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Politics: Youngkin's school warnings intensify GOP's suburban push

Blank slate to best hope: Can Youngkin rescue the Va. GOP?

  Blank slate to best hope: Can Youngkin rescue the Va. GOP? RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — When Glenn Youngkin threw his hat and his cash into the Republican nominating contest for Virginia governor this year, he was a rich former private equity executive with no experience as a candidate, and few insider connections or public political views. “Most party loyalists and insiders didn’t know much about him," said Todd Gilbert, the state House minority leader, who initially endorsed a fellow lawmaker in the race. Nearly nine months later, Gilbert and much of his party have come around.

ASHLAND, Va. (AP) — Glenn Youngkin wants voters in Virginia to hear an urgent message: Your children are in danger.

FILE - In this Oct. 11, 2021, file photo Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin greets supporters during a meet and greet at a sports bar in Chesapeake, Va. Youngkin faces former Governor Terry McAuliffe in the November election. Youngkin’s suburban strategy emphasizes his every-man image and “kitchen-table” issues like taxes, public safety and education, while largely avoiding former President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File): Virginia Governor Suburbs © Provided by Associated Press Virginia Governor Suburbs

In a speech in Northern Virginia's suburbs last week, the Republican candidate for governor highlighted the murky case of a student who allegedly committed sex crimes in two area schools. He said the incidents, which have sparked community outrage, are the result of failed Democratic leadership.

FILE - In this Oct. 11, 2021, file photo Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin greets a supporter during a meet and greet at a sports bar in Chesapeake, Va. Youngkin faces former Governor Terry McAuliffe in the November election. Youngkin’s suburban strategy emphasizes his every-man image and “kitchen-table” issues like taxes, public safety and education, while largely avoiding former President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File) © Provided by Associated Press FILE - In this Oct. 11, 2021, file photo Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin greets a supporter during a meet and greet at a sports bar in Chesapeake, Va. Youngkin faces former Governor Terry McAuliffe in the November election. Youngkin’s suburban strategy emphasizes his every-man image and “kitchen-table” issues like taxes, public safety and education, while largely avoiding former President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

“What other tragedy awaits Virginia’s children?” an atypically grim-faced Youngkin asked from the podium, flanked by a collection of parents and schoolchildren.

Abortion, schools take center stage in Virginia governor's election ad wars

  Abortion, schools take center stage in Virginia governor's election ad wars National issues such as abortion and schools have taken center stage in Virginia's television ad wars between former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glen Youngkin.The commonwealth's competitive race for governor is viewed by many as a harbinger of what's to come in the 2022 midterms, and the race is already proving to be a testing ground for some of the biggest national issues that could influence next year's elections.

On the eve of the Nov. 2 election, Youngkin's dark message represents a new front in his monthslong push to repair the Republican Party's standing in the suburbs, where college-educated moms and dads forcefully turned against Donald Trump's GOP.

Shying away from Trump and his divisive rhetoric for much of the year, Youngkin has adopted a suburban strategy that instead emphasizes an approachable image and “kitchen table" issues like taxes, public safety and education. He's also tried to link his education platform to the frustrations of Virginia activist groups — many of them run by officials with former ties to the Trump administration, the Republican Party or both — already upset by school pandemic restrictions and transgender policies, as well as classroom curricula they see as too liberal and un-American.

Glenn Youngkin: What to know about the GOP Virginia governor candidate

  Glenn Youngkin: What to know about the GOP Virginia governor candidate Republican Glenn Youngkin, a wealthy 54-year-old Virginia former private equity executive, married father of four, and political newcomer is on the ballot to be Virginia's next governor on Nov. 2.Youngkin was born in Richmond, Virginia, in 1966 to father Caroll Youngkin, an accountant and star basketball player at Duke University, and mother Ellis Youngkin, a teacher, author and nursing Ph.D. Youngkin grew up in Richmond and Virginia Beach and was the star of his Norfolk High basketball team before graduating high school in 1985 and enrolling at Houston’s Rice University, where he studied engineering and played four years of Division 1 basketball.

FILE - In this Oct. 11, 2021, file photo Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin talks to supporters during a meet and greet at a sports bar in Chesapeake, Va. Youngkin faces former Governor Terry McAuliffe in the November election. Youngkin’s suburban strategy emphasizes his every-man image and “kitchen-table” issues like taxes, public safety and education, while largely avoiding former President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File) © Provided by Associated Press FILE - In this Oct. 11, 2021, file photo Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin talks to supporters during a meet and greet at a sports bar in Chesapeake, Va. Youngkin faces former Governor Terry McAuliffe in the November election. Youngkin’s suburban strategy emphasizes his every-man image and “kitchen-table” issues like taxes, public safety and education, while largely avoiding former President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

Youngkin's final-days focus on sexual predators in schools, hardly a widespread issue, will test the limits of his suburban outreach and provide lessons for Republicans aiming to retake control of Congress next year.

In competitive suburban districts from California to Connecticut, Republicans are heading into the midterms searching for a post-Trump playbook to rebalance the political landscape. If Youngkin wins, many GOP candidates will likely embrace his rhetoric. A loss, however, could signal that the hard-line approach has limited appeal beyond the Republican base.

Is Critical Race Theory McAuliffe's Kryptonite? Democrats' Missteps Make It Hard to Tell

  Is Critical Race Theory McAuliffe's Kryptonite? Democrats' Missteps Make It Hard to Tell It seemed the Virginia governor's contest would be a test for Republicans seeking to stoke concerns about CRT. But Democratic fumbling may define the race.It also has seemed that the race will serve as a test of whether the GOP's recent efforts to stoke concerns about critical race theory in schools could be used as a strategy to drive victories in the 2022 midterms. On the campaign trail, Republican Glenn Youngkin has attempted to channel anxieties over the issue—and other concerns among suburban school parents—to bolster support.

Less than two weeks before Election Day in Virginia, there are signs that Youngkin's strategy is working.

Democrat Terry McAuliffe's campaign privately concedes the race is a toss-up, despite built-in advantages in a state President Joe Biden carried by 10 percentage points last fall. New polling from Monmouth University, which has the race tied, suggested that Youngkin may be gaining some support among those deciding between the two candidates in the final months of the campaign, including in the Northern Virginia suburbs.

Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute, also cited a shift in voters' top issues away from the pandemic, which tends to favor Democrats, and toward the economy and education, where the politics are murkier.

McAuliffe's fight to maintain his party's advantage with suburban voters has centered on linking Youngkin to Trump, who was twice rejected by Virginia voters. McAuliffe released an ad this week in which his opponent and Trump use nearly identical language. While Trump has endorsed Youngkin and the two share positions on several policies, the Virginia Republican has spent millions of dollars from his own personal fortune on television ads defining himself as a moderate Republican businessman.

Five top issues driving Virginia governor's race into home stretch

  Five top issues driving Virginia governor's race into home stretch Parental outrage, President Joe Biden’s plummeting approval ratings, and economic uncertainty have all shaped Virginia’s gubernatorial contest in its turbulent final weeks, during which Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin have polled dead even in a state where Republicans have not won an election for statewide office since 2009. © Provided by Washington Examiner McAuliffe has worked all year to nationalize the race and paint Youngkin as part of a broader GOP that has become too radical to govern.

Youngkin chief strategist Jeff Roe says the campaign has targeted a universe of roughly 15% of the electorate that he calls "Peloton dads and soccer moms,” a group of persuadable independents that tend to be college-educated, white and suburban. To reach them, Youngkin has rolled out a consistent advertising strategy and campaign events focused on local issues.

McAuliffe “is running a campaign on issues nobody’s talking about and running against somebody who’s not on the ballot. No wonder he’s not doing well,” Roe said. “We’re talking to people about issues they care about and we’re running against Terry McAuliffe.”

Some Democrats are concerned.

In the Richmond suburbs, Alsuin Preis, a member of the Henrico County Democrats executive committee, said she’s skeptical Youngkin will sway many Democratic women, but she worries he might appeal to anti-Trump Republicans. She has noticed a surge of Youngkin yard signs in her neighborhood, a swing district that shifted blue after Trump's election.

“Glenn Younkin has given them permission to not be ashamed anymore,” she said of her Republican neighbors.

Two decades ago, George W. Bush focused on education to portray himself as a “compassionate conservative.” Youngkin is trying to do the same by talking up his own plans to raise teacher pay and boost education spending. Both are also McAuliffe priorities.

Republicans hoping Virginia upset will give them big boost in midterms

  Republicans hoping Virginia upset will give them big boost in midterms Statewide elections in Virginia for governor and the Legislature are poised to send shock waves around the country on Tuesday night — if Republicans can translate an edge in enthusiasm among their core voters into wins at the ballot box. The Republican candidate for governor, Glenn Youngkin, has had the clear advantage in the campaign’s closing weeks. It’s within the margin of error, but it’s the first time Youngkin has ever led in the race, and it shows he has the momentum. A Youngkin win would invigorate the Republican Party nationwide, just as Democrats were given a jolt of enthusiasm in 2017 when current Gov.

But a pair of recent cases of alleged high school sexual assault have allowed Youngkin to connect his education platform to the prospect of violence in schools.

The first occurred in a restroom at Stone Bridge High School in Ashburn, in Northern Virginia’s Loudoun County, on May 28. The father of the victim was arrested during a school board meeting the following month, as officials were discussing transgender school bathroom policies, after an altercation with another parent. On Oct. 6, a separate incident occurred at Broad Run High School, about 3 miles from Stone Bridge.

The Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement that a 14-year-old male was arrested in connection with the May 28 assault and charged with two counts of forcible sodomy. Police have since announced that the same suspect has been charged with sexual battery and abduction of a fellow student in the Oct. 6 incident.

In response to outrage from parents that the same student allegedly was allowed to commit two assaults in different schools, Loudoun County Public Schools Superintendent Scott Ziegler apologized last week and said school officials will review disciplinary procedures.

Youngkin's decision to address the incidents during the closing days of his campaign does carry risk. On Friday, the state police confirmed it was investigating multiple threats against a county prosecutor, who criticized Youngkin in a TV interview for “inflaming” the community.

Still, the cases have supplemented what Youngkin’s campaign already saw as an issue of strength during the race’s home stretch: standing up for parents.

Youngkin wins Virginia governor's race, jolting Democrats

  Youngkin wins Virginia governor's race, jolting Democrats RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Glenn Youngkin won the Virginia governor's race early Wednesday, tapping into culture war fights over schools and race to unite former President Donald Trump's most fervent supporters with enough suburban voters to become the first Republican to win statewide office here in 12 years. RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Glenn Youngkin won the Virginia governor's race early Wednesday, tapping into culture war fights over schools and race to unite former President Donald Trump's most fervent supporters with enough suburban voters to become the first Republican to win statewide office here in 12 years.

“It’s less about ideology. Now we’re talking about a parent’s role as it influences the safety of their child,” said Alleigh Marré, a Virginia mother and former Trump administration staffer who leads an organization called Free to Learn Coalition. “I think most parents, when they look at what occurred in Loudoun, they see a father who was sticking up for his daughter who was a survivor of sexual assault and yet the repercussions came back to the dad.”

Earlier this year, her group spent heavily on ads criticizing school districts in Virginia, New York and Arizona for politicizing classrooms. This week, it announced a $1 million-plus buy on digital and television advertising statewide in Virginia aiming to expose school “policies that would silence parents,” while highlighting McAuliffe’s debate comment that parents shouldn't tell schools what books to teach.

On the ground in Northern Virginia, Briana Howard, a 32-year-old mom of a second grader in Fairfax County schools, said her family struggled during last year’s classroom closures. She supported them initially, but felt they went on for far too long.

Howard said she typically votes for Democrats and voted for Biden last year but is supporting Youngkin because of his stance on education and her frustration with Democrats, who she feels have catered to teachers unions instead of families.

She attended one of Youngkin's recent rallies and described being “very moved” to hear that he was taking the alleged sexual assaults seriously and demanding an investigation.

“He was very passionate about what he said and just really made me feel like he’s going to listen to parents and he’s going to listen to our voices. And he’s going to not just listen to us but change what is happening,” she said.

Is Youngkin's handling of Trump in Virginia victory a guide for the GOP going forward? .
Youngkin was repeatedly endorsed by Donald Trump but didn't campaign with the former president during his successful run for Virginia governor"I would like to thank my BASE for coming out in force and voting for Glenn Youngkin. Without you, he would not have been close to winning. The MAGA movement is bigger and stronger than ever before," the former president said in one in a slew of statements he fired off on election night.

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