Glenn Youngkin Spent Millions and Republicans Still Lost in Virginia

“The emperor has no clothes except for a red sweater vest.”

David McNew/Getty

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

After months of interviews, TV appearances, and hype, Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin—and his vision of himself as the new standard bearer of how to win as a Republican—ran into a problem: He lost. On Tuesday, Youngkin’s dreams of helping bring about a GOP-led General Assembly were crushed. The state’s Democrats secured the majority in both the House of Delegates and the state senate. The loss thwarted the GOP’s effort at complete legislative control and potentially finished Youngkin’s presidential aspirations. In the process, millions of dollars in PAC donations were flushed down the toilet.

“The emperor has no clothes except for a red sweater vest,” Sen. Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax) told the Virginia Mercury as the election results were announced. With all 140 legislative seats up for grabs, Democratic candidates flipped the Republican’s previous 52-48 majority in the House and maintained their control in the Senate, according to unofficial elections results. 

As my colleague Ari Berman, reported, this year’s election cycle was a particularly critical one. Virginia’s previously divided government prevented Youngkin, and the formerly Republican House, from passing contested pieces of legislation, including a 15-week abortion ban. The governor spent a good chunk of 2023 touring the Old Dominion state to change that. And his political action committee, Spirit of Virginia, was reportedly one of the largest spenders in this election cycle, which was already poised to be notably costly compared to others. As my colleague Abby Vesoulis noted, The Spirit of Virginia poured $7.7 million into this year’s legislative candidates. Youngkin, a former CEO for a major private equity company, even included $500,000 of his own cash towards their election efforts, according to the Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP). None of it mattered. He lost.

Virginia voters sent a very clear message by resoundingly embracing inclusion, equity, and civil rights at the ballot box,” said Del. Marcia Price (D) in a statement to Mother Jones. “They rejected fear-mongering and destructive culture wars. Not even the Republican’s dog whistles and scare tactics could suppress the people’s support for the common sense solutions that Democrats prioritize.”

During the lead-up to these elections, there was plenty of talk about how a Republican win could propel Youngkin, who’s been candid about a potential bid for the presidency, into the 2024 Republican candidate lineup. Well, good luck trying that now.

MOTHER JONES NEEDS YOUR HELP

Straight to the point: Donations have been concerningly slow for our hugely important First $500,000 fundraising campaign. We urgently need your help, and a lot of help, over the next few weeks so we can pay for the one-of-a-kind journalism you get from us.

Learn more in “Less Dreading, More Doing,” where we lay out this wild moment and how we can keep charging hard for you. And please help if you can: $5, $50, or $500—every gift from every person truly matters right now.

payment methods

MOTHER JONES NEEDS YOUR HELP

Straight to the point: Donations have been concerningly slow for our hugely important First $500,000 fundraising campaign. We urgently need your help, and a lot of help, over the next few weeks so we can pay for the one-of-a-kind journalism you get from us.

Learn more in “Less Dreading, More Doing,” where we lay out this wild moment and how we can keep charging hard for you. And please help if you can: $5, $50, or $500—every gift from every person truly matters right now.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate