Wealthy former private equity firm CEO and first-time candidate Glenn Youngkin stopped in Loudoun on Tuesday morning as he and other hopefuls for the Republican gubernatorial nod make their closing arguments.
“This is about winning through addition and multiplication, and not through subtraction and division,” Youngkin told a closely-packed, unmasked crowd inside the Purcellville Pub on April 27. “And that’s the playbook the Republican Party in Virginia, sadly, has run for the last 10 years, is subtraction and division. And we’re just not going to play that way. We’re going to bring people together.”
Youngkin said he will “stand up for our First Amendment rights” and that he is “pro-life,” and that he intends to increase police funding. He also said he plans a bill modeled after one from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is pushing legislation to fine social media companies that de-platform politicians. That was a reaction to decisions by Facebook and Twitter to block then-President Donald Trump after his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol attempting to stop the certification of President Joe Biden, resulting in at least two deaths and further injuries. Twitter explained he was permanently banned “due to the risk of further incitement of violence.”
And Youngkin said he is pushing for election reform, including requiring state-issued photo ID to vote.
Youngkin’s appearance featured Brandon Michon, a parent who became a celebrity among Loudoun Republicans after video of his appearance at a local School Board meeting, screaming at them to “figure it out” and reopen schools, went viral and became a rallying cry. Michon said Youngkin called him personally shortly after that video.
Youngkin said the experience of Virginia families with students over the past year has shown Virginia needs public charter schools and education savings accounts.
“Our kids are worth a lot more than this, and we have to go defend their education, we have to actually press forward with it aggressively, and create the number one school system in the country, not one that lacks,” Youngkin said.
Youngkin hopes to be the first Republican to win statewide office since 2009, and then to use that platform to help Republicans win local elections, retake control of the state legislature and send a Republican-majority delegation to the House of Representatives.
The first question from the people at the Purcellville Pub was how he would be different from Trump.
“I pull people together, and sometimes, you know, sometimes maybe he was a little harsh,” Youngkin said. “I didn’t ever hold it against him.”
As a first-time candidate, Youngkin said, he has advantages over the others.
“I don’t bring 30 years of political baggage and promises made,” Youngkin said. “I haven’t been running for these campaigns and trying to get them and losing. I think the Republican Party of Virginia has learned one thing over the last ten years—that’s how to lose, and that’s not the game I play.”
Youngkin, of Great Falls, has by far the best-funded campaign of any candidate in the race. The nearest follower is another wealthy candidate but one with deep political connections, Pete Snyder. Both are their own top donors; Youngkin donated $5.5 million to his own campaign, and Snyder donated $5.2 million, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.
For Youngkin, that is not a crushing figure—he is estimated to have a net worth close to $300 million.
That also means the majority of those campaigns’ spending is self-funded. In total, Youngkin has raised $7.65 million, Snyder $6.8 million. The next nearest competitor is state delegate and former Speaker of the House of Delegate Kirk Cox, whose campaign has raised $1.1 million.
They are among the seven candidate who will face off in the Republican convention May 8.