Youngkin says education can be a winning issue for Republicans
Virginia Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin (R) on Wednesday said education can be a winning issue for Republicans in future elections after the political newcomer turned his focus on schools and won the Old Dominion’s gubernatorial race earlier this month.
Youngkin, speaking to attendees at the annual Republican Governors Association meeting in Phoenix, said that while polls rank education as an unimportant issue, it is top of mind for voters.
“The polls kept telling us that education was the seventh or eighth or ninth most important issue,” Youngkin said, according to The Associated Press. “Let me tell you, it is the top issue right now, and Republicans across the country can own this topic.”
Youngkin, the former CEO of a private equity firm, bested former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) in the contentious gubernatorial race earlier this month, shocking many who saw the commonwealth as reliably blue following the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections.
Youngkin’s campaign consistently focused on the issue of education and school curricula, emphasizing that parents should play a role in deciding what their children learn in the classroom. One of his slogans was “parents matter.”
The Republican’s campaign also hammered McAuliffe for saying during a debate: “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”
Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), the chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, wrote in a memo after the gubernatorial race that the GOP “can and must become the party of parents.”
Youngkin also won by keeping a distance from former President Trump while touting his policies that are popular among GOP voters. The nominee accepted the former president’s endorsement, but the two never campaigned in person together.
The incoming governor on Wednesday said that while the Republican Party has “historically been a bit on our heels” when it comes to the issue of education, GOP candidates can now win races by advocating for “strong schools that teach our children how to excel, not watering down the curriculum, a school where parents have a say in what their children are being taught,” according to the AP.
He also said Republicans can secure future wins by focusing on “kitchen table economic issues” and local matters, rather than putting an emphasis on national politics.
Additionally, Youngkin pointed to his successful strategy of not railing against the results of the 2020 presidential election, but instead “looking forward.”
“I have fundamentally campaigned on looking forward and not looking backward,” Youngkin said, according to the AP, while noting that he does plan on “investing in our election process going forward so Virginians can trust our election process.”
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