Virginia GOP nominee's independence from Trump up for debate

Full Screen
1 / 6

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

Republican gubernatorial candidate, Glen Youngkin arrives for an event in Richmond, Va., Tuesday, May 11, 2021. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

FALLS CHURCH, Va. – If Glenn Youngkin was looking to pivot back to the political center after winning the GOP's nomination for governor in Virginia, Donald Trump made it a little tougher by giving the nominee a big bearhug of an endorsement.

“Glenn is pro-Business, pro-Second Amendment, pro-Veterans, pro-America, he knows how to make Virginia’s economy rip-roaring, and he has my Complete and Total Endorsement!” Trump said in a written statement issued the day after Republicans declared Youngkin the victor in their May 8 nominating convention.

Virginia Republicans chose Youngkin, a political newcomer, over six rivals. In doing so, they snubbed the most overtly pro-Trump candidate, state Sen. Amanda Chase, who gladly accepted the moniker of “Trump in heels.”

Chase finished a distant third.

Tom Davis, a former Virginia congressman who is now rector of George Mason University, said Youngkin's nomination shows Virginia Republicans were more concerned about electability than fealty to Trump.

“It's not that he threw Trump under the bus, but there were other candidates who ran campaigns that were just focused all on Trump, and they lost,” Davis said. “I think Youngkin's in a good position to be his own guy.”

Davis also pointed to the nominations of Winsome Sears for lieutenant governor and Jason Miyares for attorney general as evidence that Republicans were focused on winning in the fall.

“They've got a bazillionaire, a Black woman and a Latino running at the top of the ticket,” he said. “It's hard to even put that together in a back room. It's a very strong ticket and it puts a lot of pressure on Democrats."