Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin gestures as he talks with employees during opening ceremonies for the new offices of Empower AI Wednesday July 20, 2022, in Richmond, Va. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin gestures as he talks with employees during opening ceremonies for the new offices of Empower AI Wednesday July 20, 2022, in Richmond, Va. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Lately, it seems like Gov. Youngkin has been everywhere BUT Virginia, as he has a busy out-of-state travel schedule booked over the next few months. 

Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin hasn’t even been in office for a year, but he’s already on the road helping his fellow Republicans campaign in other states. His upcoming fall travel schedule has him going to at least seven states following his most recent trip to Michigan, where he helped campaign for Trump-endorsed Tudor Dixon during the Michigan GOP Convention.

Youngkin is building up quite a road map to help bolster various Republican candidates in Connecticut, Georgia, Kansas, Maine, Nevada, New Mexico, and Oregon. He claims he’s focused on Virginia, but with all the travel he’s doing, is it possible he’s gearing up for a 2024 run?

Virginia Lately

Youngkin has made some appearances in the commonwealth amidst his busy travel schedule. He recently visited an AP Government class at Colonial Forge High School in Stafford. It was there that he signed Executive Directive Three, designed to address Virginia’s teacher shortages with a nine-step method to remove any obstacles that those who want their own classroom might face. 

Gov. Youngkin was also spotted at the Chesterfield County Fair with right-wing state Senator Amanda Chase, where he stopped to take a photo.

He also visited Petersburg, where he helped launch the Partnership for Petersburg, which could help make a difference for residents of a city that has been ranked “the least healthy” in Virginia, and a city where the majority of citizens are Black. The partnership features more than 40 initiatives in six different pillars that include education, healthcare, community safety, business development, community relationship building, and transportation.

It should be noted that Youngkin also was in the commonwealth briefly on Sept. 7, while Virginia’s legislators were in meetings ahead of the General Assembly reconvening for a one-day special session. Per his public schedule, he was in Virginia Beach before his trek up to Maine to campaign for former Gov. Paul LePage, who is running for re-election for governor. LePage has previously said he was “Donald Trump before Donald Trump became popular” (and has the track record to prove it).

The Maine Attraction

Former Gov. Paul LePage is no stranger to controversial comments. In fact, he once falsely claimed that more than 90% of people who were arrested for drug trafficking in Maine were Black or Hispanic. He has called people of color, most notably people of Hispanic origin, “the enemy.” He also claimed that drug traffickers from out-of-state pass through Maine and “impregnate a young white girl before they leave.”

Youngkin is set to campaign for him at a fundraiser in Lewiston, Maine, despite LePage’s history of racist and controversial comments.

Kristin Davison, a political consultant for Youngkin, told The Washington Post that “Governor Youngkin believes Republicans make better governors.” She also added that while in Maine, Youngkin will be  discussing the “Democrats’ failure to address cost of living, education, and safety.”

When Youngkin was asked about LePage’s history, he told a gaggle of reporters at an event outside of Richmond that he wasn’t aware of any “racially inflammatory statements,” and that he wasn’t sure “that that’s accurate,” despite the fact that LePage’s history of not only making racist and unfounded claims, but also his embrace of violent rhetoric, is well-documented.

Youngkin also claimed that he’s been very selective about who he campaigns for, because of his responsibilities in the commonwealth, but wants Republicans to win races across the country. 

The controversy surrounding LePage and his comments has followed him for years–even after his eight years as governor–so it’s strange that Youngkin would claim that he wasn’t aware of his history. 

Eyes on Michigan

On Aug. 27, The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported that Youngkin spoke to a crowd outside of the Michigan Capitol in Lansing and showed off some interesting dance moves to “Spirit in the Sky” by Norman Greenbaum before breaking out into a speech about his first car: a Dodge Coronet station wagon that was made in Michigan.

He spoke about how the “Spirit of Virginia” —also the name of his political action committee— was “ignited” because “liberal leadership tried to turn Virginia into California,” criticizing Nancy Pelosi.

Ironically, he also attacked current Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for her own travel while in office.

“Let’s send Gretchen Whitmer packin’! Let me stop for a minute. For everything that I’ve read, Gretchen Whitmer doesn’t ever unpack. Private jets to Florida, boat trips to Elk Rapids. And of course, the thousands of miles that she has logged flying to California, hanging out with her friend Nancy Pelosi,” he said to the crowd. 

During his speech, cries of “lock her up!” could be heard when talking about Whitmer’s decision to enact lockdowns to promote public safety during the coronavirus pandemic.

Youngkin also spun tales about the supposed condition of Virginia before he was elected, where things were “shut down” during the coronavirus pandemic, including schools and businesses.

The Rest of Youngkin’s Travels

Virginia Democrats have called on Youngkin and his camp to be more transparent about his travels. On Sept. 1, Del. Marcus Simon announced that Virginia’s Democratic Party will be submitting two Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests regarding Youngkin’s travels out of Virginia. 

The first FOIA request that Virginia Democrats are seeking out involves information related to his travel itineraries, all contracts, and invoices related to private security or Virginia State Police services that were provided to him outside of public office. 

The second FOIA request is to the Virginia State Police for any documents related to all of Youngkin’s contracts, as well as any invoices the agency may have received from Youngkin’s team for private security services outside of public office. 

“Virginians deserve more than a half-time governor; we expect the governor to give his job full time and attention. So far it’s clear that Gov. Youngkin is more interested in speaking to voters in Arlington, Texas, than listening to the people of Arlington, Virginia,” Del. Simon said during a virtual press conference.

Youngkin’s upcoming travel schedule doesn’t have him traveling to Arlington, Texas—yet—but he’s slated to be in Nevada on Sept. 15. Other stops on his political road trip this year include Connecticut, Georgia, Kansas, New Mexico, and Oregon.