Why Virginia gubernatorial candidate Allen Youngkin has no name recognition

Mr. Allen Youngkin once accused the Virginia Democratic State Corporation Commission of having held “union thugs” hostage at state agency meetings for the purpose of imposing the contract on Dominion (the state’s dominant utility)…

Why Virginia gubernatorial candidate Allen Youngkin has no name recognition

Mr. Allen Youngkin once accused the Virginia Democratic State Corporation Commission of having held “union thugs” hostage at state agency meetings for the purpose of imposing the contract on Dominion (the state’s dominant utility) without voter approval. (In response, a Republican commission commissioner stated that the allegations were “absolutely not true.”) A former lobbyist for Dominion and ex-electoral board member for a coal lobby, Mr. Youngkin has also tried to undermine the Obama administration’s climate policies in the past (although his efforts were mostly unsuccessful). He’s also had negative contact with minority communities.

But Mr. Youngkin’s biggest controversy, for now, was his involvement in preserving the public’s trust in clean government practices by taking a job with Dominion. At Dominion, he has suggested that the agency charged with regulating the nuclear industry had mismanaged the plant relicensing process. For his part, Mr. Youngkin spent a lot of time at the office of Virginia Republican House Speaker William J. Howell — to the point that Dominion’s board asked Dominion to hire a political strategist to ensure neutrality.

Mr. Youngkin’s campaign for governor of Virginia has taken off in the past month. By all rights, the Republican would be a huge underdog. He’s only about a point behind Democratic State Senator Mark Herring, a favorite of establishment Democrats and liberals, in the polls, and Herring has well-known family ties to former President Bill Clinton. Mr. Youngkin, on the other hand, has almost no name recognition outside his district, and he’s now defending his executive-branch appointees in the rare black-majority district (Wards 25 and 28, both majority black).

Since the Virginia gubernatorial race has become competitive, Mr. Youngkin has begun attacking Herring on those issues. The worst comments he’s made have come from his running mate, state Del. Kelly Butler, who compared the Reproductive Health Act, which Herring opposed, to “the authorization of World War II under Adolf Hitler.” (Ms. Butler claimed that she wasn’t comparing Ms. Herring to Hitler, but Mr. Youngkin had already set that standard.)

As Mr. Youngkin has sprinted ahead in the polls, he’s adopted policy positions that mirror the interests of the coal lobby and the hospital lobby, which are both traditional Virginia Republican donors. But as of now, Virginia voters don’t appear to be following him.

Read the rest at The Cut

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