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EXCLUSIVE: Republicans across Virginia are hoping the political playbook that Gov. Glenn Youngkin used to score an upset win last year will help them flip back several U.S. House this midterm cycle.
GOP congressional candidates and party operatives told Fox News Digital that Youngkin's style and approach to politics might be the key to bringing the red wave to a state that has long trended in favor of Democrats.
“Youngkin made it okay for independents and Democrats to vote Republican,” said Karina Lipsman, the Republican nominee for Virginia's 8th congressional district. “People want change and focusing on common sense solutions is really what people want, they don't want the partisan politics.”
Youngkin, who has garnered a national profile despite being in office less than nine months, won Virginia's governorship in an upset last year, despite having never run for office before. The former business executive bested a popular ex-governor in a race that took on national proportions.
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Democrats sought to make the campaign largely about former President Trump, who is unpopular with suburbanites in Northern Virginia. Youngkin failed to take the bait, however, opting to de-emphasize Trump and focus on kitchen table issues, like the economy and education.
The end result was that Youngkin improved on Trump's 2020 margins in suburban and exurban Northern Virginia, without seeing a drop in turnout among rural voters that make up the GOP base. He also won two congressional districts currently represented by vulnerable Democrats and came within five points of flipping a third in Northern Virginia.
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Youngkin told Fox News Digital during an interview over the weekend that the issues highlighted by his winning campaign would also lead Republicans to victory in this cycle's congressional races.
“Inflation is running out of control. We've got to make sure our schools are working for parents and children … and [that] we're standing up for law enforcement to make our communities safe,” said the governor. “These are kitchen table issues that will win in Virginia, it's what won last year.”
While issues are important, Virginia Republicans are also trying to replicate Youngkin's style and brand of politics. They say that national Republicans have for too long been painted as either a party of out-of-touch country club elites or angry conservative rabble-rousers.
Jim Myles, the Republican nominee for Virginia's 11th congressional district, argued that Youngkin had changed the party's image — at least in Virginia — by accentuating a positive message.
“I'm trying to emulate the governor's style,” said Myles. “He's been a very successful businessman, and he's very positive in his approach. He didn't go out and attack anything, he ran on the issues.”
Adding to the argument for Republican candidates to hew closely to Youngkin is that more Virginians approve of the governor's job performance than disapprove. A recent poll conducted by Virginia Commonwealth University found 49% of voters approving of Youngkin, with 38% disapproving.
Republicans in Virginia are not the only ones trying to replicate Youngkin's success this November.
“Since last November, every [Republican National Committee] meeting I attend a state party chairman, usually at least half a dozen during a meeting, pull me over and say: ‘tell me what happened in Virginia, how did you do it,” said Rich Anderson, the chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia.
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All the political attention has political observers and supporters wondering if Youngkin, who is term-limited from seeking re-election by Virginia's constitution, could be weighing a 2024 presidential bid.
Youngkin told Fox News Digital that at the moment he was focused on delivering for constituents and also helping Republicans succeed this cycle.
“2024 is a long way off,” said the governor. “We're focused right now in 2022.”
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