Why Virginia Republicans will lose in November
9/23/2021, 6 p.m.
One needs to look no further than last year’s presidential election results in Virginia to understand why Republican Glenn Youngkin will lose the gubernatorial race this November.
Former President Trump kicked butt in most of the state and lost it all in Northern Virginia. President Biden won Virginia with 54.11 percent of the vote to Mr. Trump’s 44 percent.
Republicans haven’t won a statewide election in Virginia since 2009 because they continue to ignore the Black vote specifically and the minority vote in general, especially in Northern Virginia.
I met with Mr. Youngkin and several of his senior aides in June and shared my thoughts on how to effectively and substantively engage with the Black community. Mr. Youngkin looked me in the eye and said, “I want you on my team!”
But there was absolutely no follow up.
For those who may not know my background, I am a graduate of Oral Roberts University with a degree in accounting and I have a master’s in international business from George Mason University in Fairfax. I am the first Black in the history of Virginia to be elected National Committeeman of the Young Republicans. I have worked political campaigns for local, state and federal offices all across the country, as well as campaigns around the world.
In my business life, I have worked with some of the biggest names in sports, business, politics and entertainment, doing everything from crisis management, to writing speeches, to ghost writing editorials.
Last month, I was asked by a major donor to talk with a senior aide to Mr. Youngkin. This donor was aware of my previous interaction with the Youngkin campaign and was not happy.
I agreed to speak with the aide, a 50-year-old who was born and raised in rural America. We had an hourlong conversation and it did not end well. After I discussed with him what I thought the campaign needed to do to get substantive support from the Black community, he responded that he agreed with 15 percent of what I said and that he knew more about Black folks than I did.
The Golden Age of substantive engagement with the Black community in Virginia politics was the early 1990s and ended as we ushered in a new century in 2000. This Golden Age was led by people like former Govs. George Allen and Jim Gilmore, former Virginia Attorney General Mark Earley, former Lt. Gov. John Hager, former Congressman Tom Davis, former State Senator Jeannemarie Devolites, etc. You had private sector businessmen like Earle Williams, Gil Davis, Bobbie and Bill Kilberg who saw the value and necessity of investing in and engaging with Black entrepreneurs, and it worked.
Both Mr. Allen and Mr. Gilmore had “real” Black Republicans on their campaign staffs, as consultants and in their administration. We won two of the three statewide offices.
In 1997, Republicans, swept all three statewide offices — governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general. I, along with other Black people, had all of their private numbers and were told to call them personally if we needed to speak with them.
The first Black governor of Virginia, L. Douglas Wilder, even tacitly supported the Republican ticket during these two cycles.
How do I know that the effort to substantively engage with the Black community paid off? Black support for these candidates was in the high teens and low 20s!
Black people are nearly 20 percent of the vote in Virginia and more than 20 percent describe themselves as Independent or with no party affiliation. This is according to a Virginia State University poll done last year.
Mr. Youngkin had a great opportunity with his campaign to return the Republican Party of Virginia back to the 21st century version of the Golden Age. But because they are more interested in staffing their campaign with Black people who make them “feel good” or “comfortable” versus Black people who know what they are doing, they are
about to experience the agony of defeat yet again.
There has been absolutely no substantive engagement with Black entrepreneurs, no engagement with Black women on the issue of school choice and vouchers, no engagement with people like Courtney Malveaux, Ashley Taylor or Patricia Funderburke Ware. If you don’t know who these people are, then you have just proved my point.
What a tragedy that on Nov. 2, Glenn Youngkin and his campaign for governor will be found unprepared and unqualified for the moment that could have been his and Virginia’s finest hour.
The writer is a Pulitzer Prize-nominated columnist and founder and chairman of Black Americans for a Better Future, a federally registered 527 Super PAC established to get more Black people involved in the Republican Party.