Rising profile fuels speculation about Gov. Youngkin’s national prospects

Published: Oct. 4, 2022 at 7:20 PM EDT
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LYNCHBURG, Va. (WDBJ) - From the booming soundtrack and the professional set-up to the made-for-tv setting, Monday’s roll-out of the Youngkin administration’s Energy Plan had all the trappings of a national campaign rally.

And after the governor worked the rope line, he was asked about his interest in national office.

“I am so humbled to even be included in that conversation,” Youngkin told reporters. “The reality is I am so focused on being the best Governor of Virginia I can possibly be.”

Youngkin’s rising profile is fueling speculation he has national political aspirations.

Youngkin said he is campaigning for Republican congressional candidates in the Commonwealth, and with candidates for Governor in other states, but the lion’s share of his attention, he said, is devoted to Virginia.

“There is no question that his national profile has really increased,” said WDBJ7 political analyst Bob Denton. “He’s getting a lot of exposure. He supposedly has the blueprint for how Republicans can win.”

Denton said Youngkin is now among the top ten Republicans often mentioned as potential candidates for President. But he said it’s premature to consider him a top contender.

“It can be, as you say, in terms of the ticket. It could be certainly in terms of a cabinet position. And who knows, he may be laying the groundwork for a run against Tim Kaine in 2025,” Denton said. “But this is just the surfacing phase, getting the publicity, collecting the money, the IOUs. And then see what comes in the future.”

Denton said there are “a lot of dominoes that need to fall” to clear the way for a Youngkin candidacy. Is Donald Trump in or out? Who else, such as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, is in the mix?

In the meantime, Denton said he expects Youngkin to continue travelling, continue supporting candidates in other states, and continue cultivating a national profile.