Virginia GOP candidate tests school fight message for 2022

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When Democrat Terry McAuliffe said during the Virginia governor’s debate last week that he didn’t believe “parents should tell schools what they should teach,” his opponent attacked.

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Republican Glenn Youngkin quickly turned the footage into a digital ad, then spent $1 million on broadcasting a commercial, declaring that “Terry went on the attack against the parents.” Youngkin’s campaign has since set up a parent-led group to circulate petitions and distribute flyers dismissing “McAuliffe’s unqualified status,” while on Wednesday in Washington, Northern Virginia, “Parents” Matter” rally has been scheduled.

Youngkin is trying to capitalize on the growth of relatively small but vocal groups of parents who organize against the school curriculum, which they see as “anti-American,” against COVID-19 safeguards and school board members. to whom he is very liberal and closely associated with teacher unions. .


It’s an attempt to excite GOP-leaning suburban voters Youngkin needs to win the November 2 race. If the approach proves successful in Virginia, a once-swing state that has more credibly turned blue, Republicans across the country are likely to repeat their efforts during next year’s midterms, when control of Congress is at stake. .

“Glenn Youngkin is harnessing the energy of a frustrated and fed up parent,” said Youngkin’s spokesman Macaulay Porter.

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Virginia’s most active parental activist groups say they are nonpartisan and not trying to influence the governor’s race, instead focusing efforts on school board elections and recalling board members. especially in growing areas outside Washington. But many such organizations have ties to Republican donors and party-aligned think tanks, and are led by people who have worked for the GOP and its candidates, which may make it easier to replicate the message nationally.

“The other side wants to say that all this is ready to help the candidates. I think it’s the opposite,” said Ian Prior, 44, a former Trump administration official who founded Fight for Schools, which aims to recall five school board members in Loudoun County, Virginia, where two of their Children go to school. “It exists, and smart candidates are picking it up. Politically, I’d say it’s a bi-product.”

Youngkin attended a fundraiser and rally last month for Fight for Schools, and her campaign has repeatedly asked Pryor’s group to help crowd out Republicans’ campaign events. Last weekend, Pryor’s group held a rally with about 100 people in front of the Loudoun County Supervisors Building in the leafy town of Leesburg, protesting “divisive educational programs being advanced in our own backyards.”

“I’m glad that, as Mr McAuliffe said, more people can see the truth and the Democrats want control,” said Patti Hidalgo Meanders, 52, a Republican activist and mother of six sons, the youngest. who is now in high school, who spoke at the event. “Our founding fathers built our country to be a right from God. It is not the right of our government. So that was a big wake-up call.”

Loudoun County, across the Potomac River from Washington, is populated by thousands of political professionals. As has been the case in other states, a recent school board meeting erupted in screaming matches of parents as officials discussed teaching racial equality and setting transgender rights policies.

Attorney General Merrick Garland called on federal officials to work with law enforcement to address growing threats targeting school board members, teachers, and others, citing “a disturbing spike in threats of harassment, intimidation, and violence” towards them. Guidelines for making a strategy.

“I was impressed with (Youngkin) when she reached out to parents to see how frustrated they were with school boards,” said Susan Cox, 58, a Youngkin campaign volunteer and dance instructor from Sterling, Virginia. Leesburg Rally and whose two children graduated from Loudoun County Public Schools.

McAuliffe supporters rejected the blitz as Youngkin fired a conservative base without appealing to suburban swing voters who left the GOP during last year’s presidential election.

McAuliffe spokeswoman Christina Freundlich said, “Youngkin is dividing Virginia instead of keeping our children safe from COVID-19.”

Still, an attempt to attract residents of Loudoun County angry over school issues could squeeze McAuliffe into a generally low turnout, off-year election. Last year, Democrat Joe Biden led Loudoun County, which has a population of 420,000, with 61% of the vote. He won the state by 10 per cent marks.

Republicans say Youngkin can win if he gets 40% of the vote in the Greater Washington area. But complaining about teaching racial awareness can backfire even in a county that has become more diverse over the years. Just 53% of Loudoun’s population is white, up from 69% as recently as 2010.

“Running a race in Loudoun County on this issue, when it can create a backlash against non-voters, runs the risk of being counterproductive,” said Mo Alythe, a former campaign adviser to McAuliffe and other prominent Virginia Democrats.

Many parent groups protest that their movement is multiracial and stemmed from the pandemic-induced boom in virtual education – which gave parents of all backgrounds home ideas about what their children were being taught. lamps.

Sue Zoldak, founder of Do Better…


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