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Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin made the rounds to polling places Tuesday to urge Virginia voters to reject a Democratic Party of "simply chaos" in the state's 2023 legislative contests being watched closely on the national stage ahead of the 2024 presidential election.
Youngkin, who previously billed the Virginia legislative races the "most important elections in America" ahead of 2024, made the argument that the GOP is a party of results when it comes to job creation, reducing tax burdens and restoring excellence in education while campaigning in Bristow, Virginia. He was joined by Senate District 30 candidate Bill Woolf and House District 22 candidate Ian Lovejoy.
"We're the party that's really trying to forge a better day in Virginia, and what the other side stands for, honestly, is simply, simply chaos. They're doing everything they can to strike fear into people's hearts over topics that the bottom line is we're moving forward in order to build a better Virginia. And we're the party of hope. And hope beats fear every day of the week."
The governor responded to criticism from Democrats accusing him of attempting to buy votes by sending out tax rebates so close to Election Day. Youngkin, in turn, slammed Democrats in Richmond for delaying the budget for seven months, noting that if they hadn't done so, the tax checks "would have gone out a long time ago."
"They literally delayed the signing of a budget for their own political gain and then turn around and are concerned that tax relief is going out to Virginians," he said. "And this is, at the end of the day, a moment where I hope Virginians recognize that the Senate — the Senate that's been controlled by Democrats — has truly been working against things like job growth, things like tax relief, things like excellence in education and safe communities. And this is our chance to stand up as Virginians and hopefully charge a different direction."
The outcome in Virginia — among just four states with legislative elections this year — will be closely scrutinized nationwide for hints of what may come in the 2024 presidential cycle.
While all 140 General Assembly seats are on the ballot in a costly and competitive election year, the balance of power, currently divided, will likely be decided in about a dozen districts in Hampton Roads, suburban Richmond and northern Virginia, according to The Associated Press. Candidates have been making their case to voters on the economy, the environment, public safety and schools. And abortion is being hotly contested in the last state in the South without new restrictions since the end of Roe v. Wade.
"And I hope Virginians understand that, that we are the party that is trying to do everything we can to create jobs — 230,000 new jobs in the last 22 months," Youngkin continued. "We've gone from near the bottom of job growth to No. 3 in the country in job growth during that time period. We're reducing tax burdens with $5 billion of tax relief.
"We are working hard to reestablish excellence in education. I am so excited about the intensive tutoring program that's going on in third through eighth grade across Virginia because of bad decisions made by the previous administration and school boards to block kids out of school for so long."
Youngkin touted successes during Saturday's early voting and great participation in absentee ballots and early votes. Though remaining "optimistic," Youngkin acknowledges that many contests will remain close races and he urged continued momentum from Republicans on Election Day.
"I encourage everyone to vote as governor. And then, as a Republican, I ask you, please send me a team in Richmond that will work with me and not against me," Youngkin said. "We can unleash unlimited prosperity in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and we have a plan that has worked.
"This is not about two philosophies. This is about proven results of job creation and of raising expectations in schools and doing the work necessary so our kids are absolutely prepared for the future, of reducing taxes. This is real and this is what we can do even more of. I just need a team in Richmond that'll work with me."
Drawing from the lessons of the 2022 midterm elections, Youngkin explained he was pleased to have seen increased participation in absentee ballots and in early voting.
"We're unified in Virginia, and we have a very clear direction that we have set. All the candidates are committed to supporting our platform, and that's a unified Republican Party," he said of the GOP's new approach.
"And it's been great to see that we launched early voting because I was tired of seeing Virginians come to the polls on the last day and see Republicans behind by tens of thousands of votes when, in fact, everybody wants to vote. And so we've we've invited everybody to vote early. And we had really good turnout. We've seen a major difference."
The governor specifically cited close races for Republican candidates for Woolf in Prince William County, Juan Pablo Segura in Loudon County and Tara Durant running in Fredericksburg.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.