Virginia Republicans had a variety of gubernatorial candidates to choose from, which touched off an unfortunate race to the bottom, with GOP hopefuls scrambling to tell the party's base what it wanted to hear.
Glenn Youngkin, a former private equity executive who's never before sought or held elected office, was among those who seemed eager to play along. For example, when Youngkin was recently asked about the far-right's bizarre conspiracy theories about Dominion voting machines, the Republican described the ridiculous ideas as "the most important issue" of the campaign. Asked about the legitimacy of President Joe Biden's victory, Youngkin wouldn't give a straight answer.
What's more, a recent Washington Post editorial noted that Youngkin's plan for a "task force" to tackle "election integrity" was "the only detailed policy proposal" he put forward ahead of the nominating process.
[D]ays after winning both the nomination and Trump's endorsement, Youngkin appeared to change his rhetoric, saying in an interview on Fox Business: "I have said before that Joe Biden was legitimately elected our president. I mean, he took the oath. He's sleeping in the White House."
The Washington Post's report added that, prior to winning the GOP's gubernatorial nomination, there's no record of Youngkin saying, "explicitly or publicly," that Biden was legitimately elected.
The fact that this is predictable doesn't make it defensible. Youngkin is running in an increasing "blue" state, where Biden defeated Donald Trump by double digits, so he apparently believes a general-election audience won't notice that Youngkin was validating truly bonkers conspiracy theories about the presidential race as recently as last month.
And evidently, he's not alone. Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin is running for governor in New York, where Biden won by more than 23 points, and he told Newsday over the weekend, "So, you had tens of millions of people that came out and voted for each of the candidates. Their votes were counted. They're counted once, and you ended up with an outcome. And that's how President Trump, uh ... President Biden became the president, was by winning the November 2020 election."
The congressman added, "I believe in our country and the sanctity of our process, and I'm not going to participate in calling elections 'illegitimate' ever. This isn't a Third World country, and it will tear our country apart if we end up living our lives and calling elections in the past 'illegitimate.'"
This, of course, is the same Lee Zeldin who helped ask the Supreme Court to help overturn election results Trump didn't like, and the same Lee Zeldin who voted against certification of Biden's victory after the Jan. 6 riot.
The congressman's concerns about "tearing our country apart" are apparently rather new.