Anti-LGBTQ and anti-choice religious-right groups and leaders are mobilizing to help Republican Glenn Youngkin win this year’s Virginia gubernatorial election in which voting is already underway.
Youngkin has bragged about endorsements from national religious-right groups, including the anti-choice Susan B. Anthony List and National Right to Life. Another right-wing anti-choice group, CatholicVote, told supporters in an email on the first day of early voting that the group had been “planning for this race for months.” The group slammed Catholic Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe’s support for Roe v. Wade and told its followers that the race has “national importance” and “the first big high-profile referendum on the Biden presidency.” The group claimed that it had recruited more than 100 volunteers for its voter outreach efforts.
Another religious-right political operation, My Faith Votes, is mobilizing to maximize turnout of conservative Christian voters in the Virginia election. In an email sent to supporters Tuesday, My Faith Votes’ Jason Yates said, “What happens in Virginia will send a loud signal to the rest of the nation.” He asked activists to join an operation to send letters to “Christians who are unlikely to vote unless encouraged to go to the polls and stand for biblical values.”
“Impact the elections in Virginia for the Lord,” says a My Faith Votes webpage recruiting volunteers. “He promises blessings from our obedience and so we do as He instructs and trust the results to him.”
My Faith Votes invested heavily in an unsuccessful effort to elect Republicans in the 2021 Georgia U.S. Senate races won by Sens. Raphael Warnock and John Ossoff and in the failed campaign to recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom. My Faith Votes’ page for Virginia voters promotes a video in which Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson urges people to vote for “godly” candidates and against people who “practice perversion.”
Youngkin has said he believes “life begins at conception” and will “proudly stand up for the unborn and their mothers.” Already, ]he has backed new restrictions on access to abortion. Youngkin has admitted to downplaying his anti-choice positions in order to attract votes in the general election, telling a questioner on the campaign trail that he could “start going on offense” once he was elected.
Youngkin has also been endorsed by FRC Action, a political arm of the anti-LGBTQ Family Research Council. Youngkin has publicly supported right-wing activists campaigning against LGBTQ-inclusive policies in Loudoun County schools, and he has promised religious-right activists to fight for policies that would allow anti-LGBTQ discrimination in the name of religious freedom. While some conservative gay activists have claimed that Youngkin is “inclusive,” the candidate has refused to say whether he supports marriage equality.
The GOP ticket includes Winsome Sears, a candidate for lieutenant governor who the Human Rights Campaign says “ran on her staunch opposition to LGBTQ rights” in previous runs for office.
Last week, the Associated Press reported that Youngkin had received $87,500 from former Trump cabinet member and anti-public education activist Betsy DeVos and her family. It also reported that Youngkin’s campaign had given $20,000 to the political arm of the anti-LGBTQ, anti-choice Family Foundation of Virginia. The extraordinarily wealthy Youngkin, who made his fortune in private equity, has also loaned his campaign more than $16 million.
According to the Washington Post, the Youngkin campaign has enlisted one of his former Republican competitors, hard-right state Sen. Amanda Chase, as a campaign surrogate. Chase, who advocated for martial law last winter, and former President Donald Trump have claimed that Democrats might try to win the election by cheating. For his part, Youngkin refused to acknowledge that President Joe Biden’s election was legitimate until after he secured the Republican nomination, and he has helped promote Trump’s bogus “stolen election” narratives by speaking at an “election integrity” rally at Liberty University.
As The Atlantic recently noted, “Youngkin has said he’s ‘honored’ to have Trump’s support, and that Trump ‘represents so much of why I’m running.’”