Politico

Youngkin to hold Arizona events supporting Lake

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin is expected to stump for Arizona governor candidate Kari Lake next month, escalating his midterm campaign efforts ahead of a prospective 2024 presidential bid.

Youngkin is embarking on the Arizona trip as part of a broader nationwide campaign tour to bolster Republican candidates for governor. In recent weeks, he has traveled to Nevada — an early state on the 2024 GOP nominating calendar — and to Michigan, where Republicans are looking to unseat Democratic incumbents. Youngkin is headed to Kansas later this week.

But Lake will be the highest-profile, most MAGA-aligned candidate Youngkin has campaigned for to date. She has embraced Trump’s false claim the 2020 election was stolen, railed against Covid vaccine mandates and turned the media into a punching bag. Polls have shown her in a tight race with Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, in a state that was narrowly won by President Joe Biden.

Youngkin is expected to hold political and fundraising events for Lake. As in other trips, he is likely to focus heavily on education policy — an issue he made a centerpiece of his upset 2021 win in Virginia’s race, where he made inroads with suburban voters who had turned against the Republican Party during former President Donald Trump’s administration.

In a statement, Youngkin praised Arizona’s termed-out chief executive, Doug Ducey, and said the state “deserves another Republican governor.”

While Lake has appealed aggressively to Trump’s conservative backers, she has begun to make inroads with more mainstream Republican figures in her state. Arizona GOP mega-donor Jim Click, an automobile dealer who for years has bankrolled top Republicans, played a key role in encouraging Youngkin to back Lake. In an interview, Click said he recently met with Lake in his office along with roughly a dozen other Arizona Republicans, and he said that the group came away thinking highly of her.

“We were very impressed,” said Click, who backed Lake’s opponent in the primary. He added: “I think she’s going to do very well, I think she’s going to help us down-ballot.”

Click, who was part of former President George W. Bush’s fundraising network, lavished praise on Youngkin and said he would be a “good candidate,” though he added that it was too early to say who he might get behind in 2024.

Youngkin has taken a series of steps to bolster his profile in recent months, launching a pair of PACs that can fund his political activities and appearing at conservative events held by the American Enterprise Institute and Susan B. Anthony List, a group that opposes abortion.

The Virginia governor has joined another Republican governor, Florida’s Ron DeSantis, in drawing speculation about the 2024 presidential race while on the midterm campaign trail. DeSantis is also embarking on a nationwide blitz, including traveling to Arizona last month to campaign for Lake.

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