Gov. Glenn Youngkin and Senate District 24 candidate Danny Diggs held a rally in Newport News Wednesday afternoon urging Republicans to take advantage of early voting and asking them to help “flip the Senate.”
All 140 seats in the state Senate and House of Delegates are up for election in November. The Republicans currently hold the House, while Democrats have a majority in the Senate.
Wednesday’s early vote rally represents a noticeable shift in the GOP’s strategy. In the past few years, Republicans nationwide have pushed to restrict early voting. Nonpartisan nonprofit The Pew Research Center found last year that only 37% of Republicans felt very or somewhat confident that absentee or mail-in ballots would be counted correctly.
But at Wednesday’s event, located at 10844 Warwick Blvd., many Republican leaders expressed a desire to not cede early voting efforts to Democrats.
“The reality is, if we don’t do what everybody else is doing, we’re gonna stay behind,” said Newport News Republicans Chair Tom Aman. “So we might as well embrace the laws that are existing.”
Diggs acknowledged “there was a lot of reluctance” among Republicans to vote early in prior years. However, he believes Youngkin has “done an outstanding job” changing their minds and sending the message to vote early.
“We want as many people to participate in the process as we can,” Diggs told the Daily Press. “And the more people that participate, the more people feel good about the entire process. And that’s what we want to do. And we’re going to help the governor get that word out.”
Youngkin told an energetic crowd of about 200 people that it was “time to win.”
Much of his speech revolved around familiar talking points about “empowering parents” and how “children belong to parents, not to the state.”
He told the crowd to each get 10 people to turn out to vote in elections. He also encouraged the crowd to vote early — either through an absentee ballot, voting by mail or going to an early voting precinct.
“There’s a choice, because elections have consequences,” Youngkin said. “And I’ll just tell you, this is our moment, because we can hold our House and flip our Senate. And that’s what we’re going to do.”
Following that remark, he led the crowd in a chant of “hold the house, flip the Senate.”
Hampton resident Deb Williams, one of the attendees at the event, said early voting is “something we have to start doing” and said she believed it was a major factor in Democrats winning the 2020 presidential election. She said her priority is having “a completely red General Assembly.”
The rally comes as the Virginia Public Access Project reported Democratic candidates had raised more money than Republicans in July and August. The Sept. 15 campaign finance report says House Democratic candidates have so far raised $7.6 million compared to Republicans $5.8 million. In the Senate, Democratic candidates have raised $8.2 million compared to Republicans $4.9 million.
Youngkin’s PAC, Spirit of Virginia, has provided $7,000 in in-kind donations to Diggs, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.
Democrats will have their own early voting rallies this week, including a rally in Virginia Beach on Friday.
Josh Janney, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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