Virginia's New Republican Governor Making Waves

He angers Democrats, pleases Republicans on masks, other issues
By Stephanie Mojica,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 24, 2022 2:54 PM CST
Virginia's New Republican Governor Making Waves
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin has caused quite a stir in his first days of office, multiple media sources including the Washington Post report.   (Scott P. Yates/The Roanoke Times via AP)

(Newser) – When Democrats lost Virginia’s gubernatorial election, they anticipated Republican Glenn Youngkin would move quickly to put his stamp on the blue-leaning state. Youngkin is indeed making many waves during his first days in office, and Republicans are thrilled. Coverage:

  • Masks: Upon taking office this month, Youngkin lifted the state's mandatory mask mandates for schools, per Richmond.com. Now, Fairfax County Public Schools, along with six other Virginia public school districts, are suing over the move, the Hill reports. They allege Youngkin's "masks optional" order flies in the face of the state constitution, which gives the authority for such decisions to local school boards. Furthermore, the lawsuit cites the previous ruling of former Gov. Ralph Northam (a Democrat), which urged schools to follow the direction of federal health recommendations.
  • Controversial firing: One of the governor's new hires is Attorney General Jason S. Miyares, who almost immediately fired the University of Virginia’s main attorney, per the Washington Post. Tim Heaphy and about 30 other UVA staffers were canned a little over a week after Miyares stepped into his new role. Of note: Heaphy was on leave to help the House panel that is investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. Miyares' office says that had nothing to do with the firing, but Democrats don't buy it, per the New York Times.

  • Bigger aspirations? David Charter at the Times of London writes that Youngkin is quickly becoming an all-star among Republicans because of his willingness to step into the "culture wars" on masks and critical race theory (which he campaigned against). Already, Youngkin's name is being mentioned with that of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as a potential 2024 candidate, even as a challenger to Trump, writes Charter. Aides are rebutting the idea publicly. (Youngkin won the state after largely keeping at Trump at arm's length throughout the campaign.)

  • A key voice: Youngkin is "off to a fast start" in the fight against "the coercion of progressive mandates and control of schools," declares the conservative editorial board of the Wall Street Journal. The editorial, after noting Youngkin's promise to quash critical race theory from being taught in schools, adds that the governor and his new administration have the potential to "promote genuine equity" and accomplish far more than the "progressive equity police."
  • Unfair coverage? Columnist Joe Concha at the Hill writes that media coverage of Youngkin already is biased and draws a comparison to DeSantis on that front. Concha cites numerous anti-Youngkin tweets as "unhinged vitriol" and alleges that both governors are victims of the "most hyperbolic and reckless rhetoric and reporting" simply because they are Republicans. He adds that the Democratic governors of Michigan and California only get "a fraction of the same hostility and scrutiny" despite having myriad problems in their states.
(Read more Glenn Youngkin stories.)

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