Republicans seem well positioned to win the U.S. Senate in 2024, since they have only 12 seats to defend compared to the Democrats’ 22. In Virginia, Republicans aim to unseat incumbent Senate Democrat Tim Kaine, slamming him as “dead weight” and noting the success of Gov. Glenn Youngkin, a Republican.
“I think this race is definitely in play, it’s a flip opportunity,” Scott Parkinson, a Republican candidate who is challenging Kaine, told The Daily Signal in a Tuesday interview. Parkinson, who served as chief of staff for Ron DeSantis’ 2018 campaign for Florida governor, insisted that he is the frontrunner in the Virginia race for Senate, even though no polls have been conducted so far. He noted that he has helped elect Republicans for 14 years, “fighting the swamp” in Washington, D.C.
Parkinson boasts many endorsements from Senate and House Republicans, including Sens. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama and Mike Lee of Utah, and Reps. Jim Banks of Indiana, Lauren Boebert of Colorado, Eli Crane of Arizona, Byron Donalds and Anna Paulina Luna of Florida, August Pfluger of Texas, and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania. Although Parkinson has close ties to DeSantis, he has pledged to support whichever GOP candidate wins the party’s 2024 presidential nomination.
“I think the earth is moving out from under Tim Kaine’s feet,” Jonathan Emord, another Republican candidate and a constitutional lawyer who boasts the most wins against the Food and Drug Administration in American history, told The Daily Signal in an interview Wednesday. “The coalition that Youngkin created, that supported his election, is now growing.”
Emord boasted about winning the Loudoun County Republican Committee’s June 2 straw poll on the Senate primary, taking 61% of the vote, far ahead of Parkinson and military veteran Eddie Garcia. Former Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, a Libertarian Party leader, endorsed Emord, as did Suparna Dutta, the Indian-American mom whom Democrats voted to remove from the Virginia Board of Education in February.
But Garcia, a 22-year Army veteran who completed three deployments in Iraq and three in Afghanistan, said he is in the Senate race to win.
“I am confident that I will unseat Tim Kaine in 2024 because my campaign is building a coalition comprised of faith and family conservatives, disenfranchised Democrats, commonsense independents, veterans, and blue-collar workers, which include the vast majority of American Latinos here in the Commonwealth,” Garcia told The Daily Signal.
Garcia spent five years serving as a national security adviser and legislative liaison. He launched the MIL-VETS Mobile Integration App, connecting veterans, military spouses, and veteran business owners.
The candidates for Kaine’s Senate seat each emphasized parental rights, the key issue that propelled Youngkin to victory in 2021. Parental rights first became an issue during the COVID-19 pandemic when schools closed for months, then required children to wear face masks, then encouraged taking the mRNA vaccines, and parents questioned the rationale behind these policies.
“COVID-19 really got me off of the sidelines and into the game,” Parkinson, the former DeSantis chief of staff, told The Daily Signal. He noted that his daughter was at the end of fourth grade when “they closed down the schools.”
“Nobody really thought about the long-term effect that that was going to have on children,” Parkinson said. “We did pull her out of public school and into private school. In sixth grade, she was bullied by other students when they found out that she wasn’t vaccinated.”
“The power of government was infringing upon the rights of parents and the ability for us to provide a safe community where kids didn’t feel like they would be targeted by adults that were creating rules for kids but not for themselves,” he added.
“Tim Kaine talks a lot about having ‘long COVID,’ with a tingling sensation in his extremities,” Parkinson noted. “I think the real ‘long COVID’ is the mental health crisis that we’ve placed on children.”
Parkinson also mentioned the infamous Loudoun County incident in which a biological male raped a girl in a girls’ bathroom after gaining access by claiming a “nonbinary” identity.
“When you think about parents’ rights, school safety, the trans issues … all of this creates momentum for people who care more about their kids’ future than some of these partisan issues,” Parkinson said.
Emord, the constitutional lawyer, agreed.
He touted his “specific solutions” to problems such as the “destruction of American values, the assault on gender taking place in the schools, the indoctrination of Marxist critical race theory”—cultural issues that he said “hit home just as much as inflation, high gas prices, and unaffordable food.”
Emord noted that most Virginians say they approve of Youngkin in recent polls, while they disapprove of President Joe Biden. A Roanoke College poll in March found that 57% of Virginians approved of the governor, while only 38% approved of Biden.
All 10 of the state Senate candidates endorsed by Youngkin won their primaries Tuesday.
“People of all political stripes, except for the radical leftists, are moving rightward,” Emord said. He warned that experimental interventions performed in the name of “gender-affirming care” cause “permanent injury to kids,” and noted that parents are rightly concerned about them.
“It’s almost transparent to me that Tim Kaine’s agenda for Virginia is an agenda Virginia never adopted or accepted in any way,” he argued.
Emord described a grassroots groundswell, saying that attendees of the Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Festival in Falls Church offered him their support in May.
He described what he called a “huge change in the direction of politics in Virginia.”
“People are saying, ‘Enough!’ They have pushed it too far,” Emord said.
Emord slammed Kaine as “dead weight,” an empty suit who “just follows the party plan.” He noted that Kaine freely called himself “boring” in 2016 when Democrat presidential nominee Hillary Clinton picked him as her running mate.
“We don’t need a boring person in government now,” the Republican candidate said.
For his part, Parkinson said that although Kaine is “perceived as a blue-dog Democrat,” he votes with Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., a self-described Democratic socialist, 94% of the time.
Emord noted that Kaine endorsed state Del. Elizabeth Guzman, a Democrat who in 2020 co-chaired Sanders’ presidential campaign in Virginia. Guzman later wrote a bill redefining “child abuse” to include a parent’s disagreement with a child’s stated gender identity.
The Kaine campaign didn’t respond to a request for comment about whether the senator still supports Guzman.
Parkinson said that when Kaine last won election to the Senate, in 2018, he faced a different political environment because Democrats won the House after two years of President Donald Trump.
He noted Biden’s declining popularity and Youngkin’s investments in strengthening the Republican Party in Virginia. Youngkin also has removed “tens of thousands of bad names” from the voter rolls, Parkinson said, restoring some integrity to the state’s election system.
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