Editorial – Governor makes his pick in 17th

Published 7:24 pm Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s recent endorsement of Suffolk businesswoman and state Del. Emily Brewer, R-Isle of Wight, for a new state Senate seat serving Western Tidewater might have been the most significant development yet in a race full of twists, turns and intrigue.
As we’ve written before, the stakes couldn’t be higher. Senate District 17, which includes all of Isle of Wight, just might determine which party controls the state Senate and, in turn, the General Assembly come 2024. 

Youngkin, for obvious reasons, wants Republican majorities in the legislature so that he has no obstacles to enactment of his conservative agenda for Virginia. While he waited longer than we thought he would to pick a horse in the Republican primary, he’s now made it clear that he thinks Brewer is not only the right person to represent this region in Richmond but also the most likely to defeat state Del. Clinton Jenkins, who is unopposed for the Democratic nomination.

An endorsement by the popular Youngkin strikes us as mostly positive for Brewer, but challenger Hermie Sadler, the Emporia businessman and former NASCAR driver, understands, and is taking advantage of, the presumed front-runner’s vulnerability.

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Sadler quickly declared Youngkin’s endorsement to be a classic example of the Republican establishment protecting its own. The message resonates with many Republicans in the wake of a bruising battle over whether the party would choose its Senate District 17 nominee in a primary or at a convention. A lawsuit that ultimately caused a judge to order a primary alleged improper influence by Youngkin and Attorney General Jason Miyares in pushing for a convention, where Brewer would almost certainly have prevailed.

The squabble over nomination method set the tone for a race that has become outright nasty with several weeks still left until the election. Most Republicans we hear from just want it to be over.

If you think the GOP primary is brutal, just wait until the general election in the fall. Money from interest groups all over the country will fund every manner of negative ad on both sides as Democrats and Republicans understand just how important the Virginia General Assembly is.

Republican control of both chambers of the legislature would further confirm what Youngkin’s 2021 upset victory suggested: that Virginia isn’t a reliably blue state after all. Democratic control of at least one chamber would prove that Republicans were overly exuberant coming out of 2021.