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Wilder to Youngkin: The people will tell you whether you should go further

Glenn Youngkin, L. Douglas Wilder
Steve Helber
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, right, sakes the hand of former Gov.L.Douglas Wilder, center, after a news conference on Thursday May 19, 2022, in Richmond, Va.

Governor Glenn Youngkin might wake up every morning and see a president staring at him in the mirror. But for now, he has to lead Virginia through the upcoming General Assembly session.

Three Virginia governors have gone on to be president, but only one was governor while also running for president — Doug Wilder. And it didn't work out all that well.

"The loudest applause I ever got when I ever spoke to a joint session of the General Assembly was when I said I will no longer be a candidate seeking the office of the presidency of the United States for the Democratic Party. The place erupted," Wilder remembers.

Youngkin will be addressing a joint session of Virginia's House and Senate at the opening of the General Assembly session, and the former governor says the current governor should take a few pointers from a new poll recently released by the Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University. The poll has Youngkin at 52 percent approval.

Wilder says the message to Youngkin is clear. "Focus on doing the best job you can do for that which you were elected, and the people will tell you whether they feel you should go further to do whatever else."

According to the poll results, the people are telling the governor that Virginia should figure out a way to transition from fossil fuels, get a grip on inflation and help students struggling with learning loss from the pandemic.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.