Governor says Trump could become the first GOP presidential candidate to win his state in 20 years

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It’s been two decades since a Republican carried Virginia in the race for the White House. 

You have to go back to then-President George W. Bush, who won the Commonwealth in his 2004 re-election victory.

Democrats have carried the state in four straight presidential elections, including President Biden’s 10-point victory over Donald Trump four years ago as he won the White House.

But GOP Gov. Glenn Youngkin thinks the former president has a very good shot of ending the Republican losing streak in Virginia as Trump faces off this autumn with Biden in a 2024 election rematch.

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“Let’s just begin by remembering where we were in 2020 when Joe Biden won Virginia by 10 points, and the fact that we’re having this discussion is a huge turn of events,” Youngkin said earlier this week in a Fox News Digital interview in New Orleans, as he attended a Republican Governors Association (RGA) conference.

Youngkin emphasized that “we’re here in June and there’s still a lot of water to go under the bridge, but Virginia looks like it’s in play and that’s pretty exciting.”

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The governor was interviewed a couple of days ahead of the release of a Fox News poll that indicated Biden and Trump are deadlocked in Virginia. 

The survey, conducted June 1-4, shows the Democratic president and his Republican predecessor in the White House each with 48% support in a head-to-head match.

In a multi-candidate race, Biden stands at 42% and Trump at 41%, with Democrat-turned-independent Robert K. Kennedy at 9% and Green Party candidate Jill Stein and independent Cornel West each at 2%.

Yougkin captured the governor’s office in 2021 as the GOP also won the races for lieutenant governor and attorney general in the party’s first statewide victories in a dozen years. They also flipped the state House, and the victories in a state that had trended blue over the previous decade energized Republicans nationwide.

But last November, Democrats won back the majority in the state House and defended their control of the state Senate in a setback for Youngkin, who led the Republican charge on the campaign trail even though his name wasn’t on the ballot.

Looking ahead to this autumn’s elections, Youngkin noted that he’s “fully endorsed” Trump and said “we’re going to enthusiastically campaign in order to win this thing.”

There was plenty of speculation last year that Youngkin would potentially launch a White House run of his own, but the governor has kept his focus squarely on his home state.

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Asked about the possibility of a 2028 White House run, Youngkin pivoted and said his priority is “to be the best governor I possibly can in the Commonwealth and I gotta tell you, I love this job. We have made huge progress, and I’ve got almost another two years to continue to do for Virginia what Virginians hired me to do.”

Listing some of his accomplishments during his tenure so far as governor, Youngkin touted that “commonsense conservative policies work.”

Political pundits also view Republican Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia as another potential contender for the 2028 GOP presidential nomination.

When asked about his next political chapter, Kemp told Fox News Digital “I am focused on winning in 2024. Then we’ll worry about anything else.”

Kemp, a popular conservative governor, earned Trump’s ire starting in late 2020, after he certified Biden’s narrow victory in Georgia in the presidential election following multiple recounts of the vote. 

Trump, who had unsuccessfully urged the governor and other top Republican officials in the state to overturn the results, returned to Georgia twice to campaign against Kemp as the governor ran for re-election in 2022. But in that year’s GOP gubernatorial primary, the governor squashed former Sen. David Perdue, whom Trump had backed in hopes of ousting Kemp.

Asked if he’ll be involved with helping Trump try to win back Georgia in the presidential election, Kemp said, “I’m involved right now. We have a lot on the ballot in Georgia… We’ve got to hold our majorities and we’ve got to hold Georgia, just like we did in 2022. That’s what I’m working on right now, helping to make sure we have a ground game to do that. And making sure that we keep Georgia red.”

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Kemp was interviewed in the wake of Trump’s convictions on all 34 felony counts in the first trial of a former or current president in the nation’s history.

Kemp wouldn’t say if Trump’s guilty verdicts will make the governor’s job harder in the autumn.

“We’ll let voters decide that. To me, at the end of the day, this is about the people, it’s not about me. It’s not about some DA in New York City that I think was being political,” he said.

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu is another Republican who’s far from a Trump ally.

Sununu is a longtime vocal GOP critic of the former president who was a top supporter and surrogate of Trump’s last challenger in the presidential primaries — former ambassador to the U.N. and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.

After Haley dropped out of the race in March, Sununu reiterated that he would vote for the GOP standard-bearer. And Sununu said he will still vote for Trump even after the former president’s conviction.

Asked if he would join Trump on the campaign trail in swing-state New Hampshire, the governor said, “I’m going to campaign with the candidates that need the help. Trump is Trump. People are going to make their minds up about President Trump whether individuals are on the campaign trail with him or not. I’m really about making sure we win that Statehouse. We have more than 201 Republicans in the House of Representatives. More than 14 senators, a strong executive council and most importantly winning that Corner Office.”

Sununu, who joined Youngkin and Kemp and a handful of other governors at a news conference during the RGA gathering, emphasized that “the presidential race is going to take care of itself. We’re going to focus on the state house races where the effort needs to be.”

Get the latest updates from the 2024 campaign trail, exclusive interviews and more at our Fox News Digital election hub.