Port: Perhaps the beginning of the end of the Trump movement

For those of us who have watched with disgust what Trumpism has done to the conservative movement in recent years, these races were signs of hope.

Republican Glenn Youngkin holds election night event in race for Virginia governor
Supporters of Republican nominee for Governor of Virginia Glenn Youngkin react as Fox News declares Youngkin has won his race against Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe and Youngkin will be the next Governor of Virginia during an election night party at a hotel in Chantilly, Virginia, on November 3, 2021. REUTERS / Elizabeth Frantz
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MINOT, N.D. — Political pundits like to read too much into off-year election outcomes.

Starved for meaningful topics in non-campaign years, the political press must take what they can get, even if it means furiously extrapolating national meaning from deeply local races.

Still, the gubernatorial race in Virginia does have a feeling of consequence, and not just because the new lieutenant governor in that state is a gun-toting Marine veteran named Winsome Sears who is now the first Black woman elected to statewide office in that southern state.

Republican Glenn Youngkin won, narrowly but decisively in a state that has been trending blue for more than a decade. One that Joe Biden won by 10 points in 2020. And it's how he beat Democrat Terry McAuliffe that portends good things for the GOP.

Youngkin didn't play at being a Donald Trump fanboy.



  • Port: On Brandon, and whether or not he should go Think of it this way: If you see or hear something that makes you upset, that's just an example of the First Amendment working as intended.

  • Port: Why don't violent pipeline protests receive the same scrutiny as violent Trump protests? The news media's uneven approach to covering political extremism is a big part of what's dividing this country.

  • Port: Flood of anti-vaccine and other culture war bills proposed for special session With each day of the special session estimated to cost taxpayers $100,000, some lawmakers have proposed debates over a laundry list of controversial topics.

At a time when so many Republican politicians promote a slobbering sort of affection for the orange-tinted buffoon who stands astride their party, Youngkin studiously avoided talking about the man.
What Youngkin did talk about were the issues important to Virginians, and he did so without descending into a long-form Trump impersonation.

"He talked like a normal human being," the Wall Street Journal's editorial board notes this morning .

Youngkin brought back swing voters who were alienated by Trump in past elections.

The same is true of Jack Ciattarelli, a Republican who was on the ballot for governor in New Jersey last night. As I write this that race hasn't been called yet, but that Ciattarelli made it so close in a state Joe Biden won by 16 points last year is remarkable.

"Mr. Ciattarelli won back suburban counties in a huge voter swing that pollsters didn’t see coming," the Journal says .

Ever the rank opportunist, Trump made a late endorsement of Youngkin, a crass attempt to get out in front of his parade and take credit, while snubbing Ciattarelli , who in the past has called the disgraced former president a charlatan who was "unfit to be president."

Youngkin never attacked Trump as Ciattarelli did, but he also avoided him even as his opponent tried desperately to tie the two together.


Youngkin won, and Caittarelli has made a race in a very blue state closer than anyone thought it could be, and both did so independently of the Trump movement.

For those of us who have watched with disgust what Trumpism has done to the conservative movement in recent years, these races were signs of hope.

The conventional wisdom in politics to this point is that the price of victory for Republicans is obeisance paid to Trump.

In New Jersey, and even more so in Virginia, we've learned that's really not the case. Not for these candidates, and perhaps not for many more around the country.

By the way, there were other good signs from last night's election results for right-of-center Americans.

In Buffalo, where a literal socialist was the only candidate on the ballot for mayor, the incumbent non-socialist Democrat ran a write-in campaign and won in a landslide, 59 to 31 .

In Minneapolis, a progressive-backed push to close down the city's police department as a consequence of the George Floyd tragedy was repudiated decisively .

In Seattle's mayoral race, a moderate Democrat easily defeated the progressive candidate in a race that was also rooted deeply in police issues. An actual Republican has won the city attorney race there , over a progressive candidate who is self-described as a "police abolitionist."


These outcomes aren't always specifically wins for Republicans, but they are all wins for decency and sanity, and that's a win for us all.

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Rob Port, founder of, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at .

Opinion by Rob Port
Rob Port is a news reporter, columnist, and podcast host for the Forum News Service. He has an extensive background in investigations and public records. He has covered political events in North Dakota and the upper Midwest for two decades. Reach him at Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.
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