Will the GOP's Glenn Youngkin defeat Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe in Virginia's gubernatorial race? It could happen.
I live outside Old Town Alexandria, where my local precinct has turned slightly Democratic with Youngkin signs appearing more plentiful at the moment.
The race, which began as a shoo-in for McAuliffe, is now a virtual draw.
The Cook Political Report — a must read for serious journalists — notes that many still view McAuliffe as the favorite, but Cook's Jessica Taylor's in-depth analysis paints a different story.
"For now," she writes, the governor's race "moves from lean Democrat to toss up." Coming from the Cook team, that's a change that has Democrats more than mildly concerned.
Youngkin may win for a surprising reason.
The Washington Post, customarily the scourge of Republicans, has already endorsed McAuliffe, but has hardly laid a glove on his GOP foe.
Even in its pro-McAuliffe editorial, the Post said that ex-businessman Youngkin, who did wonders with Carlyle, could be "a capable steward of Virginia's economy."
Why the bouquet, especially when McAuliffe has made Youngkin's ties to Carlyle a major issue? It's hard to figure out.
The Post also gave favorable treatment to Youngkin's education plan, accompanied by his charge that Virginia "has the lowest standards for math and reading out of all 50 states."
Nor did the Post dismiss that indictment, as it normally would attempt to do against a Republican challenger.
Equally surprising, the paper went after the Democrat candidate for boasting about his plan to raise low teacher salaries.
"If that's the case," the Post's editors retorted, "why don't you and your Democratic successor, Gov. Ralph Northam, who have governed for the past eight years, bear some responsibility?"
In their last debate, McAuliffe even got the worst of it from the Post's fact checker, Glenn Kessler.
Playing the pro-abortion card, McAuliffe accused Youngkin, who would limit abortions to 20 weeks, with plenty of exceptions, of having promised "to ban abortions and defund Planned Parenthood."
Kessler, sounding weary that the Post had to correct McAuliffe for a second time, responded: "We have fact-checked this statement before and given it two Pinocchios." Thus McAuliffe had proved himself willing to repeat a false accusation that the Post had already debunked.
"When he was the chief operating officer [for Carlyle]," McAuliffe told the debate audience, "he was running a company called Small Smiles," which was doing "unnecessary medical procedures on children. ... Babies were forced to have root canals, many of them without proper anesthesia. Why? He did it for profit."
Kessler's counter suggested this attack was not only deceitful, but malicious.
"This claim," said Kessler, "is featured in a McAuliffe ad, which falsely says that 'as a Wall Street executive, Glenn Youngkin took over this chain of dental clinics.'"
Carlyle Mezzanine Partners, a Carlyle fund, acquired the holding company for Small Smiles in 2006.
But Youngkin was not involved with that fund. Nor was Youngkin, according to Kessler, "involved in the original investment" in the dental clinics and "there is no evidence he played any role in managing it."
Kessler also claimed the Democrat nominee "stretched the facts" unfairly and "made no mention of his own investments in Carlyle funds — which continue to this day."
In sifting through McAuliffe's numerous attacks, Kessler repeatedly accused him of having "stretched" the facts or "mischaracterizing" Youngkin's position.
The Post published an extensive article on Youngkin in its Oct. 10 issue.
But what emerged, somewhat stunningly from a publication backing McAuliffe, is the very positive portrait of Youngkin about his family, his business acumen, his character, indeed, almost everything about his life. Many would be tempted to vote for him based on his resume alone.
We discover that Youngkin was the star of the Norfolk Academy basketball team, leading it to a state championship. He played Division I basketball for Rice while "graduating with a double major in mechanical engineering and managerial studies."
After a short stay in investment banking, he decided to attend Harvard Business School. He wondered if he could compete with his classmates whose accomplishments were already spectacular.
"He more than held his own," the writer of his profile fondly informs the reader, "graduating in 1991 as a Baker Scholar in the top 5 percent of the graduating class."
Is Youngkin anti-black, as the McAuliffe campaign and McAuliffe himself have implied? The Post writer suggests quite the opposite.
For example, he helped establish a church about a decade ago that he and his wife attend, which now boasts "a large, racially and ideological diverse flock ..."
One of his best friends, the writer also points out, is Godfrey Gill, a black classmate of Youngkin's at the Harvard Business School. Gill is extensively quoted by the writer for his views on Youngkin's deeds in achieving racial justice.
Gill's most favorable quote is highlighted by the author in what journalists call "pull quotes." The quote, set apart from the text, reads: Glenn Youngkin "has been a great man as long as I have known him. He's consistent. He's earnest. He's loving. He's fair."
Despite McAuliffe's harsh attack against Youngkin's connection with Carlyle, the Post in August published a very positive picture of his 26 years with one of the world's most prominent private equity firms.
He was considered extremely capable, well liked, inspiring and principled, according to his colleagues. He became partner after only four years in 1999, then rose to the highest position as "co-CEO" with Kewsong Lee.
And he made Carlyle and himself extremely wealthy. Personally worth over $300-million today, he has used a portion of that wealth to fund his campaign and keep up with McAuliffe's political spending.
Why has the Post not done what one assumes it would: go hard after the Republican challenger and fail to toss a few grenades at McAuliffe?
Speculation is that the Post thinks Youngkin might win and may have to deal with him after Nov. 2.
Will Youngkin win? It's far from clear. The in-crowd says the enthusiasm is with the GOP. But if he does, he should be sure to send a thank-you note to the owner of The Washington Post, Jeff Bezos.
Allan H. Ryskind, a columnist and former editor and owner of Human Events, is the author of "Hollywood Traitors" (Regnery, 2015), a book on how the Communist Party attempted to seize the movie industry.
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