For a year Trumpworld struggled to find jobs. But now they’re getting hired again — in Virginia.

GOP gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin (left), former President Donald Trump (right).Getty Images

  • Youngkin plans to fill key Virginia positions with former Trump aides.

  • Tapping into Trumpworld is inevitable in modern Republican politics.

  • Democrats across the state are railing against one candidate in particular.

Glenn Youngkin kept former President Donald Trump at bay last fall as he campaigned across Virginia and, in a comeback victory, became the Commonwealth’s first elected Republican governor in more than a decade.

But as he prepares to take office, Youngkin invites Trumpworld into his entourage. An Insider analysis of Youngkin’s recently announced appointments shows that a third of his new hires worked for the Trump presidential administration in some capacity.

Ahead of his January 15 inauguration, Youngkin has recruited from the ranks of Trump administration veterans, many of whom have faced a tough job market in the year since the two-time impeached former president. times left Washington, DC, nearly a year. There are

Among Youngkin’s day one picks for key roles in the former Dominion: Andrew Wheeler, head of the Environmental Protection Agency under the Trump administration, whose nomination as Virginia’s secretary of natural resources has sparked outcry from Democrats, who consider him beholden to fossil fuels and the interests of energy companies.

Youngkin’s new chief of staff, Jeff Goettman, worked at the Treasury Department during the Trump administration before becoming chief operating officer of Youngkin’s gubernatorial bid.

And Youngkin’s deputy chief of staff and director of communications, Rebecca Glover, served as director of public affairs at the Commerce Department during the Trump administration.

Youngkin also chose Richard Cullen, a personal attorney for former Vice President Mike Pence, to be his chief attorney in Virginia’s capital, Richmond. Cullen most recently represented Pence in the United States House of Representatives special inquiry into the January 6, 2021, deadly attack on the United States Capitol.

In Cullen, Youngkin turned to a longtime Richmond insider who previously served as a US attorney in the George HW Bush administration, and later Virginia attorney general. Cullen’s son, Thomas Cullen, served as a US attorney in the Trump administration before becoming a federal judge in West Virginia.

WASHINGTON, DC JANUARY 9: (L-R) US President Donald Trump looks on as EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler speaks during an event to unveil significant changes to the National Environmental Policy Act, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on January 9, 2020 in Washington, DC.  Changes to the nations landmark environmental law would make it easier for federal agencies to approve infrastructure projects without considering climate change.  President Trump also answered several questions from reporters, including questions about Iran and impeachment.

Andrew Wheeler, then administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, said in 2019 that he believed President Donald Trump would be “vindicated” upon his first impeachment.Drew Angerer/Getty Images

“Trying to Balance”

Former Republican Rep. Tom Davis, who was part of Youngkin’s transition team, described any overlap between Trump’s former aides and Youngkin’s evolving network as “de minimis.” He urged critics to give new recruits a chance to prove themselves.

“The fact that it’s only one-third means you’re trying to balance a party that’s been very loyal to Donald Trump,” the seven-term Virginia congressman said of the election process. Hiring of Youngkin.

It was a balance Youngkin carefully negotiated on the campaign trail as he battled former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who for much of the race led polls nationwide. ‘State.

Youngkin’s campaign reportedly panicked when Trump announced before the November election that he was planning a trip to Virginia.

Youngkin’s team preferred to keep the polarizing former president out and out of state, something President Joe Biden comfortably won — by 10 percentage points — a year earlier. Trump ultimately did not physically show up in Virginia to campaign for Youngkin and instead held a virtual “tele-rally” which Youngkin himself skipped.

Republican political consultant Jeff Roe, the architect of Youngkin’s delicate dance with Trump, visited Trump’s Florida redoubt in Mar-a-Lago after the Virginia election to mend the relationship with the former president , who felt he didn’t get enough credit for the Republican victory, reported The Washington Post.

A political novice, Youngkin rose to the governorship without his own existing network — and with veterans of Virginia’s last Republican administration, under scandal-ridden Bob McDonnell, long sidelined from government. McDonnell was found guilty of multiple counts of bribery, fraud and bribery in 2014, only to have the US Supreme Court overturn the decision two years later.

But the flow of officials from the Trump presidency to Youngkin’s administration was not simply an inevitable career step for displaced Republican politicians seeking to stay in government.

Youngkin’s transition team, with the help of a search firm, sought out young Republicans outside the Richmond establishment who had recently served in government, a person familiar with the process told Insider. recruitment.

Tom davis

Former Rep. Tom Davis worked on Glenn Youngkin’s transition team.Tom Williams/Roll Call/Getty Images

Choosing the Right Republicans

Indeed, hiring Trump alumni is inevitable in modern politics, Davis said. Recruiting political professionals with relevant government experience who have not worked for Trump, he said, would require sifting through the resumes of George W. Bush alumni from more than a decade ago. .

“If you want someone with expertise in government, you necessarily have to look at people who have served in administration,” Davis said. “Because there’s no other farm crew in Virginia.”

But the selective choice of Trump alumni — as opposed to the general reception of Trump-endorsed voter fraud conspiracy theorists — shows discipline on Youngkin’s part, Davis said.

Likewise, refusing to blackball those who previously worked for Trump but didn’t necessarily agree with everything the former president did while in office shows compassion, Davis said.

“Just because someone served in the Trump administration doesn’t make them a Trumper,” Davis added.

Insider asked all of Youngkin’s Trump-affiliated candidates about their history with Trump and their plans for the future. Several said they were unable to respond without explicit permission from Youngkin’s press office, which they did not receive.

Youngkin’s transition team did not respond to a request for comment.

In addition to tapping into the Trump well, Youngkin also selected candidates for his gubernatorial administration from three of the four previous administrations. His picks include alumni from Team Obama (one), Team George W. Bush (four), and Team George HW Bush (two).

Wheeler has drawn the most political heat of Youngkin’s picks to date, with Virginia Senate Democrats slamming him as an “awkward nomination” they will work to block in the state legislature. Virginia Republicans control the House side of the state legislature, but Democrats hold a two-seat advantage in the Senate, which if they stay united could stall things in the Committee on Privileges and Privileges. elections.

Youngkin’s selection of Wheeler could backfire, Davis said, given that his closeness to Trump makes him “kind of a lightning rod.” Davis predicted that a contentious confirmation process could be Youngkin’s first real test of power.

“He might be one of the Democrats wanting to hit him,” Davis said, calling a noisy battle for the nomination “a low-hanging fruit for them.”

Youngkin called Wheeler “incredibly skilled” earlier this week and vowed to take him on board no matter what.

“My election in November represented Virginians standing up and saying we’re tired of people trying to smear people because of who they work for or what team they’re on,” he said. he told the local outlet VPM News. “Andrew is going to be part of Glenn Youngkin’s team.”

Overall, Davis said he was pleased with Youngkin’s recruiting efforts to date.

“He’s got a lot of very capable people,” Davis said, adding the problem is “that doesn’t necessarily breed success.”

“Just look at the Biden administration,” Davis said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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