Rising GOP star Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) will travel to Maine this week to campaign for Republican gubernatorial candidate Paul LePage, a controversial former governor seeking a third term.
Youngkin, who has been rumored as a potential 2024 presidential candidate, is traveling to several states this year to boost GOP candidates. He will make a stop for a fundraiser in Lewiston, Maine, on Wednesday, The Washington Post reported.
The Virginia leader’s pit stop to support LePage has drawn some scrutiny because of controversial comments made by the Maine candidate, including self-anointing himself as the “Donald Trump before Donald Trump.”
LePage served as Maine’s governor from 2011 to 2019 but is allowed to seek a third term under state law after sitting one term out. He was officially approved in February.
LePage is taking on Gov. Janet Mills (D) in November in what is expected to be a highly competitive race. According to a May poll from Pan Atlantic Research, Mills is slightly leading LePage, 46 percent to 42 percent.
LePage’s governorship was known for cutting taxes, making state welfare reductions and paying off Medicare debt to hospitals. When his term finished, he said he was retiring in Florida and would not return, before changing his mind and seeking a third term.
LePage is also known for making controversial comments — including racially charged ones about Blacks and Hispanics as well as suggesting that drug dealers are impregnating White girls.
The former governor has since tried to distance himself from his past, telling News Center Maine in February that he has had a “big change” since leaving office and wishes to bridge the divide between political parties.
“We need to find a path to have civil discourse so we can talk both sides of the argument,” he told the local outlet.
Youngkin won the Virginia governor’s race last year in a surprise win for the Republican party last year that established him as an up-and-coming star.
In the coming weeks, Youngkin is also making additional stops in Georgia, Kansas, New Mexico, Nevada and Oregon to support Republican candidates ahead of the midterm elections.
The Virginia Democratic Party has submitted public records requests to view the governor’s travel records, expressing frustration that Youngkin is spending taxpayer money on out-of-state races.
Youngkin’s office told the party the governor pays for his own political travel.
According to The Post, Youngkin also defended his decision to travel to Maine to stump for LePage, telling reporters last week that he doesn’t know of any “racially inflammatory statements and, therefore, I’m not sure that that’s accurate.”
Virginia Democrats, who are also outraged over the LePage scandal, tweeted Sunday that Youngkin is acting “disgraceful” by supporting the candidate.