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The Gathering 2023

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A Kemp-Youngkin tandem has some Trump critics dreaming of a new GOP ticket

5:29 PM

The two Republican governors took the stage Saturday at a conservative conference in Atlanta wearing remarkably similar clothing and outlining remarkably similar visions.

Georgia’s Brian Kemp and Virginia’s Glenn Youngkin also may share something else in common: possible national ambitions.

With Donald Trump’s rivals struggling to make up ground, some senior Republicans have pined for either of the two to enter the 2024 as a “break the emergency glass” alternative to Trump.

While the two have rejected those overtures — and Kemp has warned that expanding the field could only help President Joe Biden — their appearance at The Gathering drew attention from donors and activists pining for a new Trump rival.

Both have sharply different rises to power. Kemp had a tight alliance with Trump before their relationship fell apart after the governor defied calls to overturn his 2020 defeat, then won reelection two years later over a primary challenge sponsored by the former president.

Youngkin captured a Democratic-dominated state in 2021 with a campaign that neither embraced nor rejected Trump and focused instead on pandemic-era education policies that infuriated many parents.

Both spoke of energizing conservatives and wooing swing voters by focusing on economic and education policies. Youngkin spoke of Kemp’s 2022 reelection as the “first edition of the playbook” he hopes to replicate in Virginia.

And both urged the crowd of conservative activists to stay engaged.

“We used to kill them in early voting and absentee voting here in Georgia. Then we got complacent, and had other people say, ‘don’t go do this,’” Kemp said. “Well the rules are the same for both sides, so we have to take advantage.”

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