WASHINGTON — Virginia Gov. Glen Youngkin will travel to Texas next month as the guest of honor at a reception and dinner hosted by a billionaire Republican political donor, raising speculation about the term-limited governor’s national political ambitions.
On that same April visit, Youngkin would speak at the George W. Bush Presidential Library, part of an event billed as “Forum on Leadership: Answering the Call”. Such events are often an opportunity for potential candidates to present their policy viewpoints to potential donors.
While in Texas, Youngkin will also be hosted by GOP megadonor Robert Rowling, owner of the Omni hotel chain, and his wife, Terri, according to a copy of the invitation obtained by NBC News. Forbes has estimated Rowling’s net worth at $5.5 billion.
The news of this dinner was first given by The Washington Post.
The trip to Texas comes as Youngkin, who is handcuffed by Virginia law, is building his national profile as he weighs a possible 2024 presidential run. In the 2022 midterms, he campaigned for Republican candidates in key battleground states including Georgia and Arizona. Last week he participated in a nationally televised town hall on CNN that focused on education – the signature issue of his 2021 gubernatorial campaign.
In January, Youngkin told NBC News that he was “overwhelmingly humble” when it came to the presidential campaign, but remained focused on Virginia. That remains the case, according to a source familiar with Youngkin’s thinking on the issue, but who also noted that in 2016, the last open GOP primary, candidates announced well into the summer, and those candidates who entered the race early Others, such as Jeb Bush and Scott Walker, quickly faded from controversy.
Youngkin barely registers in early 2024 voting, but his victory in a purple state, and his ability to significantly self-finance a national campaign, could leave him a lane in a potentially crowded GOP field .
The Dallas trip could introduce Youngkin to the fertile GOP fundraising grounds of Texas — especially with no Texas candidates currently expected to enter the race.
Rowling was a prodigious supporter of Republican campaigns in the 2022 midterms alone — giving half a million dollars to the main House GOP super PAC and a quarter million to the McConnell-coalition Senate Leadership Fund.