There were plenty of lessons for Democrats to learn from the shock victory of Republican Glenn Youngkin in Tuesday night’s gubernatorial election in Virginia. Perhaps the most important is that Terry McAuliffe should have focused more on local issues instead of nationalizing the race. Youngkin was able to tap into the ire of local parents protesting their school boards on a litany issues, including critical race theory and transgender bathroom policies.
An often overlooked point in debates about critical race theory (and whether or not it is being taught in Virginia schools) is that the parent movement started in response to pandemic-related school closures and the shifting standards of teacher’s unions and school boards for reopening.
Cockburn received a tip that this could soon be a hot topic in the 2022 Maryland gubernatorial race as well. With the CDC’s approval of COVID-19 vaccines for children between the ages of five and eleven, some cities are already moving toward vaccine mandates for schoolchildren. Parents could be faced with a “Sophie’s Choice”, as Bethany Mandel put it yesterday:
“Children between the ages of five and eleven now have to be vaccinated against a virus that doesn’t pose a risk of serious illness or death to them — and with a vaccine whose long-term effects on children are unknown.”
Nonetheless, Maryland comptroller Peter Franchot, who has already announced a run for governor, is on board for a statewide mandate.
MarylandReporter.com asked Franchot this week if he would require young children to get the COVID vaccine in order to attend school if he were elected governor.
“Yes,” Franchot asserted.
Franchot also promised there would be relatively few exemptions for parents to opt their children out of the mandate.
“It be would be similar to polio, measles-whatever restrictions are on there. But they are relatively limited. I would not have any expansive, kind of philosophical objection. I don’t believe in that. This is a public safety threat. We are going to meet it. And we should meet it emphatically. We need to put the threat of the virus behind us.”
Jon Baron was the first gubernatorial candidate to call for vaccine mandates in schools, but his proposal was limited to students 16 years of age and older.
Cockburn will be the first to warn these candidates that going all-in on restrictive COVID policies, particularly in regards to children, will not be a popular position. Keeping kids out of schools in Loudoun County in Virginia turned it from deep blue — Biden won Loudoun by about twenty-five points — to a county that McAuliffe won by just over ten points. Could the same happen in Montgomery County, Maryland, where residents are still dealing with unreasonable mask mandates, and potentially, vaccine mandates in schools?
A Goucher College poll recently found that Marylanders are open to electing another moderate Republican like current governor Larry Hogan. It would be awfully unwise for Democrats to hand the Republican Party a bipartisan wedge issue like child vaccine mandates.