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VICTOR JOECKS: Virginia governor’s race provides roadmap to turn Nevada red

What’s happening in Virginia should give Nevada Republicans hope — and a roadmap to follow.

On Tuesday, Virginia voters will decide on their next governor. This shouldn’t be a competitive race. President Joe Biden won the state by 10 points just a year ago. Virginia hasn’t elected a Republican to statewide office since 2009.

Yet, polls show the race between Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin is a virtual tie. A shocking poll from Fox News on Thursday had Youngkin up 8 points. Just two weeks ago, Fox had McAuliffe up 5 points.

Biden’s poor performance is obviously hurting McAuliffe. But Youngkin has made this race close by leaning into social issues, especially those involving education.

Across the country, parents have shown up at school board meetings outraged over the teaching of critical race theory. Parents in Virginia have been some of the most vocal.

“Critical race theory is racist. It is abusive. It discriminates against one’s color.” Shawntel Cooper, an African-American mom, said at a Virginia school board meeting in May.

She’s right. In classic Marxist fashion, CRT divides people into groups. Your skin color determines if you land among the oppressors or the oppressed. A foundational principle of CRT is that racism is inherent in governmental institutions and our founding principles.

All sorts of radical and destructive beliefs stem from these premises. White teachers and students are told their skin color makes them racist and beneficiaries of un­deserved privilege. The implication for minority students is that they are incapable of succeeding on their own. They first need white allies to change the inherently racist system that oppresses them.

All this stands in contrast with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s inspiring vision of judging people based on their character. CRT demands people obsess and define themselves by skin color and victim status.

Some Republicans would have shied away from this issue, fearful of being called racist. Not Youngkin. He’s been vocal about his opposition to CRT, putting McAuliffe on the defensive.

An interviewer asked McAuliffe to define CRT. He wouldn’t or couldn’t provide a definition, despite repeated prodding. He insisted it wasn’t taught and lazily smeared those opposed to it as “racist.”

Another education issue emerged, too. In some public school libraries, sexually explicit books were available to students. In one case, a Virginia school board member criticized a mom for reading from a book available in the library at the board meeting.

Youngkin made curriculum an issue. He stood up for parents and their rights to be involved in their child’s education.

McAuliffe then said what many in the education establishment actually think. “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach,” he said in a debate. He even doubled down on that sentiment.

There’s polling showing that education is the second most important issues in that race, behind the economy. Youngkin has gone from being behind McAuliffe on that issue to a small lead.

This issue could matter to Nevada parents, too. Asked if he agreed with McAuliffe’s statement on parents and schools, Gov. Steve Sisolak’s office refused to answer.

Republican gubernatorial hopefuls Sheriff Joe Lombardo and Dean Heller both strongly supported the rights of parents.

Lombardo said parents “must play a critical role” in decisions about curriculum and wants to empower parents with school choice.

“McAuliffe is wrong, and his comment reflects a misguided and elitist view of education,” Heller said.

That’s a start. Republican candidates should be proactive in finding opportunities to highlight these differences, especially as Democrats, such as Sisolak, work to avoid discussing them.

As Youngkin has shown in Virginia, these issues matter to parents, some of whom would otherwise vote Democrat. Even if Youngkin can’t pull out the upset, he’s set a course Nevada Republicans would be wise to follow.

Victor Joecks’ column appears in the Opinion section each Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. Contact him at vjoecks@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on Twitter.

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