Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin's (R) official campaign Twitter account deleted a post on Sunday that singled out a 17-year-old high school student, including his name and photo, 12 hours after posting the tweet.
The student, Ethan Lynne, retweeted an article from Virginia Public Media on Saturday about the resignation of a historical interpreter at the Virginia governor's mansion who quit after Youngkin's team reportedly emptied out her office. The historian, Kelley Fanto Deetz, had focused on the history of enslaved people at the mansion. "Team Youngkin" replied to Lynne's tweet with a photo of him and former Gov. Ralph Northam, next to a old photo from Northam's yearbook page that included somebody in blackface. VPM's Ben Paviour posted a screenshot of the deleted tweet.
"Youngkin ran for office as a sunny, basketball-loving dad-next-door figure who promised to transcend political divisions even as he stoked culture wars related to K-12 education," The Washington Post reports, noting that the governor recently urged a Virginia woman threatening to carry a loaded gun to her local school board meeting if the district didn't drop its mask mandate to "love your neighbors." Youngkin's divisive executive order banning mask requirements was temporally blocked in court on Friday.
Youngkin spokeswoman Macaulay Porter declined requests for comment from VPM and the Post, but Matt Wolking, a Youngkin campaign consultant at Axiom Strategies, explained in a statement that the tweet was taken down because "it was brought to attention that this Democrat Party official" is "actually a minor." He said Youngkin had neither seen nor signed off on the tweet.
Lynne, who has worked as an unpaid intern and volunteer for Virginia Democrats, told VPM he "was appalled and shocked that the governor would attack a minor who was also a constituent and leave the tweet up for over 12 hours." He told the Post he "received no apology, no communication, nothing." Virginia Democratic lawmakers slammed Youngkin's campaign for "cyber-bullying" a minor. State Sen. Adam Ebbin (D) suggested Youngkin learn "you need thick skin" in politics.