Retired Navy Captain Hung Cao, a Republican U.S. Senate candidate in Virginia, told Breitbart News in an exclusive interview that the Old Dominion is just as competitive as any swing state heading into 2024 and cautioned not to “underestimate Virginia and what it can bring to the political battlefield.”
Cao, who seeks to unseat Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), spoke with Breitbart News via a phone interview on Monday, where he offered a lay of the political landscape in Virginia with the next presidential election and down-ballot races less than a year out.
“Oh, absolutely,” he said when asked if he sees Virginia being as competitive as other swing states, like Arizona or Pennsylvania.
“I think people underestimate Virginia,” Cao said. “If you travel throughout Virginia, you will see it’s not blue; it may be purple.”
He acknowledged the conservative areas in the southern part of the state before zoning in on several counties in the North, including “Prince William County, Fauquier County, Rappahannock County, and beyond.”
That pocket of counties sits just below Washington, DC, and all became increasingly red in Gov. Glen Youngkin’s (R-VA) 2021 victory compared to the 2020 presidential election. For instance, Trump carried Fauquier County and Rappahannock County by 17.3 points and 14.4 points, respectively, over President Joe Biden in 2020. In 2021, Youngkin won Fauquier County by 31.4 percentage points and took Rappahannock County by 19.5 points over Democrat Terry McAuliffe.
Moreover, in 2021, Prince William County broke for Biden over Trump by 27 percent, but Youngkin lost to McAuliffe there a year later by a margin of 14.8 percent. The trend indicates that these counties have become increasingly conservative in recent years, and a window is there for Republicans in 2024. However, it is worth noting that turnout was higher in these counties during 2020 than in 2021, which is to be expected given that it was a presidential election.
Cao noted that in western Virginia as well, folks “are very patriotic, and they love this country.”
“I think it’s wrong for people to underestimate Virginia and what it can bring to the political battlefield,” Cao said. “I’m going into this because there is a path to victory. Don’t forget the last three statewide elections in Virginia were won by Republicans. Governor Glenn Youngkin, Lieutenant Governor Winsome Sears, and Attorney General Jason Miyares were all Republicans, and those were statewide races.”
He also pushed back against mainstream media narratives and leftist talking points that Democrats had some resounding victory in the state legislature earlier this month.
“If you look at the 2023 race, people will call doom and gloom on Virginia, but to be very honest, we only are down by one Senate vote in the Virginia Senate, and then down by one in the House of Delegates. But if you look at the entire electorate in 2023, it was pretty much dead even of Republicans and Democrats that came out this past election cycle, so I think that 2024, being a presidential year, more people will turn out. I mean, presidential years are just the way they are, you know, most people only vote in presidential years; they’ll wear their Sunday suits and come out there and vote, and so I think the more people that come out in 2024, the better [it]will be for Virginia and for this country,” Cao said.
Cao looks to secure the Republican nomination to earn a general election showdown with Kaine, who was twice-failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s running mate in 2016.
“Let’s contrast me with with Tim Kaine. He claims he served this country for 30 years, and I wore a uniform for 30 years, but the backgrounds are very different,” said Cao, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy who spent 25 years of his career in special operations and saw countless deployments.
“He’s forgotten who he serves, which he serves the people of the Commonwealth of Virginia. I’ve served the United States my entire life. I’ve served this country, I’ve bled for this country, I’ve balanced a budget,” Cao said, referring to the $140 billion U.S. Navy budget he was tasked with balancing at the Pentagon. “Now I’m in industry; I know what it takes for industry to prevail in this country.”
While contrasting himself with Kaine, Cao noted his first-hand experience as an immigrant, having been a refugee who escaped Vietnam in 1975 with his family at just four years old – days before Saigon fell in 1975. Cao discussed his early years and background in depth with Breitbart News during the same interview, which was reported in an article published earlier Wednesday.
“As an immigrant, I’m telling you right now, don’t ask for the American dream if you don’t embrace the American laws. We need to secure that border. We need to have higher walls and wider gates because the immigration system in this country is broken, and because it’s broken, politicians will exploit it to allow for millions of illegal immigrants to come to this country and inundate our shores and inundate our resources. We need to be able to secure the border but allow for those who want to come here legally to come in the most expeditious and methodical manner,” Cao explained.
Virginia is one of several states across the country where Republicans have opportunities to flip Senate seats and recapture a majority. Currently, the Democrat caucus in the Senate has 49 Democrats and a pair of independents who caucus with them, while the GOP has 49 Senators. One state that looks to be all but turning red already is West Virginia, where Gov. Jim Justice (R-WV) is far and away the leading candidate, and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) will not seek reelection. From there, Republicans would need just one seat for a majority, but opportunities are abundant across the board in Arizona, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Montana, and Virginia.
Moreover, considering the strong polling prospects of late for several Republican presidential candidates in hypothetical races with President Joe Biden, Breitbart News asked Cao how crucial it is for Republicans to secure a strong multiple-seat majority rather than just a simple one-seat advantage.
“We need to ensure that the power goes back to the legislative body. For years now, the executive branch just rules by executive order. That’s not how it’s supposed to be,” Cao said. “We need a very strong majority to right the ship again, where we allow for decisions and laws to be made by the legislative branch, not by the executive branch.”
One vision Cao has is putting a three-year limit on regulations put in place by unelected officials in the Executive Branch, pointing to the Department of Energy, the Department of Transportation, and the Environmental Protection Agency as examples.
Under this plan, a particular regulation would have “a three-year shelf life, then after that, it must die or go to Congress” to become a law.
“If it’s that important, it needs to go to elected officials to become a law, not to be just dished out by unelected officials,” he said. “And this is where, like I said, the executive branch has too much power, and we need to rein that back in, and the only way to do that is to have a strong legislative body that will keep them in check.”