Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin Campaign Attacked Teen in Deleted Tweet

  • Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s campaign went after a high school senior on Saturday.
  • The tweet was deleted, but Ethan Lynne told Insider he was shocked to be attacked by Team Youngkin.
  • “I figured this points to the fact that we have to elect good people,” Lynne said.

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s campaign attacked a 17-year-old on Saturday in a since-deleted tweet that included the boy’s name and photo, sparking criticism.

The Team Youngkin Twitter account was responding to a tweet sent by Ethan Lynne, a high school senior who is active in Virginia politics. Lynne tweeted about a story from public radio station VPM concerning a room in Virginia’s Executive Mansion that was used to educate about slavery.

VPM later issued a correction to the story, which Lynne also noted in a reply to his original tweet.

But Team Youngkin replied as well, tweeting out a photo of Lynne with former Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, writing: “Here’s a picture of Ethan with a man that had a Blackface/KKK photo in his yearbook.” The photo of Lynne and Northam was shared alongside a photograph from Northam’s 1984 yearbook. (Northam has previously apologized for appearing in the yearbook photo.)

In a phone interview with Insider on Sunday, Lynne said he was shocked when he first saw the tweet. 

“The golden rule in politics is to never attack minors, and I’m seeing the governor’s official campaign arm posting a photo of me that I never gave them permission to post,” he said.

Team Youngkin’s tweet, which was sent Saturday afternoon, was quickly met with criticism online, including from Virginia state lawmakers.

Lynne, who issued a public statement about the incident, said the tweet wasn’t deleted until Sunday morning.

Now-deleted tweet sent by Team Youngkin that says: "Here's a picture of Ethan with a man that had a Blackface/KKK photo in his yearbook."

Now-deleted tweet sent by Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s campaign.

Ethan Lynne/Twitter

Team Youngkin has not acknowledged the deleted tweet, and Lynne told Insider he has not heard from them.

Team Youngkin and a representative for the governor’s office did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment.

A Youngkin campaign spokesman told The Washington Post the tweet was deleted after Team Youngkin realized Lynne was a minor. Lynne’s Twitter bio says: “Virginian. HS Senior. Democrat.”

Lynn said that while he was not a fan of Youngkin before this incident, the tweet seemed like a new low to him.

“I knew that the bar was already on the floor for him and his team but I didn’t realize that the floor was 30 feet below the floor where I thought it was,” he said.

Since the tweet was posted, Lynne said he has heard from legislators, activists, family, friends, and neighbors offering their support.

Currently an unpaid intern for Virginia State Sen. Scott Surovell, Lynne said he started volunteering for Democratic campaigns when he was 10 years old. He said while the tweet initially made him question his involvement in politics, ultimately it has motivated him.

“I thought, ‘If this is what politics is going to be, is this really the life for me?’ But then I figured this points to the fact that we have to elect good people,” he said. “And someone has to step up and work hard to make sure the good people get elected.”

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