As hundreds of motorists were stranded for hours on Interstate 95 in Virginia this week, many on social media were quick to blame Republican Glenn Youngkin, who was elected the commonwealth’s new governor in November.
Just one problem, however: Youngkin won’t be sworn in until Jan. 15, leaving the highway mess in the hands of lame-duck Democrat Ralph Northam.
The Twitter accusations flew as hundreds of travelers, including Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), were stranded in their vehicles Monday evening into Tuesday — with some waiting more than 24 hours for help. A severe storm slammed the region Monday with several inches of snow and ice, leaving traffic on a 50-mile stretch of the main East Coast artery at a standstill.
“Looks Youngkin failed his first test in Va, with traffic stopped for 10-12 hrs on 95 in Virginia. Failure for gov,” wrote one user, who described themselves as a “liberal transplant in NC.”
“So, where’s Republican Gov Youngkin in this I-95 mega-disaster???? 48 mile shutdown for hours & hours in VA & he’s nowhere to be found. This never happened under Dem Gov Northam—or any other Gov for that matter!!!!! Shame!” another tweeted.
“Collateral damage between Glenn Youngkin and the wrath of God,” posted South Florida Sun-Sentinel columnist Fred Grimm.
The errors were immediately noticed by other social media users, who were quick to point out that Northam was still in charge.
“Glenn Youngkin is inaugurated on Jan. 15…” Fox News contributor Joe Concha responded to one tweet.
“In a related story, Ralph Northam (D) is still Governor of Virginia,” he said to another.
“Glenn Youngkin isn’t the governor of Virginia yet. Ralph Northam is,” posted Dan Eberhart, CEO of drilling services company Canary. “Liberals trying to be mad at Youngkin for the unacceptably slow response to the people trapped on I-95 are actually mad at Northam, but they can’t admit that to themselves.”
Many called on the critics to take down their tweets and admit their mistakes — and some obliged.
Conservative Jonah Goldberg, editor-in-chief of the Dispatch, originally tweeted Tuesday morning: “If I was Glenn Youngkin, I’d be flooding the zone to get this I-95 crap fixed. DC suburbs are vengeful about this kind of thing.”
While he followed up with a tweet admitting Youngkin was indeed not governor yet, Goldberg ultimately deleted his original post.
“I deleted the original tweet because even tho I quickly admitted my error, I’m still getting dumb replies from people who don’t know that or don’t care,” he wrote with a screenshot of his mistake.
At least one user who put the blame on the soon-to-be governor attempted to backtrack on their accusation without leaving a trace.
Left-wing journalist Eric Boehlert originally described the I-95 standstill as the beginning of the “Youngkin era” in Virginia, before quickly and quietly deleting the message. However, critics still shared a screenshot of the post.
Northam tweeted Tuesday that Virginians should avoid I-95 and stay at home “unless absolutely necessary.” In an interview with the Washington Post late Tuesday, the governor said more people should have heeded his advice.
“We gave warnings, and people need to pay attention to these warnings, and the less people that are on the highways when these storms hit, the better,” he said. “I feel for these people that are stranded but just want to let them know we’re doing everything we can to get to them in a very challenging situation.”