Republican Glenn Youngkin has won the Virginia governor’s race, defeating Democrat Terry McAuliffe, and snapping a losing streak for GOP statewide candidates in the commonwealth.
The Associated Press projected Youngkin as the race winner after midnight.
“Together, we will change the trajectory of this commonwealth,” Youngkin told a crowd of supporters after 1 a.m. Wednesday. “And friends, we are going to start that transformation on day one.”
Youngkin reiterated his campaign proposals after declaring victory, promising his supporters he would seek to end the grocery tax, increase teacher pay and remove all members of the state’s parole board.
A former private equity executive who has never held elected office, Youngkin sold himself as a political outsider while seeking to rally suburban voters around hot-button issues like how to handle the discussion of racism in schools and COVID-19 mask mandates in classrooms.
Youngkin will succeed outgoing Governor Ralph Northam, a Democrat. Under Virginia state law, governors cannot serve consecutive terms. McAuliffe, 64, served as governor from 2014 to 2018.
Youngkin focused his campaign on the political culture wars that have become dominant across most right-wing media.
He particularly leaned into education and the Republican Party’s outrage of systemic racism being discussed in schools. He promised to ban the teaching of “critical race theory” in Virginia’s schools while omitting the fact that it is not taught in Virginia schools.
Youngkin also focused on public safety, election integrity and freedom from COVID-19 vaccine and mask mandates; issues that Republicans anticipate will drive voter turnout in the 2022 mid-terms.
Former President Trump, who endorsed Youngkin, claimed credit for the victory in a Tuesday evening statement.
“I would like to thank my BASE for coming out in force and voting for Glenn Youngkin,” Trump said in a statement. “Without you, he would not have been close to winning. The MAGA movement is bigger and stronger than ever before.”