Republican former private-equity executive Glenn Youngkin defeated Democrat Terry McAuliffe becoming the 74th Governor of Virginia, as preliminary election results released by the Virginia Department of Elections showed he secured 50.68 percent of the votes, with his rival McAuliffe receiving 48.55 percent.
Virginians cast their votes on Tuesday (Nov. 2), electing a Republican to be their governor for the first time since 2010. The final results of the election are expected to be unveiled in a few days, since absentee ballots are being accepted until noon on Nov. 5.
Youngkin, a 54-year-old political neophyte focused during the bitterly fought election on crime and the economy, as well as education, public health, and culture issues. He opposed mask and vaccine mandates, promised to expand Virginia’s limited charter schools and ban critical race theory.
Youngkin was born in Richmond, Virginia in 1966. In 1990, he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in managerial studies and a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering. He earned a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Harvard Business School in 1994.
Prior to entering politics, he spent 25 years at the private-equity firm the Carlyle Group, later becoming its CEO stepped down from the Carlyle Group in September 2020, and announced his candidacy for the 2021 Virginia gubernatorial election in January 2021.
The election was seen as the first major test of voter sentiment since U.S. President Joe Biden took office and suggested growing frustration with Biden and the economy. Youngkin’s victory over McAuliffe also came in a state Biden won by 10 points in 2020.
The results also unnerve the Democrats pointing to a potentially painful year ahead for them as they try to maintain thin majorities in Congress.
“This is the spirit of Virginia coming together like never before” Youngkin told a cheering crowd of supporters. “For too long, we’ve been expected to shelve our dreams, to shelve our hope, to settle for low expectations. We will not be a commonwealth of low expectations. We’ll be a commonwealth of high expectations.”
The Republican Party, also referred to as the GOP (“Grand Old Party”), tweeted on Wednesday: “Republicans WON BIG up and down the ballot on Tuesday and will carry this momentum into the 2022 midterms.”
Virginia always elects a new governor one year after presidential races.
With reporting by AP, CBS, NBC