Republican Glenn Youngkin will be the next governor of Virginia, according to the Associated Press.
Youngkin, 54, will be the first Republican to serve as Virginia governor since former governor Bob McDonnell was elected in 2009. Youngkin will take office in January 2022, succeeding Gov. Ralph Northam (D), who was elected in 2017.
Unofficial results show Youngkin leading former Virginia governor Terry McAulffe, his Democratic opponent, by about 91,000 votes as of 12:42 a.m. Wednesday.
McAuliffe was leading in Prince William County by about 30,000 votes, with McAuliffe garnering 100,410 votes in the county compared to 70,439 for Youngkin with nearly all the votes counted.
Youngkin grew up in Richmond and Virginia Beach and now lives in Great Falls in Fairfax County. He spent 25 years working at the Carlyle Group, a global private equity firm and served as co-CEO of the firm from 2018 until his retirement in September 2020.
Youngkin ran a campaign focused on lowering taxes for Virginians, boosting pay for public school teachers, adding more police officers in schools and adding 20 new charter schools in Virginia.
Youngkin has also campaigned on a wave of resentment in conservative circles about how the history of racism has been taught in public schools. The banning of “Critical Race Theory,” which Youngkin has called a “political agenda,” has become a rallying cry of his campaign. “Critical Race Theory” is a graduate-level legal theory that is not currently taught in Virginia public schools.
At the campaign stop in Manassas last month, Youngkin said he wants to stand up to the “liberal, progressive agenda that's been trying to turn Virginia into ‘California east.’”
McAuliffe, 64, served as Virginia governor from 2014 to 2018. McAuliffe is from upstate New York. He lives in McLean in Fairfax County. Prior to serving as governor, McAuliffe was a businessman and also served as the Chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 2001 until 2005.
McAuliffe ran a campaign centered on progressive issues, such as an increased minimum wage, funding for clean energy and criminal justice reform. McAuliffe also campaigned on raising teacher salaries above the national average and expanding early childhood education in the commonwealth.
At polling locations in Prince William County on Tuesday, several voters said they cast their ballots for Youngkin because of his stances on economic issues, education and critical race theory.
At Brentsville High School this morning, a busy Republican-leaning precinct in western Prince William County, Erich Lorenz said he cast his vote for Youngkin because he thinks Democrats in Virginia have moved “too far to the left,” and because he wants to see critical race theory banned in schools.
Tyler Hogan, a 19-year-old from Brentsville, said he voted for Youngkin because he thinks he will help re-open businesses that closed or began operating differently during the pandemic. Hogan said the fast-food chain he works at, Chik-Fil-A, is struggling to fully staff the restaurant.
Another Brentsville resident, Jaclyn Dougan, voted for McAuliffe Tuesday morning. Dougan, who works as an emergency room nurse at Prince William Medical Center, said she did not agree with the Republican Party’s hesitancy about requiring COVID-19 vaccinations and masking.
“You haven’t seen how many people we’ve seen die,” Dougan said.
Dougan also said she did not want to vote for anyone endorsed by former President Donald Trump. Trump endorsed Youngkin several times throughout his campaign.
In another Republican leaning precinct, Heritage Hunt in Gainesville, Clarence and Jennifer Swider split their tickets between Republicans and Democrats. They both voted for Youngkin at the top of the ticket and for Republican Winsome Sears for lieutenant governor, but voted to re-elect Attorney General Mark Herring and Del. Danica Roem, both Democrats.
Clarence Swider said he hadn’t made up his mind about the election until he stepped behind the voting booth. He said he felt so inundated with advertisements in the run up to the election, and with conflicting information about the candidates, that it made the decision very difficult.
“I’m in the middle. I voted both Democrat and Republican,” Clarence Swider said.
Liam Bowman contributed to this report.