Republican Glenn Youngkin won Virginia's gubernatorial race after Democrat Terry McAuliffe conceded to him Wednesday morning.
Youngkin, a businessman, spent 25 years at the private equity firm The Carlyle Group before entering politics. McAuliffe previously served as Virginia's governor from 2014 to 2018.
According to his campaign website, Youngkin ran on a platform of "protecting and defending Virginians' Constitutional rights and personal liberties," creating jobs and lowering costs of living in Virginia and reinvigorating the state's economy.
During a September debate, Youngkin also said he supports individual choice when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine, saying he "encourages everyone to get the vaccine" but opposes vaccine mandates.
Virginia's elections saw national attention as one of two states holding a governor's race in 2021. This year's race set new campaign fundraising records, with McAuliffe and Youngkin bringing in more than $88 million in total fundraising - a new high in the Virginia governor's contest.
Political experts expected the race to be closely watched for its implications on national elections in 2022 and beyond.
The Republican Governors Association released a statement following Youngkin’s victory. They said they are proud to have supported his campaign, with investing over $14 million.
“The RGA is thrilled to congratulate Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin on winning a hard-fought race that many wrote off as unwinnable for Republicans,” said RGA Chairman Governor Doug Ducey. “Glenn ran an excellent and inspiring campaign that raises the bar for candidates across the country. Unlike his opponent, Glenn didn’t need a cast of national surrogates to do his work for him; he connected directly with voters on issues that matter to Virginians. The RGA is honored to have worked with Glenn throughout the general election and we look forward to welcoming him to our ranks as Virginia’s next governor.”
“We are proud to have partnered with the Youngkin campaign over the last several months, working closely to execute an effective plan to win in a state Joe Biden carried by 10 points a year ago,” said RGA Executive Director Dave Rexrode. “Together, we were able to define the race on our terms and provide the resources needed for all voters to hear Glenn’s vision for a safer, more prosperous Commonwealth. We are excited to have Governor-Elect Youngkin as our 28th Republican Governor.”
McAuliffe released the following statement conceding the election to Youngkin:
"While last night we came up short, I am proud that we spent this campaign fighting for the values we so deeply believe in. We must protect Virginia's great public schools and invest in our students. We must protect affordable health care coverage, raise the minimum wage faster, and expand paid leave so working families have a fighting shot. We must protect voting rights, protect a woman's right to choose, and, above all else, we must protect our democracy. While there will be setbacks along the way, I am confident that the long term path of Virginia is toward inclusion, openness and tolerance for all.
"Congratulations to Governor-Elect Glenn Youngkin on his victory. I hope Virginians will join me in wishing the best to him and his family.
"I would like to thank my wife Dorothy, my family, and my incredible campaign team for their tireless efforts and dedication over these past eleven months. And to all of my supporters across Virginia who knocked on millions of doors, made countless phone calls, and talked to their family, friends and neighbors: I am eternally grateful that you joined me on this journey to move Virginia forward.
"Serving as Virginia’s 72nd governor was the highest honor of my life, and I will never stop fighting to make our Commonwealth stronger and brighter for all."
Current Gov. Ralph Northam also released a statement congratulating Youngkin on his win.
“This morning I spoke with Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin to congratulate him on being elected Governor of the greatest Commonwealth in the greatest country in the world. We will meet tomorrow to begin a smooth transition to his administration.
“We can all be proud that Virginia once again conducted a free and fair election with integrity. It is a hallmark of our American democracy that we all respect the results, no matter who wins. I want to thank the Virginia Department of Elections, registrars, poll workers, and all of the volunteers whose work sustains our shared faith in our democracy. Their commitment and integrity know no bounds.
“I encouraged the Governor-elect to continue the progress Virginia has begun—
- bringing $77 billion in new capital investment and 100,000 jobs,
- allocating the largest financial reserves in state history,
- making Virginia the best state for business and for workers,
- investing a record amount in public education,
- expanding access to healthcare, early childhood education and free community college,
- delivering universal broadband and clean energy,
- delivering vaccination rates in the top ten among the states, and
- making voting easier, even as other states make it harder.
“Over the past four years, Virginia has accomplished something unique in America—delivering the most progressive agenda in the country, while also preserving traditions of fiscal responsibility and economic stewardship. Most importantly, we have made Virginia a more welcoming, open, and inclusive Commonwealth. Virginians expect this critical work to continue.
“This election brought record voter turnout for a non-presidential election, because Virginians are engaged and involved in our government and democracy. That’s something we can all be proud of.
“Finally, thanks to every candidate who ran, from every party. It’s no small thing to put yourself out there as a candidate for public office, and we need good people to continue that commitment to public service.”