RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – Republican Glenn Youngkin has won the Virginia governor’s race, denying Democrat Terry McAuliffe a rare second term and snapping a losing streak for GOP statewide candidates in the commonwealth.
The Associated Press projected Youngkin as the race winner after midnight.
The victory for Youngkin, a first-time candidate, could signal a shift in the commonwealth’s political landscape and lay out a plan for Republicans running in competitive states in the post-Trump era.
The heavily nationalized election was seen as a measure of voters’ enthusiasm for Democratic control in the commonwealth. Youngkin and other Virginia Republicans targeted policy changes enacted during the Democrats’ rein over the state legislature and top elected offices, such as several gun control measures, as an example of government overreach amid a shift in power.
“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.
Since sweeping all three races in 2009, Republican candidates have not been elected statewide. The other Republican statewide candidates, Winsome Sears and Del. Jason Miyares (Virginia Beach), hold narrow leads in the races for lieutenant governor and attorney general.
Virginia’s elections has also been framed as a bellwether of next year’s midterms, where Democrats hope to maintain their party’s narrow majority in Congress.
Youngkin will follow in the footsteps of Gov. Ralph Northam (D), who was prohibited from running for a second consecutive by the state’s constitution.
McAuliffe, who served as governor from 2014 to 2018, sought to be the second Virginia governor to be popularly elected twice. Mills Godwin, who won as a Democrat in 1966 and then as a Republican in 1974, was the first.
When addressing his supporters in northern Virginia before the race was ultimately called, McAuliffe did not concede or claim a victory and told the crowd “Let’s count all these votes.”
“We have to make sure we protect women’s right to choose in the commonwealth,” McAuliffe said. “We have to make sure everyone gets quality affordable health care, everyone’s entitled to a world-class education in Virginia, and we are going to continue that fight tonight and everyday going forward.”
All statewide election results in Virginia are unofficial until they are certified by the State Board of Elections on Nov. 15.
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