RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC)- Republicans swept statewide races this election season, a crushing defeat for Democrats who are seeing their decade-long winning streak come to an end.
It’s also considered a sign of trouble for Democrats ahead of Congressional midterms, as President Joe Biden carried the Commonwealth by 10 points just last year.
The rising red tide was led by Glenn Youngkin, the former private equity executive and political newcomer who is now expected to be Virginia’s next governor.
The Associated Press called the race for Youngkin at nearly 1 A.M. on Wednesday morning after hours of nail biting and ballot counting.
“Together we will change the trajectory of this commonwealth and, friends, we are going to start that transformation on day one,” Youngkin told a roaring crowd. “We can build a new day, a new day for Virginians where yes, we soar and we never settle.”
As of Wednesday evening, unofficial results from the Virginia Department of Elections showed Youngkin leading Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe 51% to 48%.
McAuliffe, who served as governor from 2014 to 2018, briefly spoke to his crowd on Tuesday night but didn’t concede until the morning. McAuliffe didn’t appear publicly and declined to be interviewed on Wednesday.
In a statement, McAuliffe thanked his supporters and congratulated 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.Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe
Big GOP turnout for Youngkin appeared to influence down ballot-races.
The AP called the lieutenant governor’s race for Republican Winsome Sears on Wednesday morning and for Del. Jason Miyares, the party’s pick for attorney general, later that evening.
Incumbent Attorney General Mark Herring and Del. Hala Ayala, the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor, have both conceded defeat.
Democrats are still holding their breath when it comes to control of the House of Delegates. Republicans have already claimed they won back the majority but, as of 6 P.M. on Wednesday, the AP had the GOP winning at least 50 seats in the chamber. That puts the party 1 seat away from taking power with some races still too close to call.
Regardless of the outcome, parts of Youngkin’s agenda will likely be destined for failure in the state Senate, which is narrowly controlled by Democrats.
In his victory speech, Youngkin pledged to fire the current parole board, increase law enforcement funding, slash taxes, raise teacher pay and expand school choice. He has also said he’ll ban critical race theory in schools, even though Democrats say it’s not in the curriculum.
In a statement, Gov. Ralph Northam said he spoke with Youngkin to congratulate him. Northam said the two 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,” Northam said. “We have made Virginia a more welcoming, open, and inclusive Commonwealth. Virginians expect this critical work to continue.”