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Virginia turns red: Youngkin declared winner in bellwether governor's race as GOP pulls off sweep

Republican Winsome Sears was elected the first female African-American lieutenant governor and Republican Jason Miyares is set to become the state's first Latino attorney general

Published: November 2, 2021 7:36pm

Updated: November 3, 2021 10:27am

Businessman Glenn Youngkin was declared the winner early Wednesday morning in Virginia's closely watched gubernatorial race, defeating former Gov. Terry McAuliffe in an election widely viewed as a bellwether for the Democrats' majority in Washington.

In his victory speech, Youngkin pledged to "change the trajectory of this commonwealth" and start that transformation "on day one." 

"There is no time to waste — we work in real time, not government time,” he said. 

He described his election as a movement.

"A campaign that came from nowhere but we were joined by neighbors and friends of all races, and all religions, of all ages, of all political ideologies, and it turned into a movement,” he said.

Youngkin touched upon education in the speech, which was a top issue on the minds of voters in the state after the candidates sparred on Critical Race Theory and the role of parents in the design of the curriculum in schools. 

“We are going to introduce choice in our public school system," he said while addressing his supporters in Chantilly, Va. in the early hours of Wednesday.

"Friends, we’re going to embrace our parents, not ignore them. We’re going to press forward with a curriculum that includes listening to parents’ input,” he added.

Youngkin also reiterated that he plans to eliminate the grocery tax and suspend the recent gas tax hike for one-year.

Republicans also were projected to win the attorney general and lieutenant governor races and become the first Hispanic and African Americans to capture the offices, according to projections by multiple TV networks.

Youngkin, the former Carlyle Group CEO, performed extremely well with suburban, independent and Trump voters, according to exit polls. McAuliffe saw a drop off in support from minorities and young voters key to President Joe Biden's victory a year ago.

McAuliffe addressed his supporters earlier Tuesday evening and implored them to keep counting the votes. 

"I want to thank all of you for what you have meant to us," he said. "Let's go on forward." 

A few hours later, CNN, Fox News and NBC News were among those to call the race for Youngkin and the GOP slate of candidates.

The majority of Virginia voters indicated that they disapproved of President Biden's job performance, according to CNN exit polling.

CNN also found that "a narrow majority of voters say the Democratic Party is too liberal overall, while fewer call the Republican Party too conservative."

Former President Donald Trump, who held a tele-rally in support of Youngkin on the eve of Election Day, released a statement on Tuesday evening praising the outcome Virginia.

"It is looking like Terry McAuliffe's campaign against a certain person named 'Trump' has very much helped Glenn Youngkin," Trump said in the statement. "All McAuliffe did was talk Trump, Trump, Trump and he lost! What does that tell you, Fake News?

"I guess people running for office as Democrats won't be doing that too much longer. I didn't even have to go rally for Youngkin, because McAuliffe did it for me. Thank you to the MAGA voters for turning out big!" 

Winsome Sears, a Jamaican immigrant and former Marine, was elected the first female African-American lieutenant governor, and Republican Jason Miyares is the projected winner of the Virginia attorney general race, becoming the state's first Latino to hold that office.

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