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by Brandon Jarvis

Virginia elected a new governor Tuesday after months of political campaigning in Virginia. The Associated Press called the race for Republican nominee Glenn Youngkin at 12:37 a.m. Wednesday morning, providing Republicans with their first statewide win since 2009. 

“Alrighty Virginia we won this thing,” Youngkin yelled into the microphone while addressing a crowd of supporters after being declared the winner. “We stand here this morning at this defining moment, a defining moment that yes, started with two people on a walk, and a defining moment that is now millions of Virginians walking together.” 

Governor-elect Youngkin will be sworn to serve as the next governor in January. He has no prior political experience after working up the ranks of a private equity firm to eventually become the co-CEO of The Carlyle Group.

After Virginia voted for Joe Biden by 10 points just 12 months ago, many people believed this was a safe race for Democrats. But polling towards the end of the race showed a tightening dynamic, with Youngkin even leading in some. 

Youngkin prioritized banning Critical Race Theory and giving parents more control within public schools in the final months of his campaign. Former Governor Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic nominee, prioritized defining Youngkin as a Donald Trump-Republican. 

McAuliffe brought the big names in the final weeks to try and drive Democratic turnout. Youngkin largely campaigned on his own with down-ballot tickets drawing large crowds across the commonwealth. 

McAuliffe was trying to defy historical traditions in Virginia for the second time by winning the Executive Mansion in Virginia while a Democrat is in the White House. He narrowly defeated Ken Cuccinelli in 2013 the year after Barack Obama won reelection to a second term. 

Prior to that, Virginians elected a governor opposite of the President’s party for decades. 

In the final days of the Youngkin campaign, Youngkin enjoyed momentum with a 52-stop bus tour across the commonwealth. The momentum wasn’t always there, however. He stumbled out the gate after winning the nomination in May and continued to stumble throughout the summer. 

The governor-elect was hit with a blow when former President Donald Trump announced his endorsement of Youngkin the morning after he earned the nomination. McAuliffe and Democrats immediately seized on the endorsement and have not let it go seeing as Joe Biden won the commonwealth by 10 points last year. Youngkin at the time said he was honored to receive the endorsement. “I’m totally honored and I appreciate it this morning,” Youngkin said after Trump’s endorsement. “And it’s reflective of the fact that we’ve received a lot of endorsements, and those endorsements reflect the Republican Party coming together around an outsider.”

Youngkin was able to eventually figure out how to hold Trump at a distance in his campaign to unite Virginia behind mostly large ideals, not specific policy. 

“We have a defining moment in front of us,” Youngkin told a crowd in Chesterfield Monday. “To redirect the trajectory of this great commonwealth. A moment where we get to come together and do something spectacular.” 

It took months for Youngkin to put forth any sort of policy proposals after earning the nomination. He instead has run a campaign on inspiring voters to support his vision of a safer Virginia where Critical Race Theory is banned and the grocery tax is eliminated. The messaging was successful, according to Tuesday night’s results.

Youngkin has prioritized education, but specifically, his focus has been on giving parents more control over the curriculum being taught in schools. The key topic of his education platform since this race began was Critical Race Theory (CRT) and ensuring it is never taught in Virginia schools. 

CRT is an academic approach that is centered around the idea that the United States was built on systemic racism. In general, CRT aims to show that racism is the result of complex, changing, and often subtle social and institutional dynamics, instead of explicit and intentional prejudices. 

Republicans across the country assert that CRT is being implemented into school curriculums, but school districts in Virginia deny that claim.

Republicans activists across Virginia, however, have made this their top issue. After he tells his supporters at any event of his intention to ban CRT on day one, Youngkin has to pause for several seconds as the crowd cheers and claps in a standing ovation — every time. 

During his victory speech Wednesday morning, Youngkin promised to introduce school choice options, eliminate the grocery tax, suspend a hike in the gas tax, double the standard deduction, cut taxes on the retirement income of veterans, and replace the entire parole board on day one.

The results on Tuesday are resounding. “The red wave is here! Congratulations to Republicans Glenn Youngkin, Winsome Sears, and Jason Miyares on their incredible campaigns and hard fought victories,” said Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel. “This Republican sweep in Virginia is a resounding rebuke of the failed policies of Joe Biden and the Democrats. Virginians – and Americans across the country – are fed up with Biden’s divisive policies, failed leadership, and a Democrat agenda hurting working families. A Republican wave is coming in 2022, and Virginia is just the start.” 

McAuliffe made no immediate concession Tuesday night or Wednesday morning. His campaign did not respond to questions prior to this article being published. “Folks, not everything is counted and we’re still waiting for a lot of votes to come in,” he tweeted at 10:36 p.m. “And we want to ensure every Virginians’ voice is heard.”

In addition to a win from Youngkin, Republicans won the lieutenant governor and attorney general races. Additionally, they made gains in the House of delegates to erase a 10-seat Democratic majority making and taking the 52-48 majority. The Senate, which will be presided over by the lieutenant governor-elect Winsome Sears, who can cast tie-breaking votes in the chamber that will have a partisan makeup of 21 Democrats to 19 Republicans until 2023.

This is a developing story.

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By vascope