Glenn Youngkin, a former CEO of the Carlyle Group, secured the Republican nomination for this year’s Virginia governor’s race Monday night, beating out six other candidates in a ranked-choice voting process that required six rounds of ballot-counting.
Youngkin took the lead in earlier rounds, but because the ranked-choice method required a candidate to reach 50 percent of the vote, eliminating every candidate up until the final round — in which Youngkin faced off with runner-up Pete Snyder — was necessary before Youngkin was able to clinch a victory.
The Republican Party of Virginia’s (RPV) nominating process was unprecedented this year, occurring as an “unassembled” convention on Saturday at polling locations across the state to determine the Republican governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general nominees. The votes were weighted based on number of ballots cast at localities and how those localities voted in 2020. About 30,000 ballots were cast this year.
Youngkin, received 55 percent of the weighted vote to Snyder’s 45 percent, according to the Virginia Public Access Project, which updated data from the RPV into reader-friendly infographics throughout the tabulation process.
The former CEO said in a statement after his victory became clear that he was “prepared to lead, excited to serve and profoundly humbled by the trust the people” had placed in him. “Virginians have made it clear that they are ready for a political outsider with a proven business experience to bring real change in Richmond,” Youngkin wrote:
I am prepared to lead, excited to serve and profoundly humbled by the trust the people have placed in me. Virginians have made it clear that they are ready for a political outsider with proven business experience to bring real change in Richmond.
— Glenn Youngkin (@GlennYoungkin) May 11, 2021
Youngkin, a native Virginian, attended Harvard Business School and spent 25 years at Carlyle before retiring in September to run for office, marketing himself throughout much of his campaign as an “outsider” given he has never held political office.
Criticism he faced during his campaign involved his time at the private equity firm. Some of the attacks were anonymous and unfounded, while others zoned in on a letter Youngkin wrote with his co-CEO of Carlyle last year telling employees the corporation would match donations to three groups, including the far-left Southern Poverty Law Center, in light of the George Floyd riots and protests. Youngkin responded that he personally was “totally opposed” to the group and had never donated to it, highlighting his donation record, which shows he has given hundreds of thousands to Republican candidates and groups over the years.
While polling carried little significance for the state party’s convention structure, during the final week of the race, Youngkin’s momentum appeared strong based on high-energy events with relatively large crowds and a last-minute endorsement from his friend Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). As for fundraising, both Youngkin and the second-place candidate, Snyder, far outraised the other candidates, due in large part to their self-funding abilities.
Snyder also ran as a political outsider, launching a “conservative outlaw” tour toward the end of his campaign and snagging his own high-profile endorsements from former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, a close ally of former President Donald Trump, and several officials who worked on immigration policy for Trump, including Ken Cuccinelli, Mark Morgan, Thomas Homan, and Tony Pham.
Snyder conceded Monday evening, saying in a statement, “While we certainly would have preferred a win tonight, I want to congratulate Glenn Youngkin, his family and his team on a tremendous race and a deserved win. He and the entire Republican ticket will have my full support.”
Youngkin will now face the presumed Democrat candidate, former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), in November, though the party will formally determine its candidate during a primary next month. McAuliffe, a longtime Clinton ally and former Democratic National Committee chair, is the clear frontrunner among five Democrat contenders because of his name recognition and fundraising abilities.
Candidates will fight for an open governor’s seat as current Gov. Ralph Northam (D) is term-limited and unable to run for reelection. Youngkin will have to overcome the challenge of being a Republican candidate in a state where his party has struggled for representation — the Old Dominion has shifted from less purple to more blue in recent years and its Republicans have not won a statewide election in a decade.
Youngkin told Breitbart News in an interview in April that he anticipates being able to swing some voters in Northern Virginia, the most densely populous and blue region of the state, with issues including restoring in-person learning for school-aged children and preserving the state’s Right to Work protection.
“Mathematically, we can win a reasonable chunk of Northern Virginia back,” Youngkin said during the interview. “We don’t have to win fully Northern Virginia, 51 percent. We just have to get her back from the 70–30 to close to 60–40, and then with the strength that we have across our red counties, and, oh, by the way, the strength we’re seeing in Hampton Roads and suburban Richmond, we’re going to win this November.”
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