Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) won the Virginia Democrat primary in a blowout Tuesday and will now face off against Republican Glenn Youngkin in the race to replace Gov. Ralph Northam (D), who is term-limited and cannot seek reelection this year.
The Associated Press called the race soon after polls closed at 7:00 p.m. local time.
McAuliffe, who was narrowly elected as governor of the state in 2013, decisively beat out four other candidates, three of whom were racial minorities, including two who were each hoping to become the first black woman governor as well as current Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D).
McAuliffe spoke to supporters in a victory speech Tuesday night, announcing, “What a great night for Virginia! Are you ready to light it up?”
“I want to thank you,” he continued. “All of the supporters who are in this room and all of the people who came out across this commonwealth in Virginia who worked day in and day out to help us have this huge win tonight, this would not have been possible. Thank you.”
McAuliffe was accompanied on stage by Northam, who endorsed the newly elected nominee despite McAuliffe calling for Northam’s resignation after the governor’s blackface scandal in 2019.
McAuliffe, a longtime Clinton ally and former Democratic National Committee chair, is seen as a formidable opponent fundraising-wise, though Youngkin, a wealthy businessman and former CEO of the Carlyle Group, demonstrated competitive fundraising abilities — with an added ability to self-fund — during the Republican nomination process.
Nevertheless, Youngkin faces the challenge of competing as the Republican candidate at the top of the ballot in a state that has shifted leftward in recent years, with no Republican candidate winning a statewide election in more than a decade. Aside from McAuliffe in 2013, however, the party in control in the White House has not been the party to win in Virginia’s off-year gubernatorial election since the 1970s, a statistic that bodes well for Youngkin.
Youngkin said in a statement following McAuliffe’s win, “Get ready, because Terry McAuliffe will default to the same political games he’s played his entire life.”
“I’m confident that voters will not choose a recycled, 40-year political insider and career politician who pretends to be a businessman, who talks big but doesn’t deliver, and who failed Virginians the first time he was governor,” he added.
The Republican Governors Association (RGA) called McAuliffe a “career politician and establishment insider” in its own statement.
“The contrast between career politician and establishment insider Terry McAuliffe and successful businessman and political outsider Glenn Youngkin is stark,” RGA Executive Director Dave Rexrode said. “The stench of corruption follows McAuliffe wherever he goes, and voters across the Commonwealth are looking for fresh leadership after nearly a decade of failures from the McAuliffe-Northam regime.”
Down the ballot, incumbent Attorney General Mark Herring defeated state Del. Jay Jones (D-Norfolk) in a blow to Democrats who were hoping to see a more racially diverse ticket. Their diversity desires will be met only by one candidate in the three statewide races, state Del. Hala Ayala (D-Prince William), a Hispanic American who got the nod for lieutenant governor.
On the Republicans’ side, former state Del. Winsome Sears, a black woman from Jamaica, won the nomination for lieutenant governor, while state Del. Jason Miyares (R-Virginia Beach), a Cuban American, won for attorney general.
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