Youngkin wins Virginia governor’s race, signaling problems for Democrats –

Glenn Youngkin won the Virginia governor’s race early on Wednesday, leveraging the Culture War fights on schools and the race to unite former President Donald Trump’s staunchest supporters with enough suburban voters to become the first Republican to win a statewide office here in 12 years.

Youngkin’s loss, 54, to Democrat Terry McAuliffe marked a brutal turnaround in a state that has moved to the left over the past decade and was captured by President Joe Biden last year with a 10 point margin. This is sure to add to concern among Democrats over their grip on political power as they approach the midterms of next year, when the party’s slim majority in Congress could be erased.

“It’s the spirit of Virginia coming together like never before,” Youngkin told enthusiastic supporters in the ballroom of a hotel in Chantilly, about 25 miles west of Washington.

AC / DC’s “Thunderstruck” sounded over the speakers as the race was called after midnight. Youngkin has vowed to rule not only from the state capital, but with “a vision where the power of the Virginians, the power that has historically resided in the marble halls of Richmond is displayed, displayed in the kitchen tables that are held together with the bond and spirit of freedom and liberty.

In addition to Virginia’s stinging defeat for Democrats, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy was in a tight fight as he sought to become the first Democratic governor to be re-elected in the state in more than four decades. Biden gained more than 15 points there in 2020. The election was the first major test of voter sentiment since Biden took office, and the results were a stark warning sign.

His administration has been rocked in recent months by the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, lingering challenges emerging from the pandemic, and a risky legislative agenda on Capitol Hill. Youngkin, a political neophyte, was able to take advantage of the apparent apathy of leading Democratic voters tired from years of elections considered unavoidable. He successfully portrayed McAuliffe, a former governor of Virginia, chairman of the Democratic National Committee and close friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton, as part of an elite class of politicians. It also caught a late stumble from McAuliffe, who, during a debate, suggested that parents should have a minimal role in curriculum development.

Perhaps most importantly, Youngkin prevailed in a task that has baffled dozens of Republicans before him: attracting the Trump base while attracting suburban voters who were repelled by the former president’s divisive behavior.

During the campaign, Youngkin declared his support for “electoral integrity,” a nod to Trump’s lie that the 2020 presidential election was stolen, while also focusing on education and pro-business policies. He never campaigned in person with Trump, successfully defying McAuliffe’s efforts. to present him as a clone of the former president.

This approach could provide a model for Republicans competing in future races that feature a significant number of Democratic or Independent voters. Elsewhere in the country on Tuesday, mayoral competitions helped shape the leadership of some of the country’s largest cities. Former Democratic police captain Eric Adams claimed victory in New York, and voters in Boston elected city councilor Michelle Wu, the first woman mayor of Asian American descent.

Cincinnati has its first Asian American mayor, Aftab Pureval. Voters in Minneapolis rejected a voting initiative that sought to reshuffle police in their city, where George Floyd was killed by a white cop on Memorial Day 2020, sparking the biggest wave of racial injustice protests in generations .

The initiative would have replaced the police force with a public security ministry tasked with adopting a “comprehensive public health” approach to policing. the governor’s race in Virginia, a state with large swathes of suburban college-educated voters who are increasingly influential in controlling Congress and the White House.

Former Carlyle Group co-CEO with a lanky 6-inch-6-inch build that made him a reserve forward for the Rice University basketball team, Youngkin invested much of his personal fortune in a campaign that spent over $ 59 million. Preferring fleece vests, Youngkin sought to cut the image of an awesome suburban dad.

Youngkin confidently ran on a conservative platform. He opposed a major clean energy mandate the state adopted two years ago and opposed abortion in most circumstances. He also supported a business-friendly approach to the state’s economy, opposed mask and vaccine mandates, pledged to expand Virginia’s limited charter schools, and ban critical theory of race, an academic framework that focuses on the idea that racism is systemic in nation’s institutions and that they function to maintain white dominance. In recent months, it has become a catch-all political buzzword for teaching in schools about race and American history.

McAuliffe tried to energize the Democratic base by pushing abortion forward, denouncing a new Texas law that broadly banned the procedure and warning that Youngkin would seek to implement similar restrictions. Youngkin didn’t discuss abortion much in public, and a liberal activist filmed him saying the issue couldn’t help him during the campaign. He said an election victory would allow the party to “start to go on the offensive” on the issue.

As McAuliffe relied on the star power of a host of National Democrats, including former President Barack Obama and ex-Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, Youngkin largely campaigned alone, focusing on issues which he considered important to the Virginians.

Youngkin has also proven to be perhaps the most effective in deflecting McAuliffe’s efforts to tie him to Trump and the former president’s divisive political style. Polls showed the race was tightening after McAuliffe said in a debate in late September that he didn’t think “parents should tell schools what they should teach.”

This prompted Youngkin to run hundreds of TV commercials about the declaration and to focus on his own promises to make school curricula less “anti-American” and to revise policies on transgender students and school toilets. When asked about the issues more generally, voters saw the economy as most important, according to AP VoteCast, a statewide survey.

Some 34% of voters in Virginia ranked the economy as their No.1 priority, with 17% saying COVID-19 and 14% choosing education. These issues have overtaken healthcare, climate change, racism and abortion in the survey.

The race took a particularly bitter turn last week, when Youngkin ran an ad featuring a mother and a GOP activist who eight years ago led an effort to ban “Beloved,” the novel. Black Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison’s Pulitzer Prize Winner, Classrooms. McAuliffe accused Youngkin of opening a “racist dog whistle,” but Youngkin said Virginia’s parents knew what was really at stake – as did families across the country.

It was a nod to how tapping into parental activism might work for the GOP next year and in future election cycles. “America is watching Virginia,” Youngkin said during argument. “And America needs us to vote for them too. “

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Youngkin wins Virginia governor’s race, signaling problems for Democrats –

Hank Gilbert