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Virginia Republicans almost completely erased Democrats’ stronghold in the Commonwealth on Tuesday night. GOP candidates swept the Governor’s mansion along with Lt. Governor’s and Attorney General’s offices. At the same time, the party took back control of the House of Delegates. It was a devastating defeat for Democrats, setting back decades of gains the Democratic Party made.
Virginia voters outright rejected a Democratic ticket led by former Governor Terry McAuliffe. McAuliffe, who was hoping to reclaim the post after holding it from 2014-2018, suffered the worst defeat for a Democrat statewide since 2009. He became the democratic nominee over the summer after a late entry to the race. A Democratic Party insider, McAuliffe leveraged his connections and money to defeat two Black women already in the race for almost a year before him.
Virginia’s Governor-elect, Glen Youngkin, ran on a platform of emboldening parents fighting against school boards, pushing narratives about election security and combatting the Critical Race Theory that’s not being taught in schools. Youngkin will replace current governor Ralph Northam when he takes the oath of office in January.
Democrats grapple with disappointing defeat while Republicans celebrate victory
Youngkin’s bid was bolstered by disappointment in Democrats’ handling of the pandemic. That, and attempts by the McAuliffe campaign and others to tie Youngkin to white supremacist groups. One such attempt including having anti-Trump Republicans from the Lincoln Project stand in front of a Youngkin campaign bus with tiki torches.
The state did elect the first woman, woman of color and Black Republican in a statewide election. Winsome Sears, a former state legislator, became Lieutenant Governor-elect. As a candidate, Sears pledged to uplift Black Virginians while simultaneously pledging to combat criminal justice gains made by Democrats.
Now, as Democrats grapple with a disappointing defeat, Republicans look ahead emboldened at the 2022 midterms.
In an increasingly purple state, it’s not clear whether Youngkin will govern from a moderate or hard-right position.
Governors in Virginia can only serve one, four year term at a time. Youngkin will not be able to run for re-election when his term ends in 2025.