Democrats are still reeling from their brutal defeat that took place in Virginia on Tuesday night when Republican Glenn Youngkin handily took down the leftwing Terry McAuliffe in the state’s gubernatorial race. All eyes in this country are now on Youngkin and on how the way he won can be replicated for the campaigns of other Republicans all over the country going into next year’s midterm elections.
CBS News reported that Youngkin was born and raised in Richmond and Virginia Beach, and he went on to get an engineering degree from Rice University and an MBA from Harvard Business School before moving back to Virginia. The 54-year-old has been married to his wife Jane for 26 years, and they have four children together.
Youngkin spent most of his business career at the Washington-based Carlyle Group investment firm, where he worked his way all the way up to co-CEO before he retired late last year. He’s worth an estimated $440 million, and he’s known to have donated $20 million to his own gubernatorial campaign.
During his campaign, Youngkin maintained a focus on economic and culture war issues in a way that appealed to suburban voters. McAuliffe made this even easier for Youngkin when during a debate back in September, he said that he “think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.” Youngkin immediately honed in on this and pledged to ban critical race theory from Virginia schools.
“If you had any doubt — any doubt whatsoever — about Terry McAuliffe’s principles, he laid them bare last week when he said, he said parents do not have a right to be involved in their kid’s education,” Youngkin said last month, according to CNN.
“Together, together, we will change the trajectory of this commonwealth,” Youngkin said in his victory speech on Tuesday night. “And friends, we are going to start that transformation on day one. There is no time to waste. Our kids can’t wait, we work in real-people time, not government time. So on day one, we’re going to work. We’re going to restore excellence in our schools.”
Most notably, Youngkin managed to garner the support of loyal Donald Trump voters while also winning over suburban voters who had been turned off by the former president. Trump endorsed Youngkin during the race, calling him a “fantastic guy.” While Youngkin said that he was “honored” to get endorsed by Trump, he also never campaigned with him in person and effectively refrained from ever mentioning him in the final weeks of the race. This made it so that he turned off neither Trump loyalists nor voters who aren’t fans of the ex-president.
In a nod to Trump’s claim that the 2020 election was stolen, Youngkin expressed his support for “election integrity,” letting conservative voters know that he will focus on laws that support that when he takes office. This eased the minds of Trump voters who may otherwise have feared that Youngkin was someone who would cave to the left when it came to election integrity.
Another effective tactic used by Youngkin was to portray himself as a political outsider.
“For too long we have been told there is only one way to do things in Richmond,” Youngkin said in one of his campaign ads. “I’m Glenn Youngkin. I’m not a politician. … It’s a new day here in Virginia. And the future belongs to us, not them.”
He then painted his opponent McAuliffe as a member of the liberal political elite, pointing out that he is a former Governor, ex-Democratic National Committee chair, and a close friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton. The fact that Democrat elites like Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and Kamala Harris rushed to Virginia to desperately campaign for McAuliffe only added to his image as a career politician who is out of touch with the needs of average middle-class Americans.
Democrats are devastated by Youngkin’s win because they saw this gubernatorial race as a bellwether for the 2022 midterm elections. Likewise, Republicans see his victory as a sign that a red wave is coming, and they will likely view his campaign as a roadmap for other members of the GOP hoping to win both congressional and statewide elections in 2022.
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