WILL WEISSERT and SARAH RANKIN
RICHMOND, VA (AP) – Glenn Youngkin won the Virginia governor’s race early Wednesday, engaging in a culture war over schools and races to rally former President Donald Trump’s ardent supporters with enough suburban voters to become the first Republican. who got a position on the staff for a dozen years.
54-year-old Youngkin’s defeat of Democrat Terry McAuliffe marked a sharp turn in the state that has shifted to the left over the past decade, with President Joe Biden scoring 10 points in 2020. Democrat Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey virtually stalled in his bid to win re-election in the state, where Biden won with 15 points.
The election marked the first major test of voters’ sentiment since Biden took office and caused growing disappointment. They also stressed that after Trump’s departure, Democrats cannot focus their messages on countering him. The results ultimately pointed to a potentially painful year for Democrats as they try to maintain a slim majority in Congress.
The mood of the Republicans was festive.
“This is the spirit of Virginia, coming together like never before,” Youngkin said, welcoming supporters to the ballroom of a hotel in Chantilly, about 25 miles west of Washington. AC / DC’s “Thunderstruck” thundered over the speakers as the race was announced after midnight.
Youngkin pledged to lead not only from the state capital, but with “a vision in which the power of the Virginians, the power historically in the marble halls of Richmond, extends, extends to kitchen tables that are held together with bonds and the spirit of freedom and freedom.”
A neophyte in politics, Yangkin was able to take advantage of the apparent apathy of mainstream Democratic voters, weary of years of elections deemed essential to victory. He successfully portrayed McAuliffe, the former governor of Virginia, chairman of the Democratic National Committee and a close friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton, as a member of an elite class of politicians. He also seized on a late-stage mistake made by McAuliffe, who, during a debate speech, offered parents a minimal role in shaping school curricula.
Perhaps most importantly, Yangkin has succeeded in a task that has puzzled many Republicans: attracting Trump’s base, as well as reaching out to suburban voters who are turned off by the former president’s divisive behavior.
During the campaign, Youngkin pledged his support for “election integrity,” nodding at Trump’s lies that the 2020 presidential election was stolen, and also focused on education and business-friendly politics. He never campaigned personally with Trump, successfully challenging McAuliffe’s attempt to portray him as a clone of the former president.
Such an approach could serve as a model for Republicans participating in future races involving significant numbers of Democrats or independent voters.
Elsewhere on Tuesday, mayoral contests helped shape the leadership of some of the country’s largest cities. Democratic former police captain Eric Adams won New York, and Boston voters elected City Councilor Michelle Wu, the city’s first female mayor and Asian American. Cincinnati’s first Asian-born mayor, Aftab Pureval, will appear.
Minneapolis voters rejected a policing initiative to overhaul the police service in their city, where George Floyd was killed by a white police officer on Memorial Day 2020, sparking the largest wave of racial injustice protests in generations. The initiative would replace the police with the Department of Public Security tasked with applying a “comprehensive public health approach” to policing.
In the New Jersey governor’s race, incumbent Governor Murphy attempted to become the first Democrat to be reelected in 44 years. But Republican rival Jack Chiattarelli has shown surprisingly strong results, campaigning on issues such as taxes and countering the pandemic mask and vaccination orders. It was too early to announce the race as votes were still being counted.
But no other competition in this year-to-year election season has garnered the same level of national attention and money as the governor’s race in Virginia, a state with a wide range of college-educated commuter voters who increasingly influence control of Congress and government. The White house.
A former co-CEO of the 6’6 ” lanky Carlyle Group who once made him the reserve forward of the Rice University basketball team, Youngkin has invested a huge amount of his personal fortune in a campaign that has spent more than $ 59 million. With a preference for fleece vests, Youngkin sought to carve out the image of the good-natured country dad.
Youngkin confidently adhered to a conservative platform. He opposed the government’s basic clean energy law two years ago, and objected to abortion in most cases.
He also opposed demands for masks and vaccines, pledged to expand Virginia’s limited charter schools, and to outlaw critical theory of race – an academic framework that is rooted in the idea that racism is systemic in national institutions and that they act to maintain white dominance. … In recent months, it has become the universal political word for any teaching in schools about race and American history.
McAuliffe tried to revitalize the democratic base by emphasizing abortion, denouncing a new Texas law that largely outlawed the procedure, and warned that Youngkin would seek to impose similar restrictions.
Youngkin did not discuss abortion much in public, and a liberal activist caught him on tape saying the issue could not help him during the campaign. He said that winning the election would allow the party to “start insulting” the issue.
While McAuliffe harnessed the stellar power of a host of National Democrats, including former President Barack Obama and ex-Georgia governor candidate Stacy Abrams, Youngkin largely campaigned on his own, focusing on issues he said were important to the Virginians. …
Youngkin has also proven to be perhaps most successful in warding off McAuliffe’s attempts to link him to Trump and the former president’s divisive political style.
Polls have shown the race is tightening after McAuliffe said during a debate in late September that he believed “parents should not tell schools what they should teach.” This prompted Yangkin to launch hundreds of commercials for the announcement and focus on his own commitments to make school curricula less “anti-American” and to rethink policies on transgender students and school toilets.
The race took a particularly tough turn last week when Youngkin ran an ad featuring the mother and the GOP activist who eight years ago spearheaded an effort to ban the screening of Black Nobel laureate Toni Morrison’s novel The Beloved, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, in classrooms.
McAuliffe accused Yangkin of uncorking the “racist dog whistle,” but Yangkin said Virginia’s parents knew what was really at stake, and families across the country did the same. It was a hint of how the use of parenting might work for the GOP next year and in future electoral cycles.
“America is watching Virginia,” Yangkin said in his closing argument. “And America needs us to vote for them too.”
Associated Press contributors Ben Finley of Norfolk, Virginia, Hank Kurtz of Richmond, Alexandra Jaffe of McLean, and Jill Colvin of New York contributed to this report.