Glenn Youngkin, a political newcomer who campaigned as a conservative, Christian outsider, bested a field of seven candidates to emerge as Virginia Republicans’ nominee for governor, in a year when the GOP hopes to end a 12-year losing streak in statewide races.
Youngkin was the winner in Accomack and Northampton Counties as well, winning handily. Phil Snyder came in second in Accomack and Kirk Cox placed second in Northampton.
Youngkin defeated a hard-right contender in state Sen. Amanda Chase, who closely aligned herself with former President Donald Trump, as well as an establishment candidate, former House Speaker Kirk Cox, who had more than 30 years’ experience in government as well as the endorsements of former governors George Allen and Bob McDonnell.
In the sixth and final round of counting on Monday night, Youngkin passed the 50% threshold to clinch the nomination, and his closest remaining opponent, Pete Snynder, issued a tweet conceding: “I send my heartfelt congratulations to @glennyoungkin on a tremendous race + deserved win.”
The state party’s website showed Youngkin with around 55% of the vote as final ballots were being tallied late Monday night.
“I am prepared to lead, excited to serve and profoundly humbled by the trust the people have placed in me.,” Youngkin said on Twitter. “Virginians have made it clear that they are ready for a political outsider with proven business experience to bring real change in Richmond.”
In a statement late Monday, the Virginia Republican Party celebrated Youngkin’s nomination, calling him a “homegrown Virginian” who had “nothing handed to him.”
“From his life experiences, Glenn has developed the skills and character to lead Virginia with humility and courage,” party officials said. “He has the know-how to get Virginia moving again and rebuild it into the best place to live, work, and raise a family in America.”
Party Chairman Rich Anderson said Youngkin ran a “flawless campaign,” adding that he looked forward to throwing “the full force of the Republican Party of Virginia behind him in the coming months.”
More than 30,000 delegates cast ballots Saturday at what the Republican Party of Virginia is calling an “unassembled convention” to choose their nominees for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general.
With no candidate garnering a majority after the first round, the winner was determined in part by whom delegates listed as their second and third choices among the seven candidates vying for the spot.
Under the ranked-choice voting system implemented by the party, the votes of the last-place candidate, former Roanoke Sheriff Octavia Johnson, were redistributed to the six remaining candidates based on whom those delegates designated as their second choice.
The process was repeated in subsequent rounds until Youngkin gained the majority.
Youngkin, a former CEO of The Carlyle Group investment firm, is making his first run for public office. He lent his campaign more than $5 million and spent more than any other candidate through March 31, according to data from the Virginia Public Access Project. He campaigned as a “conservative Christian outsider” and highlighted his business experience.
The party began counting ballots in the attorney general race on Sunday. Delegate Jason Miyares won a close race after three rounds of balloting over hard-right candidate Chuck Smith.
Smith’s surprisingly strong showing was interpreted by some as a good sign for Chase, a hard-right gubernatorial candidate who has been censured in the General Assembly in a bipartisan vote and is most closely associated with former President Donald Trump.
Virginia is the only state with an open-seat gubernatorial contest this year; the race is being closely scrutinized as an early signal of each party’s political strength heading into the 2022 congressional elections.
Republicans have not won a statewide race in Virginia since 2009. But Republicans have some hope of ending their drought this year; since 1973, only once has the party controlling the White House gone on to win the governor’s race in Virginia the next year.
The convention was open to Virginia voters who pre-registered as delegates. People who had voted in past Democratic primaries were allowed to participate if they renounced their earlier Democratic votes and promised to support the Republican nominees in November.
“To the love of my life, my amazing wife of nearly 27 years, Suzanne – I am eternally grateful for your support. It has been incredible to have her, our four children and our extended family alongside me on this journey,” added Youngkin in his statement. “Lastly, a word of heartfelt thanks to all of the extraordinary people who worked so hard for this win. Your dedication and support means more than you will ever know.”