Katharine DeRosa, News Editor
Republican Glenn Youngkin is projected to win the Virginia gubernatorial election, after a close race against former governor and Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe.
Youngkin took the stage at his election night party in Chantilly, Virginia around 1:04 a.m. The Associated Press called the race in his favor at 12:37 a.m. on Wednesday.
“Alrighty Virginia,” Youngkin said. “We won this thing.”
Youngkin garnered 50.97% of the votes, while McAuliffe secured 48.34% of the votes, according to the Virginia Public Access Project, as of 1:59 a.m. on Wednesday morning. His other opponent, Liberation Party candidate Princess Blanding, received 0.69% of the votes. McAuliffe previously served as Virginia governor from 2014 to 2018. Blanding is the sister of VCU alumnus Marcus-David Peters, who was shot and killed by police while experiencing a mental health crisis on Interstate 95 in 2018.
Youngkin is endorsed by former President Donald Trump and has never held public office before, according to Ballotpedia. During his victory speech, he said his win is a “defining moment” in Virginia.
“Together we will change the trajectory of this commonwealth,” Youngkin said in his victory speech early Wednesday morning.
Youngkin’s “day one” plan as highlighted on his website includes cutting taxes, expanding funding for the police, banning critical race theory in public schools and investing in transportation infrastructure.
“There is no time to waste,” Youngkin said. “We work in real people time, not government time.”
Critical race theory is not currently being taught in Loudoun County Public Schools, located in Northern Virginia, according to reporting from The Loudoun Times-Mirror.
Critical race theory is the idea that racism is “inherent” in United States social, economic and political institutions, according to Encyclopedia Britannica. These systems maintain current unequal social hierarchies between white people and people of color, according to Britannica.
During his victory speech, Youngkin said he plans to “restore excellence in schools” by creating charter schools and allowing parents to select which public schools their children attend.
Youngkin raised more than $57 million for his campaign, as of Oct. 21, according to the Virginia Public Access Project. Youngkin himself is the top donor to his campaign, having contributed $20 million. The Republican Governors Association and the Republican Party of Virginia fall behind Youngkin with donations, contributing $10.7 million and $1.6 million, respectively.
Youngkin outraised McAuliffe by over $360,000. Blanding has raised $34,771 as of Oct. 21, according to VPAP.
VCU political science professor Alex Keena referred to a win by Youngkin as a “complete shift.” He said Republican voters may see Youngkin as “untainted” by politics.
“There’s been some promises and a lot of focus on anger about teaching kids racism in schools,” Keena said. “Critical race theory isn’t even taught in public education in Virginia. It’s sort of just an imaginary thing that are getting people on the right really motivated.”
Virginia’s political landscape will change under Youngkin, Keena said, even if Democrats maintain control of other local offices.
“So it’s hard to imagine what exactly he would do — he’s never actually run for office before,” Keena said. “That might be part of the appeal.”
Youngkin previously worked at The Carlyle Group, which is a private equity firm, according to his website. He also holds a MBA from Harvard University.
Youngkin’s plans for cutting taxes include eliminating Virginia’s grocery tax, which is currently at 2.5%, according to the Virginia tax website.
After he was declared the projected winner of the governor’s race, Youngkin said he would declare the “largest tax refund in Virginia history.”
The current standard deduction in Virginia, of the specific dollar amount that reduces someone’s taxable income, differs between those who are married and those who are single. Those who are single or file separately from their spouse receive a $4,500 standard deduction, while those who are married and file with their spouse receive a $9,000 standard deduction, according to the Virginia tax website.
Youngkin said he plans to double the standard deduction from taxes for “everyone” in Virginia.
Trump also claimed fraud ahead of the election in his statement, similarly to how he claimed the presence of voter fraud during the 2020 presidential election. Trump lost to a record-breaking turnout for President Joe Biden, who garnered over 81 million votes, according to The Associated Press.
Youngkin’s website has a section where his supporters can sign up to become poll watchers and join the “election integrity task force.”
“As governor, Glenn will ensure every legal vote is counted quickly and accurately,” according to his website.
Toward the end of his victory speech, Youngkin referenced the founding fathers while saying his campaign reflected “the spirit of Virginia.”
“My fellow Virginians, this is a moment,” Youngkin said. “Together we can build a new day.”