VIRGINIA, USA — Republican Glenn Youngkin will be sworn in as Virginia’s 74th governor on Jan. 15, succeeding Democrat Ralph Northam, who has been in the role since January 2018.
Youngkin, 54, defeated Democrat Terry McAuliffe -- who served as governor from 2014 to 2018 -- 51% to 49%. The political newcomer’s win was touted as a Democratic rebuff in the Commonwealth, which has trended blue over the past several elections. President Joe Biden won the state by 10 percentage points in 2020 against former President Donald Trump.
The former business executive campaigned on a platform of cutting living costs, reinvigorating job growth and community safety, and investing in education.
“Our basic philosophy of low taxes and great schools and safe communities and the best jobs, that's not a party-based philosophy. That's a Virginia-based philosophy,” he said.
During the campaign, Youngkin nicknamed himself the “education governor.” His emphasis on giving parents a voice in curriculum choices, which garnered national attention for the campaign, particularly resonated with Loudoun County voters.
“We just feel so much hope," Loudoun County parent Laurie Avila said at a ‘thank you rally’ Youngkin held following the election. "We were a first-class education system and I think we’re going to get that back under his leadership.”
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The governor-elect also has not shied away from sharing his own opinions on what should, and should not, be taught in Virginia schools.
“We're going to teach all history, we're going to make sure that Virginia's kids understand where we've come from,” Youngkin said during a sit-down interview with WUSA9 in December. “But we're also going to make sure that our children aren't being told to view everything through a lens of race … We're going to make sure that we don't have a political agenda in our schools.”
Youngkin, who has said he’s vaccinated, has made it clear he intends to repeal Northam's vaccine mandate for state employees on day one of his reign, and has said he would rescind mask mandates in K-12 schools. He also says he intends to challenge President Biden’s vaccine mandate for health care workers.
“I do not believe and therefore will not allow mandated vaccines broadly, but particularly in state government,” he told WUSA9. “I will rescind the executive order that has mandated vaccines and mask-wearing, although I'm a big fan of getting the vaccine and, and oh, by the way, mask-wearing matters … [These] are individual decisions; not something that a government should mandate.”
The new governor has not made many friends among environmentalists leading up to his inauguration, vowing to withdraw the commonwealth from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and nominating lobbyist Andrew Wheeler for Secretary of Natural Resources.
"This is a guy that presided over 1,000 people leaving the EPA [and] had conflicts of interest,” Rep. Don Beyer, D-Va., said. “He was responsible for helping to undo something like 148 different environmental regulations that were in place.”
RELATED: Virginia attorney general: Governor-elect can't pull out of carbon-reduction initiative through executive order
Youngkin will be joined by Lt. Gov. Winsome Sears and Attorney General Jason Miyares, as the first Republicans sworn in since 2009.
Before his foray into politics, Youngkin spent 25 years with The Carlyle Group, a private-equity firm based in D.C. He served as CEO from 2018-2020, before stepping down in September 2020 and announcing his candidacy for Virginia governor in January; he secured the Republican party’s nomination in May.
Youngkin spent his entire childhood in Virginia, moving from Richmond to Virginia Beach in his teens. He graduated from Virginia’s oldest private school, Norfolk Academy, in 1985. He double-majored in managerial studies and mechanical engineering during his undergrad years at Rice University and earned an MBA from Harvard in 1994.
Youngkin and his wife, Suzanne, have four children, whom they raised in northern Virginia. He has served on the boards of several nonprofits, including Virginia Ready Initiative – which he founded with his wife -- Virginia Tech’s Innovation Campus Advisory Board, the Museum of the Bible, and the Meadowkirk Retreat Center.
WATCH: Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin's victory speech.
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