Political newcomer bests 6 rivals to set up likely fall race against Democrat Terry McAuliffe
♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com editor
RICHMOND (CFP) — Glenn Youngkin, a wealthy outsider making his first run for political office, has won the Republican nomination for Virginia governor, setting up what will likely be a high-spending and highly contested fall match-up with Democratic former governor Terry McAuliffe.
Youngkin secured a majority to clinch the nomination after six rounds of counting; the Republican Party of Virginia opted to use ranked-choice voting by more than 30,000 delegates who cast ballots during a statewide drive-thru convention Saturday.
Younkin won 55% of the weighted delegate vote to defeat his last remaining rival, Pete Snyder, a venture capitalist who was the GOP nominee for lieutenant governor in 2013.
“I am prepared to lead, excited to serve and profoundly humbled by the trust the people have placed in me,” Youngkin said on Twitter after Snyder conceded late Monday. “Virginians have made it clear that they are ready for a political outsider with proven business experience to bring real change in Richmond.”
State Senator Amanda Chase from Chesterfield County — who describes herself as “Trump in heels” and has been threatening to bolt the party to run as an independent — was eliminated in the round prior to Snyder. She has so far not publicly reacted or gave an indication of her future plans, although Trump endorsed Youngkin after results were announced.
In the race for lieutenant governor, former State Delegate Winsome Sears — the 2020 national chair of Black Americans to Re-Elect President Trump whose campaign posters and Twitter feed show her carrying an assault rifle — defeated five other candidates to win the party’s nod.
State Delegate Jason Miyares from Virginia Beach beat out three other candidates in the race to be the party’s nominee for attorney general. However, the second-place finisher in that contest, Chuck Smith, has requested a recount.
Youngkin, 54, who lives in Great Falls in the Washington, D.C. suburbs, was formerly the CEO of the Carlyle Group, a private equity firm. He loaned his campaign more than $5 million, which gave him a financial advantage over his intra-party rivals with more political experience.
Democrats will choose their nominees for all three offices in a June 8 primary. McAuliffe, who is trying to reclaim the post he held from 2014 to 2018, holds a commanding lead in Democratic polling.
Republicans have not won an election to statewide office since 2009, as the Old Dominion has moved more clearly into the Democratic column.
But Republican activists have been energized by the Democratic takeover of the legislature in 2020, which has ushered in a flurry of social legislation, including LGBTQ rights measures, gun control and marijuana legalization.
The Republican convention count — conducted by hand after some candidates objected to using computer software programs over fraud concerns — began Sunday afternoon at a hotel in downtown Richmond and was live-streamed.
The party used ranked-choice voting, which meant that if no one got a majority after the initial count, lower-finishing candidates were eliminated one-by-one and their votes reassigned to the delegate’s second choice.
Also, delegate votes didn’t count equally but were weighted based on where each delegate lives, with each county and independent city in Virginia given a number of delegates based on Republican performance in past elections.
Incumbent Governor Ralph Northam is barred by state law from seeking re-election; Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax is running for governor; and Attorney General Mark Herring is seeking re-election.