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Glenn Youngkin wins Virginia GOP’s nomination for governor

Political newcomer bests 6 rivals to set up likely fall race against Democrat Terry McAuliffe

♦By Rich Shumate, editor

VirginiaRICHMOND (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.

Glenn Youngkin

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.

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Virginia Republicans pick nominees for statewide races at convention Saturday

Voting will take place at 39 different locations across the commonwealth, using weighted and ranked-choice voting

♦By Rich Shumate, editor

VirginiaRICHMOND (CFP) — Republicans delegates will gather across Virginia on Saturday to pick their nominees for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general using a complex process that will leave candidates waiting for results for days — results that, in an echo of 2020, one candidate for governor has already warned supporters not to trust.

All three races have drawn crowded fields, with seven candidates in the governor’s race, six running for lieutenant governor, and four competing for attorney general. Republicans have not won any of those offices since 2009.

The Republican Party of Virginia decided to nominate candidates with a convention, rather than a primary, which is allowed under state law but which set off internal wrangling over process that is likely to continue long after the votes are cast.

After discarding plans for a state convention at a single location due to COVID-19 concerns, the more than 53,000 delegates who have registered to participate will drop off ballots at one of 39 drive-thru polling locations. The locations will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Ballots will then be driven to a central location in Richmond to be counted by hand, after some candidates objected to electronic counting. Counting won’t begin until Sunday and is expected to last until at least Tuesday before winners are declared. The counting process will be live-streamed.

Despite loud complaints from Republicans nationally about voter fraud, NBC News reported that the state party quietly decided to let delegates participate who did not provide their state-issued voter ID number or signature on their delegate applications, although ID will be required to cast ballots Saturday.

Further complicating the process is the fact that delegate votes won’t count equally but will be weighted based on where each delegate lives.

Each county and independent city in Virginia was given a number of delegates based on Republican performance in past elections, and delegates from each locality will pick those delegates. That means that some rural, heavily Republican counties will elect more delegates than much larger, Democratic Richmond, although larger numbers of delegates in those areas could make the value of each individual delegate vote less.

To add another layer of complexity, the party is also using ranked-choice voting, in which delegates will rank candidates rather than selecting one. If no candidate gains a majority, candidates with fewer votes will be eliminated and their votes reassigned to delegates’ second choices, until someone gains a majority.

Ranked-choice voting is normally associated with more Democratic-leaning electorates, such as the city of San Francisco and the state of Maine. But Virginia Republicans used the process in electing a party chair in 2020 and opted to continue with the practice this year.

The decision to hold a convention rather than a primary and use ranked-choice voting have been seen as maneuvers to block State Senator Amanda Chase from winning the party’s nomination for governor.

Chase — who describes herself as “Trump in heels” — would have been formidable in a primary or a convention where a candidate could win with a plurality. She has loudly objected to procedural decisions by state party leaders, at one point threatening to bolt and run as an independent.

In a recent fundraising email sent to supporters, Chase said, in all caps, “DO NOT TRUST THE PARTY TO DELIVER ACCURATE RESULTS” and threatened a lawsuit if the party’s figures don’t match those compiled by her own campaign.

Since the 2020 election, Chase has embraced Donald Trump’s unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud and his assertion that he was cheated out of re-election.

In addition to Chase, the governor’s race includes State Delegate Kirk Cox, who served as House speaker until Republicans lost control of the legislature in 2017; Glenn Youngkin, an investment company executive; Pete Snyder, a venture capitalist who was the GOP nominee for lieutenant governor in 2013; Octavia Johnson, the former sheriff in Roanoke; Peter Doran, a former think tank CEO; and Sergio de la Peña, a former Army colonel who served as a deputy assistant defense secretary in the Pentagon during the Trump administration.

The survivor of the convention will likely face the formidable challenge of trying to beat Democratic former governor Terry McAuliffe, who is trying to reclaim the post he held from 2014 to 2018 and holds a wide lead in polls in the Democratic race.

The race for lieutenant governor includes State Delegate Glenn Davis; former Delegate Tim Hugo; Puneet Ahluwalia, a business consultant; Lance Allen, an Air Force veteran who works for a defense contractor; Maeve Rigler, an attorney and businesswoman; and former Delegate Winsome Sears.

The lieutenant governor’s race was rocked in the final stretch with an anonymous robocall accusing Davis of being a “gay Democrat.” He filed a defamation suit to try to unmask who was behind the attack.

The attorney general’s race includes Chesterfield County Supervisor Leslie Haley, State Delegate Jason Miyares and attorneys Chuck Smith and Jack White.

Democrats will choose their nominees for all three offices in a June 8 primary.

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.

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Virginia Democrats flip both houses of General Assembly from red to blue

Democrats will now have total control of reapportionment after 2020 census

♦By Rich Shumate, editor

RICHMOND (CFP) — Democrats have won majorities in the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates for the first time in 24 years, completing a takeover of state government that will give them total control of the reapportionment process after the 2020 census.

Democrats won 21 of the 40 seats in the Senate and 54 of the 100 seats in the House in the November 5 vote.

Coupled with the Democratic sweep of all three statewide offices in 2017 and flipping three U.S. House seats in 2018, Tuesday’s result is the latest evidence that political control Old Dominion has slipped away from the GOP and into Democratic hands.

The two legislative chambers in Virginia will also be the only two under Democratic control anywhere in the South; Republicans control the other 26.

Heading into the election, Republicans held a 21-to-19 majority in the Senate and a 51-to-49 majority in the House. Democrats needed to flip two seats to control the House and one seat to control the Senate, where Democratic Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax holds the tie-breaking vote.

Their gain in the House was five seats, while they picked up two in the Senate.

As they did in 2017 and 2018, Democrats picked up seats in suburbs of Washington, D.C., Richmond and Hampton Roads. Among the casualties was last Republican left representing a district in the inner D.C. suburbs, Delegate Tim Hugo from Fairfax County, who has been in the legislature for the last 17 years.

The top ranking Republican in the House, Speaker Kirk Cox from Colonial Heights, had to battle to keep his seat, surviving with a narrow 4-point victory that will return him to Richmond, though not to the speaker’s chair.

Republicans  retained House control after the 2017 election only after one of their candidates, David Yancey, won a drawing by lot after his race against Democrat Shelly Simonds ended in a tie. This time around in a rematch, Simonds easily beat Yancey, taking nearly 57 percent of the vote.

In addition to now controlling the legislature, Democrats also hold both of Virginia’s U.S. Senate seats, the governorship, and seven out of 11 seats in the congressional delegation. Democrats have also won the last three presidential elections in the state.

With control of the legislature and governorship, Democrats will be in complete control of reapportionment after the 2020 census, allowing them to protect the gains they have made by drawing favorable maps for the next decade.

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