Republican Glenn Youngkin has been elected as Virginia’s next governor in a major upset for American President Joe Biden, according to U.S. media projections.
The projections early Wednesday showed Mr Youngkin was 2.1 points ahead of Democrat Terry McAuliffe, with 99 per cent of votes counted.
Mr McAuliffe, who served as governor from 2014 to 2018, saw his opinion poll lead vanish in recent weeks, BBC reports, saying that the “ballot has been widely seen as a referendum on Joe Biden’s presidency, and defeat will unnerve the Democrats.”
The Democratic candidate, Mr McAuliffe, had campaigned with Mr Biden and former president Barack Obama but it was not enough to secure the seat.
The Associated Press called the race for Mr Youngkin. It said the Republican took an early lead, while Mr McAuliffe lagged in key counties that Mr Biden swept in 2020.
Clenching his fist, Mr Youngkin, 54, addressed jubilant supporters in a televised broadcast “All righty, Virginia, we won this thing!” he said. “How much fun!”
He said it is “a defining moment” for millions of Virginians “sharing dreams and hopes” promising that “together, we will change the trajectory of this commonwealth and friends, we are going to start that transformation on day one. There is no time to waste.”
“We are going to restore excellence in our schools… We are going to introduce choice in our public school system… Friends, we’re going to embrace our parents, not ignore them. We’re gonna press forward with a curriculum that includes listening to parents’ input.”
“The fight continues,” the Democratic candidate, Mr McAuliffe, said in a speech on Tuesday night.
“We’ve got to make sure we protect women’s right to choose here in the commonwealth of Virginia. We’ve got to make sure everyone gets quality, affordable healthcare here in the commonwealth of Virginia. Everybody’s entitled to a world-class education here in the commonwealth of Virginia and we are going to continue that fight tonight, and every day going forward.”
Virginians on Tuesday headed to the polls to elect a new governor, in the closely contested race.
They did so as a leading Virginia polling expert warned that Mr Youngkin may be riding a wave of “white backlash” all the way to the governor’s mansion, having successfully focused on controversy over the place of race in education.
The state’s current Democratic governor, Ralph Northam, was unable to stand for re-election as Virginia does not allow governors to serve consecutive terms in office.
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