NORFOLK, Va. — Republican former business executive Glenn Youngkin has won Virginia’s governor’s race, a major political turnabout in a state that had been trending increasingly blue.
The Associated Press called the race after 12:30 a.m. Wednesday, hours after the polls closed at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
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Youngkin's victory comes as the final polls in the race were deadlocked amid heightened Republican enthusiasm and President Joe Biden's sagging poll numbers. The most recent poll from the Wason Center showed Youngkin and Democrat Terry McAuliffe statistically tied 48 to 49% with independents moving toward the former.
The win is sure to alarm national Democrats already nervous about holding their party’s narrow control of Congress in next year’s midterm elections.
The 54-year-old Youngkin is a political newcomer and was a virtual unknown at the start of the race, with his campaign calling him a "political outsider." He beat McAuliffe, who served as governor from 2014 to 2018.
Before his recent entry into politics, Youngkin served as the CEO of The Carlyle Group, an international firm that manages about $230 billion in investments.
Youngkin's win is great news for national Republicans, who are looking to take back control of Congress in the 2022 midterm elections. This race garnered national attention as a possible early indicator of what's to come next year.
President Joe Biden won Virginia by a comfortable 10 percentage points last year, but that disappeared as Youngkin beat back the Democrats’ efforts to portray him as a clone of former President Donald Trump.
In a statement Tuesday night, Trump congratulated Youngkin on his victory.
"The MAGA movement is bigger and stronger than ever before," Trump said. "Glenn will be a great governor. Thank you to the people of the Commonwealth of Virginia and most particularly, to our incredible MAGA voters!"
McAuliffe conceded the race Wednesday morning, congratulating Youngkin on his victory and asking Virginians to wish him and his family the best. Here's the full statement:
"While last night we came up short, I am proud that we spent this campaign fighting for the values we so deeply believe in. We must protect Virginia's great public schools and invest in our students. We must protect affordable health care coverage, raise the minimum wage faster, and expand paid leave so working families have a fighting shot. We must protect voting rights, protect a woman's right to choose, and, above all else, we must protect our democracy. While there will be setbacks along the way, I am confident that the long term path of Virginia is toward inclusion, openness and tolerance for all.
"Congratulations to Governor-Elect Glenn Youngkin on his victory. I hope Virginians will join me in wishing the best to him and his family.
"I would like to thank my wife Dorothy, my family, and my incredible campaign team for their tireless efforts and dedication over these past eleven months. And to all of my supporters across Virginia who knocked on millions of doors, made countless phone calls, and talked to their family, friends and neighbors: I am eternally grateful that you joined me on this journey to move Virginia forward.
"Serving as Virginia’s 72nd governor was the highest honor of my life, and I will never stop fighting to make our Commonwealth stronger and brighter for all."
Youngkin will succeed Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam, who succeeded McAuliffe in 2018. He will be sworn in on Jan. 15, 2022.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.