Virginia Republicans choose wealthy newcomer Glenn Youngkin as gubernatorial nominee

·2 min read

More than 30,000 delegates around Virginia voted Sunday to pick the Republican nominees for statewide office, and by Monday night, two of three nominations were settled. Glenn Youngkin, the former CEO of the Carlyle Group private equity firm who campaigned as a "conservative Christian outsider," beat six other candidates to win the gubernatorial nomination, and Del. Jason Miyares narrowly won the attorney general race Sunday. The lieutenant governor ballots are still being counted.

Republicans have not won statewide office in Virginia since 2009. Gov. Ralph Northam (D) is barred by state law from seeking a second consecutive term, and Democrats will pick their nominees in a June 8 primary. Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe is considered the frontrunner.

Youngkin, like all the other GOP gubernatorial candidates, embraced the politics of former President Donald Trump, though he was more nuanced than some of his rivals. He made "election integrity" a centerpiece of his campaign. Election security was certainly an issue among the GOP candidates; Youngkin hired his own private security guards to stand outside the room with the ballots, until hotel security escorted them out.

State Sen. Amanda Chase (R), a far-right candidate more closely aligned with Trump, was the second-to-last candidate standing in the GOP's ranked-choice voting system. "She has suggested she might run as an independent if she feels like the nomination process was unfair," The Washington Post reports. The hard-right runner up in the attorney general race, Chuck Smith, demanded a recount.

Youngkin's own "enthusiasm for Trump is a tightrope walk in a state where the former president remains popular with the GOP base but not with the electorate as a whole, having lost elections here by more than 5 points in 2016 and 10 points last year," The Associated Press notes. Republicans are hopeful that Youngkin, who has already loaned more than $5 million to his campaign, does better in the suburbs.

"It seems to me that Youngkin, who has the most minimal record but is clearly a very good retail politician and has almost unlimited resources, will be able to run the most effective campaign of the Republican candidates," veteran Virginia political analyst Bob Holsworth told AP.

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