Who is Glenn Youngkin, the Republican who will be the next governor of Virginia?

Republican Glenn Youngkin has upset the political landscape in Virginia, a state President Biden won by 10 points only a year ago. CBS News projects Youngkin will win the race against Democrat Terry McAuliffe. 

Until recently, most Americans — and most Virginians — had never heard of him. So who is Youngkin?

The 54-year-old spent the bulk of his career at the Washington-based Carlyle Group investment firm, working his way until he retired as co-CEO in late 2020, shortly before announcing his bid for governor. Youngkin’s wealth from his time at the Carlyle Group is no secret. He donated $20 million to his own gubernatorial campaign. 

Youngkin grew up in Richmond and Virginia Beach, eventually getting his engineering degree from Rice University and his MBA from Harvard Business School before moving back to Virginia. He and his wife have four children. 

Election 2021 Virginia Governor
FILE: Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin gestures as he speaks to supporters during a rally in Chesterfield, Va., Monday, Nov. 1, 2021.  Steve Helber / AP

He centered much of his campaign around education, galvanizing parents who believe they should have more of a say in their children’s education and schools. A pivotal moment came during the final debate when McAuliffe said he doesn’t “think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.” Republicans ran with that line. Youngkin has also pledged to ban critical race theory from Virginia schools, although it is not taught in schools in the state.

“Together, together, we will change the trajectory of this commonwealth,” Youngkin said in his victory speech overnight. “And friends, we are going to start that transformation on day one. There is no time to waste. Our kids can’t wait, we work in real-people time, not government time. So on day one, we’re going to work. We’re going to restore excellence in our schools.” 

He’s also campaigned on public safety and backing police officers. On abortion, Youngkin has argued for a “pain threshold” bill, which would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Abortion is currently legal in Virginia up to 25 weeks. 

Although former President Trump hasn’t campaigned with Youngkin, he has called Youngkin a “fantastic guy.” 

Youngkin’s win is sure to concern national Democrats, many of whom are looking to Virginia as a bellwether for the 2022 midterm elections. 

Earlier Thursday, President Biden, while projecting that Democrats would win in Virginia, also said the outcomes in Virginia and New Jersey aren’t a referendum on his presidency. His signature pieces of legislation remain stalled on Capitol Hill, after months marked by inflation, the withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the COVID-19 Delta variant. 

Youngkin’s model of campaigning — honing in on the economy and culture war issues in a way that relates to suburban voters — could make a roadmap for other Republicans hoping to win statewide and congressional races in 2022. 

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