Hedge fund investor Glenn Youngkin will be the, after an arduous convention process that one candidate claimed was “rigged” for others.
After a failed push for a primary process in March, the state party decided to hold an unassembled convention of 39 remote “drive-thru” locations. About 30,000 of the 53,000 registered delegates came out to vote on Saturday.
Due to former President Trump’s baseless claims of voter fraud and distrust in election voting machines, only paper ballots were used. Ballots were counted in person by a crew of about 60 at a hotel ballroom near the capitol, and the state party streamed the count online.
Youngkin, a Virginia native, is the former co-CEO of a global investment firm, the Carlyle Group. He lent $5.5 million of his own money toward his campaign, according to an April finance report, and went canvassing with Senator Ted Cruz of Texas in the week leading up to the convention.
In his remarks after Snyder conceded, Youngkin said, “Virginians have made it clear that they are ready for a political outsider with proven business experience to bring real change in Richmond.”
The party went with ranked choice voting this year, a first time for statewide races. Youngkin won the nomination after five rounds, and got enough second-choice votes to reach the majority needed.
He beat out a field of seven candidates, including entrepreneur Pete Snyder, former GOP House Delegate Speaker Kirk Cox and State Senator Amanda Chase.
Chase, who has fueled distrust in the convention process, tweeted Saturday she has “plenty of time” to run as an independent candidate in November.
Similar to Chase, Youngkin has pushed the idea of doubt in the integrity of the 2020 presidential election. In March, he proposed an “Election Integrity Taskforce” that calls for more observers and voting machine audits. A February poll by Christopher Newport University found 61% of Virginia Republicans believe Mr. Biden did not win legitimately.
“President Biden is our president. He was inaugurated,” Youngkin told CBS News in March when asked if he trusts the 2020 election results. “The reality is there are people who don’t trust the process. We have to reestablish trust.”
Youngkin is hoping to be the first Virginia Republican to win a statewide race since 2009. The state has turned blue in the past decade and has voted Democratic in every presidential race since 2008. Mr. Biden won the state by more than 450,000 votes.
Quentin Kidd, the dean of Arts and Sciences at Christopher Newport University, said Youngkin’s nomination breaks a decade of selecting established hardline, Tea Party-like candidates for statewide races like they did with Ken Cucinelli in 2013’s gubernatorial race and Corey Stewart in 2018’s Senate race.
“They’re not movement Republicans in the sense that they have spent years and years in the political trenches kind of fighting the tea party battles in Virginia, and then fighting for Trump. They don’t have that baggage,” Kidd said about Youngkin and Snyder before the race was called.
Kidd added that depending on how Youngkin runs his campaign going forward, and how much he ties himself to Mr. Trump in a state he lost by 10 points in 2020, there could be important signs for the party at large heading into 2022.
“If [he] runs, keeping a distance from the ‘Trump train,’ sort of giving it lip service but not really fully embracing it, and [he] loses, it may say Republican base voters just aren’t going to get excited about someone who isn’t fully a Trumper,” Kidd said, adding that a Youngkin win shows Republicans “if you want to win in a place like Virginia… you got to appeal to those suburban moderate voters that aren’t excited about Trumpian politics.”
Virginia Democrats choose their gubernatorial nominee in a primary on June 8. In a statement, the Democratic Governors Association called Youngkin “an out-of-touch and toxic candidate that’s running on an extreme agenda that includes supporting Trump’s false conspiracies about the 2020 election, opposing the critical federal COVID-19 relief passed in the American Rescue Plan, and attacking Medicaid expansion.”
On Sunday, Republican Virginia Beach Delegate Jason Miyares won the nomination for Attorney General. Ballots for the GOP candidate for lieutenant governor will be counted Tuesday morning.