TRI-CITIES, Tenn./Va. (WJHL) — The 2021 race for Virginia governor is Glenn Youngkin’s first time running for office. His lack of political experience did not stop him from clinching the Republican nomination Monday night.
“I have a 30-year business career of getting things done,” Youngkin told News Channel 11 on Tuesday.
Youngkin, who hails from Richmond and Virginia Beach, was formerly a CEO for global private equity firm The Carlyle Group. As a political outsider, he likens himself to former President Donald Trump, who threw his support behind Youngkin on Tuesday morning.
“Glenn is pro-Business, pro-Second Amendment, pro-Veterans, pro-America, he knows how to make Virginia’s economy rip-roaring, and he has my Complete and Total Endorsement!” Trump said in a statement on his website.
Youngkin campaigned with an ad in March highlighting the former president thanking him by name back in January 2020 in relation to his work at The Carlyle Group.
“I’m honored to receive the president’s endorsement, and I do think it just reflects the fact that all of the Republican Party is coming together. And I’m humbled by that, because that’s what we’re going to have to do to win,” he told News Channel 11.
Youngkin is pushing a message of party unity following the Virginia GOP’s controversial decision to nominate candidates through a convention rather than a primary election.
While the Democratic primary won’t happen until June 8, Youngkin presumes former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe will be his challenger.
“I’ve also met independents and Democrats who are just so ready for a different direction than what Terry McAuliffe and Ralph Northam have done to Virginia,” Youngkin said.
The GOP candidate says his priorities include keeping Virginia’s economy and schools open as the state recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, maintaining qualified immunity for law enforcement, and requiring voter ID. He also launched an Election Integrity Task Force in February.
Asked what plans he has to specifically help the people of Southwest Virginia, Youngkin praised the entrepreneurship of the area and noted the need to attract new businesses.
“What we need of course, is we’ve got to get rural broadband moving. We’ve got to continue to invest in our infrastructure because Southwest Virginia has such as opportunity,” he said. “But we also have to create an environment where the businesses that are there can thrive. And this is where I’ve been so disappointed in what Terry McAuliffe believes. He’s all about big government, big regulations, and big taxes, and not to mention actually picking winners and losers. And I’m the exact opposite.”
The leaders of Virginia’s Democratic Party painted a different picture of Youngkin during a Tuesday press call. Chairwoman Susan Swecker called Youngkin an ‘extremist.’
“Glenn Youngkin is the epitome of a pro-Trump Republican who has demonstrated complete allegiance to the former president’s most dangerous conspiracy theories. Where Trump leads, Glenn follows,” she said.
Swecker also said the state GOP has an uphill climb heading into the election. She accused Republicans of alienating “hundreds of thousands of their own voters,” calling their convention “a rigged nominating process.”
One of five Democratic candidates will face Youngkin on Nov. 2. Candidates include McAuliffe, Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, Del. Lee Carter, former state Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, and state Sen. Jennifer McClellan.