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Election Night in Virginia: A Statewide Sweep By Republicans

Virginia Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin speaks at an election night party in Chantilly, Va., early Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021, after he defeated Democrat Terry McAuliffe, as his wife Suzanne, and children, Grant, Anna and Thomas listen.
Virginia Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin speaks at an election night party in Chantilly, Va., early Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021, after he defeated Democrat Terry McAuliffe, as his wife Suzanne, and children, Grant, Anna and Thomas listen.

Republican Glenn Youngkin has won Virginia's gubernatorial election, according to projections from the Associated Press.

At 12:45 am, Youngkin led Democrat Terry McAuliffe by about 82,000 votes. The Republican candidate for Lieutenant Governor, Winsome Sears, and Attorney General, Jason Miyares, were also leading their Democratic opponents.

They are the first statewide wins for Republicans since 2009. Sears will be the first Black woman elected to statewide office and Miyares the first Latino to win a statewide post.

Speaking to supporters early Wednesday morning, Youngkin said "together we will change the trajectory of this Commonwealth... Our kids can't wait - we work in real people time, not government time."

Republicans Win Majority In House of Delegates

Republicans picked up at least 6 seats in the House of Delegates.

In the New River Valley, Jason Ballard upset incumbent Democrat Chris Hurst. In the Fredericksburg area, incumbent Democrat Joshua Cole lost to Tara Durant. And in the Petersburg area, incumbent Lashrecse Aird was upset by Republican Kim Taylor.

The six pick-ups by Republican candidates give the GOP a 51-49 majority in the chamber, and there are a few close races that could still go to a recount.

Should that majority hold, Republicans are already starting to lay out an agenda for the next session. One item is rolling back some of the expanded public benefits brought on by the pandemic and its resulting economic impact. “We want Virginians to get back to work," said Todd Gilbert, who represents portions of the Shenandoah Valley and is the Republican leader in the House. "We think that a number of the policy positions that have gone throughout this pandemic have incentivized people staying out of the workplace. It’s hurting the economy ultimately. It’s leading to really unintended consequences.” 

Gilbert also said Democrats legalized marijuana in Virginia earlier this year, but failed to put in any sort of regulatory framework – leading to what he calls a black market.

Gilbert is in line to become Speaker of the House of Delegates.

Democrats Try To Figure Out What Went Wrong

Democrats aren't just upset because they lost. They're also upset that Republicans stole the issue of education from them.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe gestures as he speaks in front of the flag of Virginia at an election party in McLean, Va., Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021. Voters are deciding between Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin.
Steve Helber
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe gestures as he speaks in front of the flag of Virginia at an election party in McLean, Va., Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021. Voters are deciding between Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin.

Delegate Kay Kory represents Fairfax County. "I think Terry made an unfortunate remark, and that started it because before that there really was not any talk about this on this scale."

That would be Terry McAuliffe's remark at the second debate that parents shouldn't be telling schools what they should teach. Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay says the debate over racial politics was frustrating. "What's disappointed me is to have people say to me that they are voting on an issue like critical race theory, and they can't articulate what that actually is. We don't teach that in our schools, and so when Glenn Youngkin says he's going to eliminate that he's eliminating something we don't even teach."

Congressman Gerry Connolly says the failure of federal lawmakers to act on President Biden's agenda hurt Democrats. "It didn't cost us the election. But it didn't help."

10:45 Update

90% of precincts had reported their Election Day results as of 10:45.

Republican Glenn Youngkin continues to lead Democrat Terry McAuliffe, but the gap has shrunk to about five points.

Speaking to a crowd of supporters in northern Virginia, McAuliffe said there are still more votes to count.

Republicans have also picked up three seats in the House of Delegates.

Voters in Richmond weighed in today on plans to bring a casino to the city. And it appears that voters have rejected that proposal with all but one precinct reporting results as of 10:45.

10 PM Update

Most precincts have reported their Election Day results, and Republican Glenn Youngkin continues to lead Democrat Terry McAuliffe as of 9:45.

Republicans are also leading in the attorney general and lieutenant governor races.

Three Virginia localities weighed in on removing or relocating Confederate monuments. And with most precincts reporting results as of 9:45, voters in Matthews, Middlesex and Nottoway Counties favor keeping those monuments where they are.

Virginia Department of Elections Reports Largely Smooth Voting Process

The Virginia Department of Elections has provided another update on how the voting process went across the state today.

And Commissioner Chris Piper says for the most part, the process was a smooth one.

The biggest issue was a few precincts running out of ballots. That included voting locations in Appomattox, Chesterfield, Floyd, Powhatan and Albemarle Counties.

Piper said there's no state mandate for how many ballots are on hand.

"So the law does require localities to notify the department of how many ballots they intend to order," he explained. "And we do have an opportunity to talk to them about their order. But ultimately it's a locality decision." 

Piper said affected precincts were provided with more ballots, but some of those will have to be hand counted. He didn't expect that to significantly delay results.

Polls in Virginia Are Now Closed

Polls in Virginia have now closed, but anyone still in line will be able to cast a ballot.

Virginians are picking their next governor. Democrat Terry McAuliffe is attempting to get back to the governor's mansion in Richmond. He's running against Republican Glenn Youngkin.

The attorney general race between Republican Jason Miyares and Democratic incumbent Mark Herring was also on today's ballot.

Virginians also weighed in on the lieutenant governor contest between Democrat Hala Ayala and Republican Winsome Sears.

Republicans haven't won a statewide race since 2009, but several polls in the days leading up to Election Day showed very close match ups in all three statewide contests.

Several House of Delegates seats are up for grabs. Voters in Richmond will also weigh in on whether plans for a casino should go forward.

Charlottesville voters will pick a new mayor.

Speaking with Virginia Voters in the 2021 Elections

About 1.1 million people voted early in this election; 20% of all registered voters.

Joe Staniunas talked to some in southwest Virginia who waited until Election Day to cast their ballots.

Speaking with Voters in Virginia's 2021 Elections
Joe Staniunas reports.

“The polls are now open…”

Rain fell most of the morning in western Virginia as voting began.

The forecasts all call for a close finish in the race for governor between Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin.

Botetourt County voter Kristel Wittenholdner believes McAuliffe’s debate line about parental involvement in schools could be the difference for Youngkin.

“Some of the beliefs that McAuliffe has, especially with parents, the comment about the parents. I have an 8-year-old child so I have to look out for her future,” Wittenholdner says.

For Blacksburg voter Chris Thompson, Youngkin’s views on voting rules are too conservative.

“It’s important that as many people get to vote as possible, and things like voting integrity is just code for voter suppression in my mind," Thompson says.

Many people like Blacksburg voter Tom Gabbard see the governor’s race as a referendum on President Biden.

“I think McAuliffe is a reflection of Biden and I think Biden has just really had an awful start and I think we need to make some changes," explains Gabbard.

But voters like Myoshoa Jordan of Roanoke say Youngkin is too close to Donald Trump.

“I don’t want anyone who’s not going to support the needs of my community, and my community is the Black community," Jordan says. "I just don’t feel like a lot of stuff that he says aligns with our initiative and what we need to do.”

Polls will be open until 7pm.

Department of Elections Reports No Major Issues at Polling Places

Over the past year or two, the General Assembly has greatly expanded early voting opportunities. And more than a million Virginians took advantage of that, according to Chris Piper, the Commissioner of the Department of Elections.

Lawmakers also directed local electoral boards to begin processing mail-in absentee ballots before Election Day.

"This is helpful because it means the localities should very easily process the remaining ballots they get today and begin tabulating results shortly after the polls close at 7pm," Piper explained.

He expects localities to begin tabulating and reporting results fairly quickly after the polls close.

He also said there were no major problems at any polling places, as of 11 am.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.