Virginia Governor Inauguration

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Glenn Youngkin speaking at a rally leading up to the Governor Election.

On November 2nd, Virginia had it’s 2021 governor election. It was a close race, with Glenn Youngkin overtaking Terry McAuliffe with 63,480 votes. Campaigning for the election started in June. On January 15th, 2022, Youngkin will be sworn into office, becoming the Commonwealth’s 74th governor, taking over from current democratic Governor Ralph Northam.

 

Youngkin won a majority of his votes with promises on fixing many of Virginia’s economic issues. He promised to add more jobs and business opportunities by cutting regulations and reducing taxes. He vows to do this by “growing 400,000 new jobs, fostering 10,000 start-up businesses.” Youngkin also plans on improving the state’s education system by keeping schools open five days a week, regardless of Covid and opening around twenty charter schools throughout Virginia.

 

Given the state’s recent history of Democratic governors, the switch to a Republican is a big change. This change could mean a lot of things and could give some insight into the next presidential election. Woodgrove Government teacher Mrs. Diana Shea explained, “Virginia is going to continue to be a purple state, meaning a toss-up. If you look at the legislative branch, it’s been Republican in the last couple decades. Some of the statewide races have gone Democratic, but that shows that the state is still very divided.” Shea further elaborates on how Virginia’s turnout could impact future elections. “It could be a swing state for a variety of different elections… I think we’re going to see a lot of focus on Virginia coming up in 2024.” 

 

Shea states that she didn’t believe that the 2020 presidential election had much of an impact on the result of the governor’s race. “I think that a lot of it dealt with local issues that came up. I think that education played a key role more so than national politics. I would say that it was more state and local issues,” she explains. 

 

Youngkin’s plans for Virginia have sparked different opinions throughout the school. Seniors Lizzy Nielson and Madeline Wall, presidents of the Young Conservatives, spoke on the club’s behalf. “We 100% believe that the 2020 presidential election played a key role in the Virginia election,” Nielson says. The students agreed that the 2020 presidential election was used in campaigning, by both competitors. They concluded that this election was critical for future races. “I think we’re going to see a huge shift, and we’ll see a change in future elections… I think this will definitely affect the midterms and the primary,” Wall adds. Nielsen and Wall state that the club was generally excited about Youngkin’s plans. “Off the bat, we’d like to see mask mandates in school to be lifted over time, and eventually have no masks in school,” Wall adds. 

 

Seniors Emma Batt and Kari Goldin, leaders of the Young Progressives, give their perspectives from their side of the political aisle. Goldin shares how she fears that with Youngkin winning the election this year, it may set a precedent for other Republican leaders to win in future Virginia elections. 

 

Both Batt and Goldin touch on the issue of mask mandates and their concern for it being lifted within schools across the state. “For the most part, we’re not excited about the mandate potentially being lifted, we really want our school to be safe for everyone,” stated Batt. The two fear that this will divide Virginia’s political groups even further.

 

The conclusion of the race brought different ideas, important issues, and the rise of political discussion. At the end of the day, only time will tell how this election will affect Virginia’s future.

The demographics of which candidate counties in Virginia voted for, red being the Republican candidate (Glenn Youngkin) and blue being the Democratic candidate (Terry McAuliffe).