Editorial: Glenn Youngkin offers a new vision for Virginia – The Virginian-Pilot

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Republican Glenn Youngkin offered an optimistic and enthusiastic vision for Virginia’s future during his victory speech in Chantilly early Wednesday morning.
Gone were the menacing undertones that marked the final days of the campaign — there was no mention of critical race theory, for instance. It was the speech of someone who, while committed to his campaign platform and his party’s agenda, sounded eager to govern from the center, for all of Virginia.
He will have the opportunity to do so in January when he takes his oath of office to become the commonwealth’s 75th governor after defeating the Democratic nominee and former Gov. Terry McAuliffe in a monumental day for the Virginia GOP.
Youngkin emerged from a crowded Republican field in a closed primary to win the nomination, a difficult starting point from which to launch a successful campaign. But through disciplined messaging and a relentless focus on public education in the closing weeks, the former Carlyle Group executive and first-time candidate emerged victorious.
The GOP standard-bearer managed to inspire supporters of Donald Trump and conservatives less enthusiastic about the former president while convincing independents and even suburban Democrats he deserved their votes. The whole of Virginia moved rightward — from the deep red corners of southwest Virginia to the cobalt blue Democratic strongholds of Northern Virginia and here in Hampton Roads.
Youngkin’s campaign was a delicate, difficult dance. Youngkin dabbled with election conspiracies and sent some of the most rabid pro-Trump Virginia Republicans to stump for him, while offering a more moderate, measured platform while campaigning himself, speaking to the media or during the two gubernatorial debates.
It was that measured candidate who appeared on stage in the wee hours on Wednesday when election forecasters had called the race in his favor. He outlined his “Day One” agenda with bread-and-butter issues about taxes, public safety and public education.
He promised to create 400,000 new jobs, launch 10,000 new small businesses, replace the Virginia Parole Board, roll out the largest public education budget in Virginia’s history, create 20 new charter schools and begin a school choice program.
It’s ambitious and reflective of the one-term limitation Virginia puts on its executive. But it was also indicative of the Glenn Youngkin who campaigned across the commonwealth, who led an aggressive and focused campaign that worked tirelessly to put him in office and who inspired voters to oust a Democratic Party that held the Governor’s Mansion since 2013.
Of course, there was another Glenn Youngkin in this campaign.
The one who, during the primary, sought the favor and support of former President Donald Trump. Who said at a Loudoun County event in June that he would go “on the offensive” against abortion. Who had campaign surrogates who promoted lies about the 2020 election and supported the Jan. 6 insurrection. Who said he wasn’t sure if human activity affects the climate. (It does.)
And there was his relentless focus on critical race theory, a catch-all term for the simmering discontent about history instruction, diversity and inclusion initiatives and other efforts to provide racial equity in education. Youngkin promised to “ban” it on day one, without ever specifying what “it” is.
But none of that was mentioned in his victory speech on Wednesday. Instead, Youngkin talked about making Virginia “soar,” working to “reestablish excellence in our schools” and that he would “embrace our parents, not ignore them.”
For many Virginians, it was that optimistic agenda for the commonwealth’s future which saw them cast their ballots for Youngkin on Tuesday. And, in contrast to the controversy about education, exit polling suggests the economy was the No. 1 issue motivating the electorate.
The governor-elect knows this. He knows his time in office will be short and go quickly. And on Wednesday morning, he sounded like a man ready to get to work on behalf of all Virginians.
Youngkin asked for a chance to lead. Now he has it. Virginia’s best wishes go with him.