By Mary Alice Russell
The Republican Party dominated Virginia elections this past Tuesday, revealing a major shift in statewide politics over the last year.
Republican Glenn Youngkin got 50.82% of the vote with 2727 precincts of 2855 reporting to the Virginia Department of Elections as of Thursday morning. The businessman-turned-politician beat out Democratic nominee and former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe
Youngkin ran a campaign that shifted in recent months to focus on education and the importance of parent involvement in education, highlighting Critical Race Theory as a major issue in Virginia public schools.
About 34% of Virginia voters ranked the economy as their top priority, while 17% said COVID-19 was the most important issue. Education was the top priority for 14% of voters, according to a survey done by the Associated Press.
For some Lexington voters, education was their primary motivation. “That’s what’s on everybody’s mind, that’s what people are coming to vote on today,” said Fred Clark, a poll volunteer handing out ballots.
Local voters also mentioned women’s rights as another major issue.
“I think the abortion rights and what should be taught in school are two big things right now and whether the governor should be able to tell parents what should or should not be taught in school”
“I think the abortion rights and what should be taught in school are two big things right now and whether the governor should be able to tell parents what should or should not be taught in school,” said Sabrina Matlock, who voted in-person on Election Day.
The governor-elect has attracted Donald Trump supporters, but also distanced himself from the former president, which helped him win more moderate voters.
Trump is popular in some parts of Virginia, but last year, Biden won Virginia with relative ease with 54% of the state voting for him, the Virginia Department of Elections reported.
“Together we will change the trajectory of this Commonwealth,” Youngkin said in his victory speech early Wednesday morning.
GOP success down the ballot
For the other statewide races, Republicans also won big.
Winsome Sears took 50.99% of the vote for lieutenant governor, according to Thursday morning’s count. Sears, a Jamaican immigrant who served in the Marine Corps, was previously the vice president of the Virginia Board of education. She will be the first woman and the first woman of color to hold the
For attorney general, Virginia voters elected Republican Jason Miyares over Mark Herring in a narrower race. Miyares received 50.63% of the vote.
Herring was the incumbent and had been attorney general under both Gov. Ralph Northam and McAuliffe.
In the Virginia House of Delegates, Republicans took more seats than in 2019 when Democrats won a 55-45 majority.
On the local level, the election went more as expected with the city of Lexington voting predominately Democratic and Rockbridge County going red. Republican Ronnie Campbell will keep his 24th District seat on the Virginia House of Delegates, earning 73.91% of the vote with 54 of 60 precincts reporting.
In Rockbridge County and Buena Vista, local government positions were up for grabs. Incumbents maintained their seats in the contested Rockbridge County races and for the four Buena Vista school board seats.
In Kerrs Creek, Daniel Lyons kept his board of supervisors’ seat, winning 56.1% of the vote with five of the six precincts reporting. Scott Guise ran against Lyons for the seat. Guise, who owns a local shooting range, and Lyons both focused on the economy.
Another Kerrs Creek election saw two new candidates running for an open school board seat. Both women are former Rockbridge County teachers who focused on mental health and technical education. Catie Austin-Brown defeated Morgan McCown. Austin-Brown won 60.1% of the vote with five of the six precincts reporting.
Austin-Brown was more moderate in her opinions surrounding education than McCown. Austin-Brown believes that Critical Race Theory is not being taught in public schools in Virginia, but the discussion surrounding the topic is important.
Albert Lewis II held his seat on the Board of Supervisors with 59.8% of the vote with six precincts of seven reporting.
The four incumbents running for the four seats for Buena Vista Member School Board maintained their seats. Charles Jolley, the only non-incumbent running got the fewest number of votes at 12%.