By DAN MCCALEB
THE CENTER SQUARE EXECUTIVE EDITOR
(The Center Square) — Democrat Terry McAuliffe Wednesday morning conceded to Republican Glenn Youngkin in the race for Virginia governor in an election that political observers say could portend potential outcomes for the 2022 midterm elections in which control of Congress is at stake.
“Congratulations to Governor-Elect Glenn Youngkin on his victory,” Mr. McAuliffe said in a statement. “I hope Virginians will join me in wishing the best to him and his family.”
Mr. Youngkin, who during the campaign criticized Mr. McAuliffe for saying parents shouldn’t have a say in their own children’s education, touted his own education policies during his victory speech earlier Wednesday.
“We’re going to restore excellence in our schools,” Mr. Youngkin said. … “We’re going to introduce choice within our public school system. How about that? Choice within the public school system.”
Education was a key issue in the Virginia governor’s race.
During a debate last month, Mr. McAuliffe said, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach,” referencing outspoken parents showing up at school board meetings to protest the teaching of critical race theory and other controversial subjects. The Youngkin campaign jumped on the comment, highlighting it in advertisements and frequently referencing the quote during his campaign rallies.
“We’re going to embrace our parents, not ignore them,” Mr. Youngkin said in his victory speech.
With more than 95% of precincts reporting, Mr. Youngkin held a 50.7% to 48.6% advantage. Major media outlets across the country projected the margin was too large for Mr. McAuliffe to catch up to as votes continued to be counted into Wednesday morning.
Republicans also appeared primed to retake control of the Virginia House.
In his concession statement, Mr. McAuliffe said Virginians need to continue fighting for the policies he ran on during the campaign.
“While last night we came up short, I am proud that we spent this campaign fighting for the values we so deeply believe in. We must protect Virginia’s great public schools and invest in our students,” he said.
“We must protect affordable health care coverage, raise the minimum wage faster, and expand paid leave so working families have a fighting shot. We must protect voting rights, protect a woman’s right to choose, and, above all else, we must protect our democracy.”
President Joe Biden won Virginia by 10 percentage points over former President Donald Trump last year, but Tuesday’s win by Mr. Youngkin is a potentially ominous sign for Democrats heading into next year’s midterm elections.
Most public opinion polls had the race to succeed incumbent Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam within a percentage point or two.
The Virginia governor’s race was being watched closely by political observers across the country as the first potential bellwether of Americans’ attitudes about the direction of the country under President Joe Biden, who is finishing his first year in office.
President Biden’s approval rating has plummeted as increased inflation grips the country, supply chain issues are leading to empty store shelves ahead of the holidays, illegal immigration continues to surge and federal COVID-19 policies are dividing Americans.
With control of the U.S. House and Senate on the line during next year’s midterms, pundits are pointing to this race as a potential early indicator of what could come in 2022.