Glenn Youngkin, who made a fortune at the massive private equity firm Carlyle Group and has never held public office, claimed the Republican nomination for this year’s Virginia gubernatorial race on Monday night. Youngkin, who poured millions of dollars of his own money into his campaign, embraced former President Donald Trump and promoted the Republican “election integrity” agenda that is grounded in Trump’s lies about a stolen election. Youngkin’s campaign touted endorsements by Sen. Ted Cruz and religious-right activists.
Youngkin’s press release declaring victory repeatedly refers to him as a “political outsider”—one of his consistent talking points—but his campaign embraced the hard-right wing of the Republican Party. His campaign has bragged that he and his wife “personally contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to Republican candidates and organizations across the country.”
Last week, Fox News’ increasingly extreme host Tucker Carlson gave Youngkin a platform to promote his campaign with culture-war claims about Democrats wanting to teach critical race theory in schools. Youngkin told Carlson he would protect the Second Amendment and “our right to life,” pledged to fight to maintain Virginia’s anti-union “right to work” law, and promised to protect qualified immunity, which often prevents law enforcement officials from being held accountable for abusive policing.
In March, Youngkin announced the creation of Virginia Wins PAC, a “seven-figure” fundraising effort to “counter the liberal agenda driven in Virginia by George Soros,” a frequent target of right-wing conspiracy theories. Youngkin described his PAC as “a huge investment in rebuilding the Republican Party in Virginia and fighting back against George Soros’ ideological agenda.” Youngkin added, “I can’t sit by and watch while the left runs wild in my home state.”
Youngkin’s campaign celebrated endorsements from religious-right activists. On April 25, Youngkin won a straw poll after a candidate debate hosted by the anti-choice, anti-LGBTQ-equality Virginia Faith & Freedom Coalition and the Family Foundation of Virginia. A few days earlier, he won a straw poll at a candidate forum hosted by Liberty University’s College Republicans. He was also endorsed by a local right-wing group, Middle Resolution; among the group’s goals is fighting “further expansion of government into the healthcare arena.”
Youngkin also celebrated his endorsement by Oklahoma’s religious-right Gov. Kevin Stitt, who called Youngkin a “good Christian man and a great leader.” In a video making his endorsement, Stitt said, “Glenn won’t let the Democrats take away your guns or force taxpayers to fund abortion.”
In March, a Youngkin campaign ad featured comments by Trump in January 2020 thanking Youngkin for supporting Trump’s trade war with China.
In February, Youngkin told right-wing broadcaster Hugh Hewitt—who endorsed Youngkin over his Republican competitors—that he decided to run because Virginia is “in the ditch” and “in trouble.”