Glenn Youngkin, the multimillionaire businessman who sought to cast himself as a political outsider with the best chance to challenge Democratic power, will represent Republicans in the race to become Virginia’s next governor.
Youngkin, 54, prevailed Monday night as entrepreneur Pete Snyder, his final rival for the nomination, conceded during the sixth round of vote counting.
Youngkin was a late entrant in the campaign with little name recognition in the tight-knit Virginia GOP, which tasked a relatively small number of party loyalists to choose its nominee in a convention.
Fueled by his own fortune, Youngkin, former co-CEO of a global investment firm, used the biggest war chest in the race, a limited public record and in-person campaigning to overcome tough odds. He will become the face of the state party as it heads into a pivotal November election, when the GOP will try to end its banishment from the Executive Mansion since Bob McDonnell left office in 2014.
Youngkin prevailed in what became a close match-up against Snyder and Sen. Amanda Chase of Chesterfield. The crowded race also included former House Speaker Kirk Cox of Colonial Heights, whose fourth-place finish marked the likely end of his 30-year political career.
Snyder said in a statement: “While we certainly would have preferred a win tonight, I want to congratulate Glenn Youngkin, his family and his team on a tremendous race and a deserved win. He and the entire Republican ticket will have my full support.”
Also in the running in earlier rounds were Pentagon official Sergio de la Peña, former think-tank CEO Peter Doran and former Roanoke Sheriff Octavia Johnson, who together attracted about 7% of the vote.
The defeat of Chase, who has clashed with her party’s establishment and calls herself “Trump in heels,” came one round after Cox was eliminated.
Youngkin, former co-CEO of The Carlyle Group, led with 42.3% of the weighted vote tally after the first four rounds, followed by entrepreneur Snyder with 32.5% and Chase with 25.2%. A candidate needs to secure more than 50% of the weighted tally to win the party’s nomination.
Seven candidates sought the party’s nomination for governor in Saturday’s “unassembled convention” that featured voting at 39 polling places around the state.
In the first round, before any votes were reallocated, Youngkin and Snyder dominated the voting in the state’s biggest localities. While Youngkin carried Fairfax County and Virginia Beach handily, they tied for the lead in Loudoun County. Youngkin edged Snyder in Prince William County and the city of Chesapeake.
Youngkin easily carried Henrico County in a blow to Cox and Chase. Cox edged Chase to carry Chesterfield County and Chase led the field in Hanover County.
In a state-run primary, Youngkin would have been declared the winner in the first round.
Delegates who voted in Saturday’s convention ranked the party’s seven candidates for governor, six for lieutenant governor and four for attorney general in order of preference. Counters at the hotel on Broad Street tabulated results for attorney general Sunday and continued Monday with the contest for governor. The party turns Tuesday to counting ballots in the nomination contest for lieutenant governor.
As counters tally the votes, the candidate with the fewest votes in each round is eliminated. The second choices of delegates who preferred the eliminated candidate are then distributed among the remaining hopefuls. The process continues until a candidate tops 50%.
Votes in the GOP contests are weighted to reward local units with high GOP turnout in the most recent presidential and gubernatorial election. While 54,000 delegates signed up to participate Saturday and more than 30,000 cast ballots, the party allocated a total of 12,554 votes to party units representing counties and cities around the state. In some cases a county had hundreds more delegates than allotted votes, so their votes were apportioned as fractions of the locality’s total.
In the first round, Youngkin piled up wins from Southwest to Southside and the Shenandoah Valley.
Snyder edged Youngkin on the first ballot in a string of counties beyond Northern Virginia’s inner suburbs, including Fauquier, Culpeper, Stafford and Spotsylvania.
Chase won on the first ballot in a number of rural counties, from Highland to Henry, Botetourt to Buckingham, King George to King & Queen.
De la Peña won one county: Patrick.
Cox had hoped to gain in subsequent rounds by appealing to become the second choice of delegates who backed other candidates as their first choice, a strategy that ultimately did not prove successful.
Democrats will nominate one of five candidates for governor in a June 8 primary. Recent polls show former Gov. Terry McAuliffe far out in front of the Democratic field. McAuliffe already is trying to tie Youngkin to former President Donald Trump.
“For the past year, Virginians have witnessed Republican candidates fawn all over Donald Trump, parrot his dangerous and racist rhetoric, and fully embrace his extreme, right-wing agenda,” McAuliffe said in a statement Monday night.
“Now, Glenn Youngkin has paid enough to purchase the Republican gubernatorial nomination so he can run Donald Trump’s dangerous playbook here in Virginia.”