Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin walks on stage to thank supporters before giving a victory speech at the Westfields Marriott Hotel in Chantilly, Va., early Wednesday. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo
Nov. 3 (UPI) -- Republican businessman Glenn Youngkin was projected to defeat Democrat Terry McAuliffe in a tight gubernatorial race in Virginia early Wednesday.
The election in Virginia, one of several races held nationwide Tuesday, was projected in Youngkin's favor by multiple news outlets.
The Virginia Department of Elections said early Wednesday that Youngkin had almost 51% of the vote to McAuliffe's 48.5%.
"Alrighty, Virginia! We won this thing!" Youngkin yelled during a victory speech. "Together, together we will change the trajectory of this commonwealth. And friends, we're going to start that transformation on day one.
"There is no time to waste. Our kids can't wait. We work in real-people time, not government time."
McAuliffe, who was Virginia's governor from 2014 to 2018, has not yet conceded and told supporters that his campaign would wait for every vote to be counted.
"We are going to continue to count the votes because every single Virginian deserves to have their vote counted," he said.
Of the contests held Tuesday, the Virginia race was one of the most-watched, as Virginia has historically served as a proving ground for the opposition to the party that holds the presidency.
Supporters of Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin pose for a photo on Tuesday night at the Westfields Marriott Hotel
in Chantilly, Va. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI
The governor's office was up for grabs as Democrat Ralph Northam was ineligible to run for a third consecutive term, and the Democrats came out in force in support of their candidate.
President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and former President Barack Obama stumped for McAuliffe and attacked Youngkin by describing him as a Donald Trump wannabe, despite his efforts to distance himself from the former Republican president.
In a statement published as the results were coming in, Trump boasted that he didn't have to hold rallies for Youngkin in order for the Republican to win the governorship.
"It is looking like Terry McAuliffe's campaign against a certain person named 'Trump' has very much helped Glenn Youngkin," Trump said. "Thank you to the [Make America Great Again] voters for turning out big!"
Youngkin focused his campaign on banning critical race theory, an academic and legal concept discussing systemic racism that is not part of Virginia's elementary and high school curriculum, and in his victory speech Wednesday he vowed to "restore excellence in our schools."
"We're going to introduce choice within our public school system. How about that -- choice within the school system?" he said. "We're going to press forward with a curriculum that includes listening to parents' input, a curriculum that allows our children to run as fast as they can, teaching them how to think, enabling their dreams to soar."
Also Tuesday, Democrat Eric Adams was projected to succeed Bill de Blasio as New York City mayor and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy remains in a tight contest with Republican Jack Ciattarelli.