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Former private equity executive launches bid for Virginia governor

Former private equity executive launches bid for Virginia governor
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Glenn Youngkin, a wealthy former private equity CEO, joined the increasingly crowded field of candidates for Virginia governor on Wednesday. 

In an announcement video posted online, Youngkin, a first-time candidate, cast himself as a political outsider with modest roots. 

“I’m not a politician. I’ve spent the last 30 years building business and creating jobs, leading a team of nearly 2,000 people who trusted me to get things done,” Youngkin, 54, said in the video.

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In launching his campaign, Youngkin joins four other candidates seeking the GOP’s gubernatorial nomination in Virginia. The Democratic side has also drawn five contenders, including former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), who’s seeking a second term in the governor’s mansion. 

Virginia’s current governor, Ralph Northam (D), cannot run for a second term under a state law barring governors from serving out two consecutive terms.

Youngkin, who retired last year as the CEO of the private equity firm Carlyle Group, brings with his candidacy an enormous fortune that could come into play during his campaign. 

But the Virginia Republican Party is expected to choose its nominee for governor in a convention rather than through a primary vote. That proposition could water-down the influence of Youngkin’s money in the race, given that political connections could be given more sway in the process.

Still, Youngkin’s fortune could come in handy in a general election. McAuliffe has so far emerged as the top fundraiser on both sides of the aisle, pulling in nearly $6.2 million last year.

But Youngkin appears poised to talk up his business experience and outsider status on the campaign trail. In a tweet on Tuesday, he knocked his opponents with previous experience in elected office as ineffective leaders with decades of “combined political baggage.”

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“I’m not a politician. I certainly don’t have the 120 years of combined political baggage that my opponents have,” Youngkin tweeted. “They talk a lot about solving problems, but I’ve actually done it. I spent the last 30 years building business, creating jobs, & bringing people together to succeed.”

Virginia, once a Republican stronghold, has lurched toward Democrats in recent years. McAuliffe won the governor’s mansion in 2013 by a scant margin of 2.5 percentage points, while Northam went on to win by nearly 9 points in 2017. 

Likewise, former President Obama carried Virginia in 2012 by just 3 points. In 2020, however, President BidenJoe BidenBiden administration still seizing land near border despite plans to stop building wall: report Olympics, climate on the agenda for Biden meeting with Japanese PM Boehner on Afghanistan: 'It's time to pull out the troops' MORE won the state by more than 10 points.