VIRGINIA, USA — Polls are closed and the results are coming in for the Virginia Democratic primaries. At the top of the bill, former Governor Terry McAuliffe will be the Democratic candidate for governor in the November election.
McAuliffe, 64, served as Virginia's governor from 2014 to 2018. Because governors cannot serve back-to-back terms, McAuliffe wasn't involved in the 2017 election.
ELECTION RESULTS: Click here for results of the Democratic primary
However, he stepped back into the ring this year and on Tuesday easily won the Democratic primary.
Now, he will be going up against Glenn Youngkin, who secured the Republican nomination last month.
"The road is going to be tough, long. and the remnants of COVID-19 are going to be with us for a long time," McAuliffe told supporters during his victory speech Tuesday night. "We must build back a better, stronger Virginia."
In his speech, McAuliffe also spent a lot of time taking shots at Youngkin, mostly for his endorsement by former President Donald J. Trump.
"Glenn Youngkin is running for governor because of Donald Trump, and I am running for Governor because of you," he said.
According to McAuliffe's campaign website, if he's elected he plans to uphold civil and voting rights, bring new businesses to Virginia, make an effort to develop a "clean energy economy," and invest $2 billion a year in education funds in an effort to raise teacher pay.
He also wants to tackle the affordable housing crisis in our communities, and ensure a world-class education for every child in Virginia.
He delivered a stern warning to pharmaceutical companies, as he promised to reduce health care costs for people in the Commonwealth.
"My message to pharmaceutical companies: If you come to Virginia, I will not tolerate you ripping off a single Virginian," he said Tuesday.
McAuliffe also pledged to work to accelerate Virginia’s minimum wage increase to $15 by 2024, protect abortion access, and ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
He earned the endorsement of Gov. Ralph Northam, who said McAuliffe was best suited to lead Virginia out of the economic recovery from the pandemic and cement the transformational changes Democrats have implemented since taking full control of state government in the 2019 elections.
"We are a different state than we were eight years ago," said McAuliffe. "And we are not looking back."
McAuliffe also far out-fundraised the other candidates: state Sen. Jennifer McClellan, former Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, and Del. Lee Carter. From the jump, he had the backing of a substantial number of elected officials across the commonwealth, including many powerful Black lawmakers.
He drew criticism from some more progressive voters who criticized his record on energy and criminal justice issues and who saw him as standing in the way of Carroll Foy and McClellan, who were each trying to become the nation’s first Black woman governor.
Virginia is the only state in the nation with an open race for governor this year, and the contest is expected to be a closely watched barometer of voter sentiment heading into the midterm elections.
Republicans have not won a statewide race in Virginia in over a decade.
The general election between McAuliffe and Youngkin will be on November 2.
To see the election results from Tuesday, click here.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.