Republicans have not won a statewide election in Virginia since 2009, a reflection of the state’s changing demographics as well as the party’s tendency in recent years to nominate candidates who fanned divisive social issues, rather than appealed to suburban voters on kitchen-table priorities.
The thumping that Mr. Northam administered to his Republican rival in 2017 was both a rejection of Mr. Trump and a catalyst in further pushing Virginia, a once-purple state, out of the Republican orbit. Mr. Trump lost Virginia by 10 percentage points in November.
Still, Republicans believe they have a better chance of winning statewide this year than at any time in the last decade, after Democrats, who took full control in Richmond in 2020, passed sweeping liberal legislation on gun restrictions, raising the minimum wage and other issues.
Mr. Youngkin, 54, was raised in Virginia Beach and has lived in Northern Virginia for 25 years. Besides defeating Mr. Snyder, a technology entrepreneur, he also outlasted State Senator Amanda Chase, who was censured in a bipartisan vote of the state’s General Assembly for calling the rioters at the Capitol on Jan. 6 “patriots.”
Supporters of Ms. Chase accused Snyder partisans in the state party of rejecting a primary and engineering Saturday’s “disassembled convention” to hurt her chances. Ms. Chase had said that if he became the nominee, she would run as an independent. There is no indication she intends to do that with Mr. Youngkin heading the party’s ticket, which will also include nominees for lieutenant governor and attorney general.
Many G.O.P. insiders heaved a sigh of relief that the nomination for governor was not won by Ms. Chase, believing that her general-election candidacy would have been likely to go down in flames given how deeply unpopular Mr. Trump is in Virginia.
Mr. Youngkin’s appeal to Republicans was at least twofold: He is a political blank slate, with no record in elected office for Democrats to attack. And his private wealth — reportedly more than $200 million after he retired as co-chief executive of the Carlyle Group — will allow him to compete financially against Mr. McAuliffe, a prolific fund-raiser. Mr. McAuliffe raised $36 million for his 2013 election and over $9.9 million during the past two years, according to the Virginia Access Project. Mr. Youngkin has already spent $5.5 million of his own money since entering the race in late January.