Glenn Youngkin (R), who defeated former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) last November in a race that attracted national attention, was sworn in as Virginia's 74th governor around noon Saturday.
"Today we gather not as individuals," Youngkin said at the beginning of his inaugural address, before being almost immediately interrupted a military flyover. "And we celebrate the sound of freedom!" he added after the two jets had passed.
Youngkin, a former CEO of private equity firm the Carlyle Group, went on to thank outgoing Gov. Ralph Northam (D) for his cooperation in the transition, and to tout his own flagship education policies. "We will remove politics from the classroom," he said. "We must keep our children in school 5 days a week. ... To parents, I say we respect you, and we will empower you in the education of your children," Youngkin continued, clad in a voluminous cravat, with a large white flower on his lapel.
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During the campaign, McAuliffe suffered greatly in the polls for saying during a debate with Youngkin that parents shouldn't "be telling schools what they should teach." That gaffe, along with a wave of contentious school board meetings in Virginia's Loudoun County, poured fuel on a fierce national debate over use of critical race theory and teaching around sex and gender in American schools.
In an election that became a referendum on the Biden administration and the culture war, Youngkin kept plenty of distance between himself and former President Donald Trump, a decision that enabled him to make inroads in Northern Virginia's wealthy blue suburbs.
Youngkin takes office with a divided state government: Democrats hold a 3-seat majority in the Senate, while Republicans control the Assembly 52 to 48. Winsome Sears (R) was also sworn in as Virginia's lieutenant governor, becoming the first woman of color to hold that office. Jason Miyares, also a Republican, took office as the commonwealth's first Hispanic attorney general.
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