Glenn Youngkin, a recently retired private equity CEO with a sizable personal fortune, is running for the Republican nomination to become Virginia’s next governor.
In a video announcement, Youngkin, 54, cast himself as an up-from-the-bootstraps businessman and political outsider.
“Virginia is being tested. What we need isn’t another politician — or worse, the same politician,” Youngkin said, taking a jab at former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat who is seeking another term.
“It’s going to take a conservative to stand up to bring a new day to Virginia. We’ve all been tested. It’s time for someone who’s been trusted.”
Youngkin recently retired as the CEO of the Carlyle Group, a global private equity firm based in Washington with $230 billion in assets. Youngkin had spent 25 years at the firm. He was named co-CEO in 2017 and took the company public during his tenure.
Rumors about a political career swirled when the company announced his retirement in July to pursue “public service activities.”
“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,” he said in the video announcement, which also featured his wife and four children.
Youngkin’s personal fortune is expected to play a significant role in the race. His net worth is estimated at more than $200 million according to published accounts, and in 2019, his compensation package at the Carlyle Group approached $17 million.
The impact of the candidate’s wealth likely will be tempered by the GOP’s proposed nomination method: a convention. In such a contest, party connections could mean more than multimarket ad spending.
Still, should Youngkin win the GOP nomination, his ability to fund advertising in multiple markets simultaneously could be a threat to any other candidate in a general election.
McAuliffe, who formally launched his campaign in December, raised nearly $6.2 million last year, far outpacing his Democratic and Republican rivals.
The other Democrats in the contest are former Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, state Sen. Jennifer McClellan, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax and Del. Lee Carter.
The other announced Republican candidates for governor are state Sen. Amanda Chase, former Speaker of the House Kirk Cox, former Pentagon official Sergio De La Peña and entrepreneur Pete Snyder.
Youngkin waded into public service in Virginia over the summer, when he and his wife, Suzanne, launched the Virginia Ready Initiative. The nonprofit, with the financial backing of 20 businesses from across the state, is offering $1,000 incentive payments to unemployed Virginians who complete short workplace training programs at a Virginia community college.
The training is done through the Virginia Community College System’s Fast Forward program, which offers six- to 12-week programs in high-demand fields such as medical and nursing assistance, IT support and construction skilled trades.
In a prepared statement, Youngkin sought to distinguish himself from opponents in both parties.
“As a homegrown Virginian, I can no longer sit on the sidelines and watch career politicians and insiders in Richmond turn our commonwealth into California or New York — a place where the cost of living for families is too high and the opportunities for all Virginians to get ahead are too few,” he said.
“I’m not a politician, and I certainly don’t have the 120 years of combined political baggage that my opponents have. They talk a lot about solving problems, but I’ve actually done it.”