Youngkin, a former co-CEO of the private equity firm the Carlyle Group, has never held elected office before. He won in November’s gubernatorial election against Democrat Terry McAuliffe while keeping former President Donald Trump at arm’s length and appealing to the Republican base by centering so-called election integrity, criticizing how the impact of racism is taught in public schools and emphasizing protecting qualified immunity for law enforcement officers.
The theme of Youngkin’s inauguration is “Strengthen the Spirit of Virginia Together.” Several receptions will take place prior to the inaugural ceremony at the state Capitol in Richmond. Some of those events include a prayer breakfast, a dinner at the Science Museum of Virginia and a women’s tea hosted by incoming Virginia first lady Suzanne Youngkin. A parade will immediately follow the swearing-in ceremony where parade participants will march through Capitol Square.
“The theme for inauguration weekend celebrates Virginia’s spirit—one linked to a rich history, but an even more exciting future as Virginians come together to make Virginia the best place to live, work, and raise a family,” the Governor-elect and incoming first lady said.
His predecessor, Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam, declared a state of emergency on Friday in anticipation of a storm expected to hit the state this weekend. Youngkin spokesperson Macaulay Porter said the governor-elect has received briefings from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management and “is actively coordinating with them on procedures for the incoming weather.”
Youngkin, who will be the Commonwealth’s 74th governor, faces a number of other immediate challenges after he takes the oath of office, including guiding the state through the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and figuring out how to best mitigate record inflation. He plans to move forward with a host of pandemic-related executive actions including repealing the vaccine mandate for state workers and mask requirements set in place by Northam. The Virginia Department of Health currently requires masking in K-12 schools and on public transportation.
During the campaign, the 55-year-old ran on a “Day One” game plan that included eliminating Virginia’s grocery tax, firing the parole board and creating new charter schools among other pledges.
The Governor-elect has spent the last several weeks announcing key roles in his administration. Among the most high-profile picks includes Andrew Wheeler, the former Environmental Protection Agency administrator under the Trump administration, for natural resources secretary. Wheeler has already met resistance from Virginia Democrats.
Youngkin’s victory in November marked a dramatic shift in fortune for Virginia Republicans, just a year after President Joe Biden won the state by 10 points. The party will now have control over the governor’s mansion, the lieutenant governor’s office, the attorney general’s office and the House of Delegates. Republicans across the country may try to replicate his campaign strategy of tepidly distancing themselves from Trump in the 2022 midterm elections. He received praise in November at the Republican Governors Association meeting for his ability to win a heavily Democratic state by focusing on education and public safety. Republicans are defending 20 governorships this year and hope to make progress in blue states.