Republican Glenn Youngkin was sworn in as Virginia’s 74th governor on Saturday at the Virginia State Capitol in Richmond.
Youngkin is the first Republican governor of the state in nearly a decade.
“We celebrate the sound of freedom,” Youngkin opened in his inaugural address as crowds chanted, “USA, USA, USA.”
Gov. Youngkin pressed his support of parental rights in schools, a key aspect of his campaign last fall.
He urged that parents should have a say in their child’s education because “parents have a fundamental right to make decisions with regard to their child’s upbringing, education, and care.”
“Parents should have a say in what is taught in schools,” Youngkin told the large crowd. “To parents, I say we respect you, and we will empower you in the education of your children.”
Shortly after his address, the governor signed nine executive orders and two directives, banning critical race theory in public schools, eliminating vaccine mandates for state employees, cutting job-killing regulations by 25 percent, and launching an investigation into the alleged sexual assault coverups and wrong doings by school boards in Loudoun County.
He also plans to lift mask mandates in schools.
Republicans Winsome Sears and Jason Miyares also made history as they took the oath of office. Sears is the first black female to become the state’s lieutenant governor, and Miyares is the first latino elected to statewide office.
Republicans also secured a crushing 60-40 majority in the Virginia House of Delegates.
Gov. Youngkin ascended to the governorship after delivering a shocking defeat to Democrat former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who many expected to easily win and succeed outgoing Democrat Gov. Ralph Northam.
The Trump-endorsed Youngkin defeated McAuliffe by 63,000 votes (50.6 percent to 48.6 percent) in a state Joe Biden won by more than 10 points in 2020.
Education became one of the most important issues on the campaign trail, as Critical Race Theory (CRT) and explicit learning materials swept classrooms without the consent of parents.
As parents objected to schools teaching CRT and assigning sexually explicit readings to their children, the National School Board (NSB) sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland asking him to go after and arrest these concerned parents, even referring to them as “domestic terrorists.”
As tensions ran high, McAuliffe proudly proclaimed at the second gubernatorial debate that he vetoed a bill as governor that would have required schools to tell parents about sexually explicit materials being assigned to their children.
“I’m not going to let parents come into schools and actually take books out and make their own decision,” said McAuliffe. “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”
Parents turned to Youngkin, who lambasted McAuliffe’s comments. Youngkin pledged to return parental rights to the classroom and give parents a say in what is taught. He also vowed to ban critical race theory from the school system.
McAuliffe, who tied himself to Biden and Kamala Harris, lost handily to Youngkin, which many viewed as a referendum on the Biden administration that grows increasingly more unpopular each day. Biden’s RealClearPolitics approval rating, which was 43 percent on Virginia’s Election Day, was 41 percent on Friday.
Youngkin is the 28th Republican governor of Virginia. He will surely be a strong advocate against federal overreach, especially in regard to backpedaling Covid-19 restrictions and CRT.