Glenn Youngkin: What to know about the GOP Virginia governor candidate

Youngkin spent over two decades in private equity industry amassing a reported $300 million fortune

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Republican Glenn Youngkin, a wealthy 54-year-old Virginia former private equity executive, married father of four, and political newcomer is on the ballot to be Virginia's next governor on Nov. 2.

Youngkin was born in Richmond, Virginia, in 1966 to father Caroll Youngkin, an accountant and star basketball player at Duke University, and mother Ellis Youngkin, a teacher, author and nursing Ph.D. Youngkin grew up in Richmond and Virginia Beach and was the star of his Norfolk High basketball team before graduating high school in 1985 and enrolling at Houston’s Rice University, where he studied engineering and played four years of Division 1 basketball.

Virginia gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin speaks during a campaign event in McLean, Virginia, July 14, 2021. 

Virginia gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin speaks during a campaign event in McLean, Virginia, July 14, 2021.  (REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein/File Photo)

After graduating from Rice, Youngkin moved on to Harvard Business School, where he earned a master's degree in business in 1994.

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Shortly before heading to Harvard, Youngkin was introduced to his current wife, Suzanne, whom he married shortly after graduating and shares four children with.

Youngkin has said that his Christian faith is an integral part of his marriage and credits Suzanne for inspiring him to focus on religion when they first met.

"She actually said, you know, ‘I really need to have our faith be in the middle of our marriage,’" Youngkin said. "I didn’t really fully appreciate the journey she was going to put me on."

Following his studies and a brief stint at First Boston investment bank and McKinsey & Co., Youngkin got his start as an analyst at the global investment firm Carlyle Group and worked there for over two decades while rising to the posts of the CFO, COO, president and co-CEO at various times. 

Youngkin arrived at Carlyle in 1995 during a time when the company had a handful of employees. He described it as a "small start-up." During his 25 years there, the company exploded and became a world-renowned private equity firm, helping him amass a personal fortune of over $300 million, according to the Washington Post.

President Biden campaigns with Democratic gubernatorial candidate, former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe at Virginia Highlands Park on Oct. 26, 2021, in Arlington, Virginia. 

President Biden campaigns with Democratic gubernatorial candidate, former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe at Virginia Highlands Park on Oct. 26, 2021, in Arlington, Virginia.  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Youngkin was reportedly well liked by company leadership, as he served in many different roles at the firm and was elected a partner after only four years. Youngkin worked in London from 1999-2005 and set up offices across Europe before returning to Washington, D.C,. and leading a Carlyle department that made industrial investments.

In 2008, Youngkin shifted to the management side of the firm, where he served as the interim chief financial officer and chief operating officer in charge of managing investments made during the financial crisis.

When three founders stepped back from the company in 2017, Youngkin was named co-CEO.

Youngkin retired in 2020 and founded, along with his wife, the nonprofit Virginia Ready Initiative. 

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"From his life experiences, Glenn has developed the skills and character to lead Virginia with humility and courage," Youngkin’s website reads. "He has the know-how to get Virginia moving again and rebuild it into the best place to live, work and raise a family in America."

Youngkin entered the race for Virginia governor in January 2021, announcing that he would seek the Republican nomination. In May, Youngkin won the nomination at the state GOP convention and received the endorsement of former President Trump, whom he has openly supported, shortly after.

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Youngkin has run on a platform of lowering the cost of living by cutting taxes, opposing efforts to defund the police amid rising crime, ramping up the state’s economic recovery from the coronavirus, rejecting coronavirus restrictions and vaccine mandates, and promoting school choice.

McAuliffe has attempted to link Youngkin with Trump, who remains popular with Republicans but unpopular with Democrats in the state, and dismissed the Virginia businessman as a "wannabe" Trump during a debate. Additionally, President Biden was in Arlington, Virginia, during the week leading up to the election and on stage at a rally in support of McAuliffe claimed that Youngkin was a Trump "acolyte."

Youngkin has focused in recent days on McAuliffe’s positions on education and has pointed to controversial comments from the former governor, including a statement in a debate where he said parents should not "be telling schools what they should teach." He has argued that education issues have shifted the race from a partisan debate to a practical one.

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The hotly debated critical race theory, which has permeated classrooms and corporations nationwide promoting the idea that the United States is inherently racist, has also exposed a stark contrast between the two candidates. 

In this Oct. 11, 2021, file photo Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin talks to supporters during a meet and greet at a sports bar in Chesapeake, Virginia. 

In this Oct. 11, 2021, file photo Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin talks to supporters during a meet and greet at a sports bar in Chesapeake, Virginia.  (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

McAuliffe has insisted that the controversial teaching, which has been spotted in Virginia schools and denounced by upset parents at local school board meetings, is "made up" and amounts to a racist "dog whistle."

Youngkin has vowed to ban the curriculum. "America has fabulous chapters, and it's the greatest country in the world, but we also have some abhorrent chapters in our history, we must teach them," he said. But the gubernatorial hopeful added that he will not allow children in schools "to view everything through a lens of race."