FILE - VA Gov. Ralph Northam, former VA Gov. Terry McAuliffe

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (left) listens as his predecessor, Terry McAuliffe, speaks.

(The Center Square) – Terry McAuliffe, a former Virginia governor and businessman, will be the Democratic nominee in the state’s 2021 gubernatorial election.

With about three-fourths of the votes tallied as of 9 p.m. Tuesday, McAuliffe won about 62% of the primary vote. McAuliffe ran on his record as governor and labeled himself a pro-business Democrat. During the primary process, he faced some challenges from the more progressive wing of the party that accused him of being too friendly to the wealthy.

In a Tweet, McAuliffe thanked his supporters and called to move Virginia forward.

“We launched this campaign six months ago on a simple idea: Virginia has big challenges ahead, and it's going to take big, bold ideas and experienced leadership to move us forward and lift everyone up,” McAuliffe said in a Twitter thread. “I am running for governor: To create great paying jobs. To reduce health care costs. To build the best education system in the country.”

Former Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy landed in second place without about 20% of the vote and Sen. Jennifer McClellan secured about 11% of the vote. The other two candidates, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax and Del. Lee Carter, failed to break 4%.

Republicans chose their candidates for statewide races through a convention process last month. McAuliffe will run against Republican nominee Glenn Youngkin who is also a wealthy businessman. He has pledged to never raise taxes and accused Democratic policies of driving away businesses.

Rich Anderson, the Virginia Republican Party chairman, said in a statement that Virginians need a leader with fresh thinking to kickstart the economy: Youngkin.

“Despite the longest early voting period ever, no photo identification requirements, and near-universal vote-by-mail, Democrats across the Commonwealth are fretting about low turnout,” Anderson said. “It’s safe to say that Republicans are the most excited group in Virginia for Terry McAuliffe’s primary win. Virginia Democrats have nominated a career politician with a record of broken promises, who is intent on dividing our Commonwealth. Eight years ago, then-Governor Terry McAuliffe spearheaded the leftist liberal policies that have made Virginians less safe, made Virginia more expensive to raise a family, and squashed economic opportunity.”

Incumbent Attorney General Mark Herring successfully fought off a challenger to secure his party’s nomination to keep his seat. The attorney general secured more than 55% of the vote with his challenger, Del. Jay Jones, securing less than 45%.

Herring will run against Republican Del. Jason Miyares, a former federal prosecutor.

Former Del. Hala Ayala won the lieutenant governor nomination for the Democratic Party. She earned about 39% of the vote and was followed by Del. Sam Rasoul who earned about 25% of the vote. Ayala was endorsed by McAuliffe. 

Ayala will face Republican nominee former Del. Winsome Sears.

The general election will be Nov. 2.

Staff Reporter

Tyler Arnold reports on Virginia and West Virginia for The Center Square. He previously worked for the Cause of Action Institute and has been published in Business Insider, USA TODAY College, National Review Online and the Washington Free Beacon.