RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Republican Virginia Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin met with outgoing Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam on Thursday for a lunch with their wives at the executive mansion in Richmond, and in cordial remarks afterward both pledged a smooth transition of power.
“Today was the beginning of a friendship,” said Youngkin, who defeated Democratic nominee and former Gov. Terry McAuliffe this week in an election that also saw a wave of Republican victories in down-ballot races.
Youngkin, a native Virginian, said he was humbled to stand in front of the historic governor's mansion. In brief remarks to the news media, he thanked Northam for hosting what he called “a lovely lunch."
“I just want to thank you for the incredibly cooperative way that you've, of course, expressed you’re going to help us,” Youngkin said. “It’s important. We have a lot of work to do.”
Youngkin, who selectively engaged with reporters while campaigning, pledged to be “incredibly open and accessible" while in office.
Northam called the luncheon — where staffers said the couples dined on beef tenderloin, butternut-pumpkin soup and pumpkin pie — an opportunity to congratulate Youngkin on a successful campaign and welcome the couple to their new home.
“We look forward to Mr. Youngkin and his wife taking over and continuing on a lot of the good progress that we made," said Northam, who was barred by state law from seeking a second consecutive term.
Northam said he and Youngkin found common ground in a shared hobby, basketball. He joked that Youngkin, a former collegiate player, progressed much further in the sport than he had, and added, “We have picked out the perfect place for a basketball goal behind the mansion.”
Youngkin will be sworn in Jan. 15. Preparations for Inauguration Day are already underway on the Capitol grounds.
Republican Jason Miyares, who defeated Attorney General Mark Herring, was also in the capital city Thursday for a news conference, where he outlined what he said would be his top priorities.
Miyares, currently a member of the state House, promised a focus on “public safety and law enforcement," as well as protecting seniors and going after human traffickers, particularly on the Interstate 95 and 81 corridors.
He also pledged to investigate the Loudoun County public school system, which has been facing community outrage over the case of a student who allegedly committed sex crimes at two area schools.
When asked whether he would make any changes to the Office of Civil Rights, which Herring created earlier this year, Miyares said he needed to get a sense of how it operates before making any decisions.
Associated Press writer Ben Finley in Norfolk, Virginia, contributed to this report.
Sarah Rankin, The Associated Press