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Northam welcomes Gov.-elect Youngkin to Virginia Executive Mansion as transition planning gets underway

Virginia Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin (R), second from right, speaks to the media and is joined by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D), second from left, Suzanne Youngkin, right, and Pam Northam after a transition meeting outside the Executive Mansion in Richmond on Nov. 4, 2021. (Steve Helber/AP)
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RICHMOND — Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin (R) met with Gov. Ralph Northam (D) on Thursday in the Executive Mansion for a traditional orientation tour as the effort to plan the transition of power got underway.

Youngkin said on a conservative podcast Thursday that he has named former U.S. Treasury official Jeff Goettman to head his transition team. Youngkin’s campaign declined to comment further.

Goettman, like Youngkin, is a former private equity executive, though they did not work at the same firm. He served as chief operating officer of Youngkin’s campaign after having been a domestic finance counselor at the Treasury Department from 2019 to 2020. Before that, Goettman spent two years as chief operating officer of the Export-Import Bank of the United States.

Grandstands were already going up Thursday outside the Virginia Capitol in preparation for Youngkin’s Jan. 15 inauguration. He was assigned a transition office on Capitol Square.

Youngkin and his wife, Suzanne, spent about an hour touring the Executive Mansion with Northam and his wife, Pam. The couples, who had never met, shared a lunch of beef tenderloin, butternut squash-and-pumpkin soup and pumpkin pie.

Afterward, Northam, Youngkin and their wives stepped outside for brief remarks to news reporters. The Northams presented gifts to the Youngkins — an Executive Mansion challenge coin and a bouquet of flowers. The cheerful couples displayed none of the tensions of the hard-fought political campaign, in which Youngkin bested Democrat Terry McAuliffe on Tuesday by a little more than two percentage points. Northam, like all Virginia governors, is prohibited by the state constitution from seeking a second consecutive term.

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“We’ve just had a wonderful lunch,” Northam said, thanking the Youngkins for joining them and congratulating Glenn Youngkin on his victory.

“Welcome to your new home,” Northam said. “We talked about a number of things. . . . First of all, just our pride and the privilege of being able to be the 73rd governor and Mr. Youngkin the 74th governor of the commonwealth of Virginia.”

He pointed out that both of their wives are from Texas and joked that “probably the most important thing we talked about today” was a shared love of playing basketball. He said they had picked out a spot on the grounds to install a basketball hoop for Youngkin, who played at Rice University.

“We look forward to Mr. Youngkin and his wife taking over and continuing on a lot of the good progress that we’ve made,” Northam said.

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Youngkin was equally gracious, praising the lunch and expressing his awe at the prospect of living in this historic mansion, occupied by the state’s governors since 1813.

“To be welcome with such grace into this home is incredibly humbling for Suzanne and me,” Youngkin said. “You know I’m a homegrown Virginian, and to have a moment to stand here before this historic building, and to stand here and think about all of the many, many important decisions that have been made here, and the many people who have passed through these doors — it’s a bit humbling to be here today.”

Youngkin thanked Northam “for the incredibly cooperative way that you’ve expressed you’re going to help us. It’s important. We’ve got a lot of work to do. Day 1’s gonna come fast, and on Day 1 we need to go to work, so I just appreciate your willingness to be so helpful.”

Youngkin acknowledged the media and pledged to “continue to be incredibly open and accessible. . . . We’re going to have a lot to talk about because we’re going to be moving forward with real pace.”

He cast his meeting with the Northams as “the beginning of a friendship” and said it was important “to actually have someone who you can call and ask questions.” Youngkin has never held elective office, and many of his top advisers are Richmond outsiders.

Later Thursday, Attorney General-elect Jason S. Miyares (R) held a news conference in Richmond to announce his own transition team, which will be headed by former state attorney general Jerry W. Kilgore (R). He’ll be joined by former Republican governors George Allen, Jim Gilmore and Robert McDonnell, as well as several of the state’s other GOP attorneys general and leaders from law enforcement and community groups.

Miyares told reporters that he is in the early stages of planning but intends to “hit the ground running” with a slate of priorities for the General Assembly session that convenes in January. Like Youngkin, he takes office Jan. 15.

Among his top issues, Miyares mentioned creating a special office to handle reports of fraud against senior citizens, as well as seeking legislation that would make it easier for the state attorney general to step into a locality and handle prosecutions.

Current law allows local prosecutors to seek help from the state attorney general in handling criminal cases, but Miyares said he wants a new law to give his office more aggressive authority to step in.

“A bill that would essentially say if the chief law enforcement officer in a jurisdiction — either the chief of police or the sheriff — makes a request because a commonwealth’s attorney is not doing their job, then I’m going to do their job for them,” Miyares said. “And I’m thinking specifically of some of the so-called social-justice commonwealth’s attorneys that have been elected, particualry in Northern Virginia.”

Miyares, who has accused prosecutors in Fairfax and Loudoun counties of mishandling child sex abuse and domestic violence cases, said Youngkin has committed to sign such a bill if it is passed by the legislature.

He also said he intends to investigate Loudoun County Public Schools and the district’s handling of rape allegations at two high schools.

Laura Vozzella contributed to this report.