RICHMOND, Va. (AP) \u2014 Business news network CNBC named Virginia this year's \u201cTop State for Business\u201d on Tuesday, welcome news for Democrats who control state government and are defending their record during a critical election year.\r\n\r\nWith previous wins in 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2019,\u00a0<a href="https:\/\/www.cnbc.com\/2021\/07\/13\/virginia-is-back-as-americas-top-state-for-business.html">Virginia\u00a0<\/a>surpassed Texas for most years at the top of the ranking since CNBC debuted it in 2007, Gov. Ralph Northam's office said in a news release. CNBC did not publish the rankings in 2020 because of the pandemic.\r\n\r\n\u201cI could not be prouder of what this says about the inclusive, common-sense policies that we have put in place and how they encourage business investment,\u201d Northam said, speaking at a news conference at the Port of Virginia with other Democratic elected officials.\r\n\r\nThe network's\u00a0<a href="https:\/\/www.cnbc.com\/2021\/06\/17\/how-we-chose-americas-top-states-for-business-in-2021.html">methodology\u00a0<\/a>scores the states in ten categories including infrastructure, workforce and education, \u201cweighted based on how frequently the states cite them in their economic development marketing pitches.\u201d In a new category called \u201cLife, Health and Inclusion,\u201d Virginia earned points for voting rights and anti-discrimination laws, areas that have seen sweeping change since Democrats took full control of state government in 2019.\r\n\r\nThe General Assembly has passed reams of progressive legislation, reshaping a once reliably conservative state into an\u00a0<a href="https:\/\/apnews.com\/article\/55cdfed8d8f1bf661bc94f860a522fd7">outlier\u00a0<\/a>in the South. Among those measures are an\u00a0<a href="https:\/\/apnews.com\/article\/ab13025e903eb16558bd2f305584be93">anti-discrimination law<\/a>\u00a0that added protections for LGBTQ people and\u00a0<a href="https:\/\/apnews.com\/article\/legislature-bills-voting-rights-legislation-elections-0212f8b6b44fbef8088b3bba8d9fd317">changes\u00a0<\/a>to voting access, including a massive expansion of early voting and the repeal of a voter ID law.\r\n\r\nCNBC noted that Virginia\u2019s worst category was cost of living, where it finished 32nd in the nation. And it was 26th in the cost of doing business category, hurt by the 11th-highest wage costs in the nation, CNBC reported.\r\n\r\nIn this year's competitive race for governor, a\u00a0<a href="https:\/\/apnews.com\/article\/election-2020-donald-trump-politics-virginia-richmond-2455fac59aeadb4ff06f08d7bf42fc11">rare\u00a0<\/a>off-year election drawing outsized national attention, jobs and the economy have been a central issue.\r\n\r\nFormer Gov. Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic nominee, is facing Republican Glenn Youngkin, a former co-CEO of\u00a0<a href="https:\/\/apnews.com\/article\/business-government-and-politics-3d9c44e6259ed72915de4e7188be5c8e">private equity<\/a>\u00a0firm The Carlyle Group.\r\n\r\nThe two have offered starkly different perspectives on the state of Virginia's economy, with Youngkin often arguing that Democrats have driven Virginia into \u201ca ditch\u201d and that the commonwealth hasn't recovered from the pandemic as well as some of its peer states.\r\n\r\nIn a statement, Youngkin spokesman Matt Wolking emphasized Virginia\u2019s two lowest rankings in the methodology, saying: \u201cVirginia may be #1 for political correctness, pushing critical race theory in schools, and not requiring a photo ID to vote under Terry McAuliffe and Ralph Northam, but Virginia ranks among the worst states when it comes to things that actually determine the success of small businesses and opportunities for workers.\u201d\r\n\r\nMcAuliffe, who was previously in office from 2014 to 2018, said in a statement that Youngkin's \u201cright-wing agenda\u201d would put all of Virginia's \u201cprogress at risk.\u201d\r\n\r\n\u201cHis focus on divisive social crusades, Trumpian conspiracy theories, and threats to defund our schools would jeopardize our economic progress and take our Commonwealth back,\u201d McAuliffe said.\r\n\r\nNortham, who cannot seek a second consecutive term under state law, said in an interview that Youngkin\u2019s repeated assertion that Democrats have driven Virginia into a ditch show he\u2019s either out of touch with reality or being untruthful.\r\n\r\n\u201cWhat I would encourage him to say is, \u2018Congratulations, Virginia, for a job well done,\u2019\u201d Northam said.\r\n\r\nControl of the House of Delegates is\u00a0<a href="https:\/\/apnews.com\/article\/house-elections-488803d8f454c78f703c35baa14e1d64">also up for grabs<\/a>\u00a0in November, with all 100 seats on the ballot.\r\n\r\nRepublican legislative leaders said Tuesday they remained concerned about the impact of Democrats' policies, including\u00a0<a href="https:\/\/apnews.com\/article\/cddda59df1d16ec02435f1a3e8e898a7">a major clean energy bill<\/a>, on Virginia's economy in the long term.\r\n\r\n\u201cOur ranking from CNBC reflects where Virginia has been, not necessarily where it's going,\u201d Senate Republican Leader Tommy Norment said in a statement.