Republican candidate Winsome Sears, a Marine veteran and Jamaican immigrant, has triumphed in the Virginia lieutenant governor’s race, making her the first black woman to hold statewide office in the Old Dominion.
Sears bested Democrat Hala Ayala, a member of the Virginia House of Delegates, by a two-point margin with 95 percent of precincts reporting. Her victory, called by CNN early Wednesday morning, came as Republican Glenn Youngkin defeated former Democratic governor Terry McAuliffe despite entering the race as a significant underdog. Sears and Youngkin will serve together in the governor’s administration.
In the early morning at Youngkin campaign headquarters after the election results were all but finalized, Sears addressed the audience with gratitude and an optimistic message of unity for the state.
“I am at a loss for words, for the first time in my life…I’m here because you put your trust in me…What you are looking at is the American dream. I am not even a first generation American. When I joined the Marine corp I was still a Jamaican, but this country had done so much for me I was willing to die for this country,” she said.
“There are some who want to divide us and we must not let that happen. They would like us to believe that we are back in 1963 when my father came. Here I am, living proof. In case you haven’t noticed, I am black and I have been black all my life. But that’s not what this is about. What we are going to do is be about the business of the commonwealth,” Sears added.
— Mary Margaret Olohan (@MaryMargOlohan) November 3, 2021
A spokeswoman for the black community and equal opportunity, Sears is also a Second Amendment advocate. In April, she posted a photo of herself at a gun range on Twitter, citing the constitutional right of every American to bear arms and declaring her opposition to red flag laws, which make it easier for law enforcement to seize guns from individuals whose family members have reported them as mentally unstable.
“Marines know how to use guns and I won’t ever support a red flag law! The 2nd Amendment says ‘shall not be infringed!’” she wrote.
Down the ballot, the GOP showed strong performance in Virginia, with Republican candidate for Attorney General Jason Miyares also expected to beat Democratic incumbent Mark Herring, garnering 50.5 percent of the vote to his 49.5 percent, the New York Times reported.
The Virginia House of Delegates, which the Democrats had for years dominated with a ten seat majority, is now a toss-up, with the chamber split between the parties, both at 45 seats. The ten seats that are still undecided will determine the balance of power in Virginia’s legislature, which will share governing authority with the newly elected Republican administration.