Republican Lt. Gov.-elect Winsome Sears made history Tuesday night when she became the first African American woman in Virginia to win a statewide race.
With 95% of the precincts reporting. Ms. Sears, a former House of Delegates member and a former Marine, won 51.1% of the vote to Democrat Hala S. Ayala’s 48.7%.
The last election Ms. Sears won was 20 years ago in her Hamptons Road Assembly District. She previously made history as the first veteran Black Republican woman to serve in the House of Delegates.
She captured the lieutenant governor’s post on the GOP ticket led by Glenn Youngkin, a former private equity CEO, who also won the gubernatorial election.
Supporters of Ms. Sears at Mr. Youngkin’s campaign election night in Chantilly Tuesday say they were just as excited for Ms. Sears as they were for the rest of the ticket.
“I came here for Winsome Sears, she had our kickoff event in Middletown, Virginia, at the Wayside Inn and very excited for her obviously,” Middletown Mayor Charles Harbaugh IV told The Washington Times. “And the history that she’s making — first female lieutenant governor, first African American — all that stuff. I’m very excited for her.”
As a one-term lawmaker, she put forth a bill banning cross burning in Virginia to target groups like the KKK. But the Supreme Court decided in 2003 that the statute was only constitutional in instances when there is evidence the intent was to intimidate others.
She also pushed for reforms targeting 13 different “medically related boards.”
Following her decision to run for statewide office two decades after leaving politics, Ms. Sears was determined to bring in a larger Black and Latino coalition into the Republican Party.
“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 we are going to now be about the business of the commonwealth. We have things to attend to, we are going to fully fund our historically Black colleges and universities. You’re going to hear from your governor-elect,” Ms. Sears told a cheering crowd in Chantilly Tuesday night. “And he‘s got a Day One plan that I’m already tired about. I don’t know how we’re gonna make it to Day Two, but he‘s gonna make sure we keep more of our money in our pockets, because he‘s gonna get rid of all kinds of taxes.”
The night Ms. Sears won her nomination, she caused a stir on social media with a photo in which she is holding a semi-automatic rifle. She also wore full makeup, a green blazer, a white knee-length skirt with black polka dots and a white top.
Above her name is the phrase: “Battle Tested Conservative. Semper Fi.”
Ms. Sears caught criticism for the campaign poster from gun control advocates in, but she maintained that her support for the Second Amendment is another way to reach out to the Black community in the commonwealth.
She previously argued, “[Guns are] for our protection, and the fastest gun-owning segments [of the population] are Black women,” adding, “The only time that Black people are mentioned in the news, or you see Black people with a gun anywhere in print, is in relation to a crime.”