- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 9, 2021

Virginia GOP lieutenant governor candidate Winsome Sears fired her six-person campaign staff on Wednesday, less than two months before Election Day.

The GOP consulting firm Creative Direct, which has been working with the Sears team for weeks, will run the candidate’s campaign in its final stretch.

The staffers who were let go were not given an explanation for the terminations, a former staffer told The Hill newspaper, but the candidate herself downplayed the shakeup in an interview late Wednesday, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

“Campaigns retool all the time,” Sears said. “We’re trying to be more lean and that’s it. There is no big story here.

“Campaigns retool. Glenn’s has retooled,” she said, referring to GOP gubernatorial nominee Glenn Youngkin. “Everybody else’s has retooled. I’m just doing it a little bit later.”

Tucker Davis, a senior Sears campaign adviser, said they had to make “strategic decisions” that pivot the campaign to success in November.

“Like any campaign, we have to make strategic decisions that best position us for victory. We are focused on running a lean campaign over the next 55 days, and using all of our resources to get our message out to voters,” Mr. Davis said in a statement.

Mr. Davis added that he believed Mrs. Sears is in a “strong position” to win in a race against Democratic candidate and Virginia state Del. Hala Ayala.

The shakeup comes as polls are set to open for early voting on Sept. 17.

An Aug. 31 survey by Monmouth University showed a tight contest between Mrs. Sears and Ms. Ayala.

The poll showed Ms. Ayala leading with 43% over Ms. Sears’ 42%, with a margin of error of +/- 3.5%. The phone survey was conducted Aug. 24-29 among 802 registered Virginia voters.

In 2001, Mrs. Sears became the first Black Republican woman and first female veteran to serve in the state General Assembly, and she is the first Black woman to become the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor.

She will be on the ballot with GOP gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin and attorney general candidate Jason Miyares.

Ms. Ayala was the first Afro-Latina elected to the Virginia General Assembly and would be the state’s first woman and Afro-Latina lieutenant governor if elected.

Ms. Ayala will be on the ballot with Democratic nominee and former Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Attorney General Mark Herring, who is running for a third term.

Election Day is Nov. 2.

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