Virginia voters elected the first black woman to a statewide office Tuesday. Winsome Sears won the race for lieutenant governor and she’s a Republican. Like Youngkin, she was seen as an underdog in the race. Fortunately for Virginia, both she and Youngkin won.
It’s not hard to imagine that coverage of Sears’ candidacy and victory would be a little different if she was a Democrat. She ran against a black female Democrat candidate. That is pretty unusual for two black women to compete against each other for the same office from opposite political parties. Yet her opponent, Hala Ayala, a two-term member of the state House of Delegates from Prince William County, seemed to have a higher profile in the media.
Others noticed as election day drew near. One tweet caught my eye because it seemed to ring true.
Shouldn't media be all over a black woman who immigrated from Jamaica, served in the Marines, has a Masters degree, ran a homeless women's shelter, raised 3 kids, and is now running to be the highest ranking minority woman gov't official in Virginia history? Winsome Sears: pic.twitter.com/ePseTRJn93
— Brent Scher (@BrentScher) October 25, 2021
It’s hard to deny Sears’ impressive resume and life story, as the tweet above acknowledges. She points out that she is black but that isn’t what her campaign was about. Addressing her supporters Tuesday night, she humbly noted that she’s an immigrant living the American dream.
“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
What is striking about both the Youngkin campaign and the Sears campaign is the focus on Virginia and its residents, on real-life issues. They didn’t bring in big-name celebrities or public figures to boost their crowds at rallies. They didn’t nationalize the election with rhetoric that was both offensive and out-of-touch. You didn’t hear Sears say that parents shouldn’t have a voice in the education of their children, for example – she raised three children and understood the concerns of parents. “You don’t want to get between a mama bear and her cubs”, she said on Fox and Friends this morning.
She’s relatively new in politics, having served as a one-term delegate from Norfolk. Her lack of time in elected office likely served to her advantage, as it did for Youngkin. Both ran as happy warriors, not ugly dividers as the Democrats like McAuliffe ran his campaign, screaming “Trump!” at every opportunity. Voters look to the future when they go to cast their ballot, not the past. Sears had her ear to the ground as she delivered a message to the black community of opportunity, as well as to all Virginians. She is a veteran and strongly supports the Second Amendment.
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.
Virginia meet your new Lieutenant Governor. pic.twitter.com/WukS6wlCrm
— Daniel Bostic (@debostic) November 3, 2021
Unlike Democrats who are giddy with power in D.C., proceeding as though they have the mandate to be as far-left as they can be, trying to shove through progressive legislation, Sears spoke of uniting Virginians and representing everyone, not just her own party.
I think what has happened with the progressives is that they have pitted all of us against each other so that they can swoop in and be our political savior. And we are saying that, you know, we have to be one Virginia. I have won my race as lieutenant governor and I’m not going to be representing Republicans solely. No. I’m representing Republicans, Libertarians, Green Party, Reform Party, Democrats, everybody. We’ve got to learn to live together to get along so that we can have a peace.
Both Sears and Youngkin have shown a way forward for Republican victories. The focus has to be localized, addressing what is important to local communities. Most of all, it is important to run candidates that are not afraid to speak up on cultural issues. Democrats run on taking away rights, whether it is gun rights or the right to life. Sears was not afraid to pose with a gun or speak up in support of the opportunities available in America. The message of McAuliffe’s campaign – that Republicans are racist and white supremacists was firmly rejected by Virginia voters.
Republicans picked up another important victory in Virginia on Tuesday. Del. Jason S. Miyares declared victory with 95% of the vote in as Virginia’s next attorney general. His Democrat opponent ran on a far-left social issues agenda and it backfired.
Miyares, who was ahead with about 95 percent of the vote counted just before 1 a.m., declared victory and said he was “humbled and honored” to become the first Latino elected as the state’s top lawyer. A win for him would represent a major upset for a candidate who had never run for statewide office before and was taking on one of Virginia’s marquee political names. By early Wednesday, Herring had not publicly conceded.
Miyares, a former prosecutor who was little known outside his Virginia Beach district before this run, paired a hard-edge, tough-on-crime message with a softer, more uplifting appeal centered on his family’s story of emigrating from Cuba. will likely be declared the winner in the race for attorney general.
As I write this on Wednesday morning, I haven’t seen an official statement that Ayala has conceded. Needless to say, Democrats in Virginia are waking up to a brand new world. It’s a bright, hopeful day to be a Republican voter in Virginia today.
Congratulations to Lieutenant Governor-elect @WinsomeSears
— The Virginia Project (@ProjectVirginia) November 3, 2021