Virginia GOP lt. gov. nominee lays off campaign staff ahead of election

Virginia GOP lt. gov. nominee lays off campaign staff ahead of election
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Winsome Sears, the GOP candidate in Virginia's lieutenant governor race, laid off her entire campaign staff 55 days out from Election Day in the commonwealth. 

A former Sears campaign staffer, who was laid off, told The Hill that the entire team, including the campaign manager, was let go on Wednesday. Staff was notified by a law firm about the termination and no reason was given for the layoffs, according to the former staffer. 

The Richmond-based GOP consulting firm Creative Direct is now in charge of the campaign. 

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“Like any campaign, we have to make strategic decisions that best position us for victory," Tucker Davis, a senior Sears campaign adviser, said in a statement to reporters. "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.”

Davis said in the same statement that Sears was in "a strong position to become Virginia's next lieutenant governor."

Republican gubernatorial nominee Glenn Youngkin's campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

The layoffs come just over a week before polls open for early voting in the state. 

Sears will face Del. Hala Ayala (D) in the general lieutenant gubernatorial election. A Monmouth University survey released last week showed Ayala narrowly leading Sears 43 percent to 42 percent, while a Christopher Newport University poll released last month showed Ayala leading Sears by 10 points. 

Sears made national news last week when she said she would support "fetal heartbeat" abortion legislation amid the fallout over a Texas law that bans abortion as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. 

"Well, I can tell you that would be me, that I would support [it]," Sears told Newsmax on Friday when asked whether she would support an abortion ban like the one in Texas. 

Sears's campaign walked back the statement, saying the law passed in Texas would not pass in Virginia's General Assembly. 

"While Winsome personally supports protecting life and the most vulnerable, as a former legislator herself she also recognizes that Virginia is very different from Texas, and that legislation could never have the votes to pass the Virginia General Assembly," the campaign said.