Republican Winsome Sears wins Virginia lieutenant governor's race

Republican Winsome Sears wins Virginia lieutenant governor's race
© Associated Press/Cliff Owen

Former Virginia Del. Winsome Sears (R) is projected to win the state’s lieutenant gubernatorial race, making history as the first woman and Black woman to hold the position. 

NBC and CNN both called the race for Sears early Wednesday morning.

In addition to being second-in-command in Richmond, Sears will also play the crucial role as the president of the state Senate, where she could cast a number of tie-breaking votes over the next two years. Current Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D) has cast 52 tie-breaking votes in his role as president of the legislative body. Democrats control the state Senate, which doesn't see elections until 2023, 21-19.    

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Sears’s victory is significant given Virginia’s fraught history as the former capital of the Confederacy, an indicator of how far the commonwealth has progressed. Sears ran against Del. Hala Ayala (D), who is Afro-Latina, making the general election race historic in its own right. 

The Republican made history three times over in 2001 when she became the first Black female Republican, first naturalized citizen delegate, and first female veteran to serve in the House of Delegates, representing the state's 90th district. Sears was born in Kingston, Jamaica. 

In 2004, she unsuccessfully ran against Democratic U.S. Rep. Bobby ScottRobert (Bobby) Cortez ScottProposed Virginia maps put rising-star House Democrats at risk Industry, labor groups at odds over financial penalties in spending package Historically Black colleges and universities could see historic funding under Biden plan MORE in the state’s 3rd Congressional District and in the 2018 U.S. Senate race she ran as a write-in alternative to Republican candidate Corey Stewart. Prior to getting involved in politics, Sears served as an electrician in the Marines.