Republican Winsome Sears elected Virginia’s first Black woman lieutenant governor

Sears, an immigrant from Jamaica, said her historic election was living proof that the United States is not a divided country.

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Winsome Sears, a conservative Republican, has made history as the first Black woman to be elected as Virginia’s lieutenant governor. She joins Glenn Youngkin — who defeated Democrat Terry McAuliffe in Tuesday’s gubernatorial race — as the commonwealth’s new executive leadership.

Virginia Republican candidate for lieutenant governor Winsome Sears
Virginia Republican candidate for lieutenant governor Winsome Sears takes the stage with her family during an election night rally at the Westfields Marriott Washington Dulles on November 02, 2021 in Chantilly, Virginia. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Sears defeated her Democratic opponent State Delegate Hala Ayala, who is Afro-Latina, to also become the first woman Lt. governor in Virginia’s 400-year history.

“I’m at a loss for words for the first time in my life,” Sears said to a crowd of supporters at governor-elect Youngkin’s campaign headquarters, according to CNN political reporter Eva McKend. “This country has done so much for me, I was willing to die for it.”

Sears, an immigrant from Jamaica, said her historic election is living proof that the United States is not a divided country, sending a political message to Democrats on the other side of the aisle.

“There are some who want to divide us and we must not let that happen. They would like us to believe we are back in 1963 when my father came,” said Sears. “We can live where we want, we can eat where want — we own the water fountains,” adding, “We’ve had a Black president elected not once but twice, and here I am living proof … In case you haven’t noticed, I am Black, and I have been Black all my life.”

Prior to her run for lieutenant governor, Sears was the first Black Republican woman to serve in Virginia’s General Assembly. She served only one term from 2002 to 2004. She later launched an unsuccessful bid for Congress against Democrat U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott.

Sears is also a Marine veteran, former vice president of the Virginia Board of Education and owner of an appliance business, according to CNN.

As for her personal life, Sears is a wife and mother of three children. In 2012, Sears’s 27-year-old daughter DeJon L’Air Williams and two grandchildren died in a car accident.

Sears has a history of defending former, twice impeached president Donald Trump, who Youngkin distanced himself from during most of the campaign trail. Serving as national chair of Black Americans Making America First, which was intended to promote Trump’s policies, Sears has defended her support for Trump as her being an “independent thinker.” She has also generally downplayed the role of race and emphasized that Black people have seen much progress in America.

While campaigning, Sears targeted the drummed up wedge issue of critical race theory, calling it “racist,” despite Virginia’s Department of Education saying it does not teach CRT in its schools. However, the republican said she thinks the good and bad of history should be taught to American children.

Virginia Republican candidate for Lieutenant Governor Winsome Sears gestures as she delivers remarks to supporters at the Old Town Alexandria Farmers Market on October 30, 2021 in Alexandria, Virginia. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

“If Critical Race Theory means that telling a child that once you emerge from the womb you are a racist and a colonizer and whatever else, that’s not going to be good. That’s going to create morale problems for everybody,” Sears told the Virginia Mercury. “If we’re going to teach about African American history, why just keep it to one month? Let’s teach it throughout. Let’s talk about these things. You can’t escape history. Let’s talk about the good, the bad and the ugly.”

When previously asked by CNN if she thought confederate monuments in the U.S. should be removed, Sears declined to answer. However, she had previously rejected the embracing of the confederate flag.

“Are there changes that need to be made? Most assuredly,” said Sears. “There is no country in this world that does not suffer from racism. … But you have seen people who are dying to cross the border into America because they know that if they can get their foot on American soil, the trajectory of their lives will change — as it did for my father.”

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