Former delegate Sears wins in GOP lieutenant governor race

FALLS CHURCH, Va. (AP) — Former Del. Winsome Sears, who 20 years ago became the first Black Republican woman elected to the Virginia Assembly, made a political comeback Tuesday after winning the GOP nomination for lieutenant governor.
Sears beat five other candidates, including two — former Del. Tim Hugo from Fairfax County and Virginia Beach Del. Glenn Davis — who were far more active in recent GOP politics.
Sears served a single term representing parts of Hampton Roads in the House of Delegates, winning election in 2001. She did not seek reelection and now resides in the Winchester area. She came to the U.S. from Jamaica as a child, and served in the Marines.
In her campaign, she highlighted her more recent work as national chairperson for Black Americans to Re-Elect President Trump.
Sears led throughout multiple rounds of balloting under the ranked-choice voting system Virginia Republicans used for their nominating convention.
After a first round of ballots was counted Tuesday, Sears led with 32%, followed by Hugo with 23% and Davis at 20%. In the final round, Sears won with about 54% over Hugo.
More than 30,000 delegates cast ballots Saturday at what the party called an “unassembled convention.” Delegates ranked the candidates from first choice to last on the ballots they submitted.
Sears joins gubernatorial nominee Glenn Youngkin and attorney general nominee Jason Miyares on the GOP ticket this fall. Republicans are hoping to end a 12-year losing streak in statewide races in Virginia.
Youngkin, after winning the nomination Monday night, received the endorsement of former President Donald Trump.
Democrats will choose their nominee next month in a state-run primary. Former governor Terry McAuliffe is the front-runner in a field of five gubernatorial candidates.
Virginia is the only state with an open-seat gubernatorial contest this year; the race is being closely scrutinized as an early signal of each party’s political strength heading into the 2022 congressional elections.
While Republicans have not won a statewide race in Virginia since 2009, the party has some hope of ending their drought this year; since 1973, only once has the party controlling the White House gone on to win the governor’s race in Virginia the next year.