Republican Winsome E. Sears is set to win Virginia’s race for lieutenant governor Wednesday morning, which will make her the first Black woman in the state’s second-highest office.
Sears, 57, was born in Jamaica and is Black.
“I’m telling you that what you are looking at is the American Dream,” Sears told supporters in a victory speech in Chantilly that highlighted the journey of her father from Jamaica to the United States, showing up in New York with just $1.75 in his pocket.
Sears has vowed to push for Virginia to fully fund historically Black colleges and universities, or HBCUs.
“In case you haven’t noticed, I am Black and I’ve been Black all of my life,” she said, as her husband and two daughters stood behind her.
Her political career began in 2001, when as a young former U.S. Marine, Sears beat a long-term incumbent in a predominantly Democratic by promising voters state-funded school vouchers could help their children get a better education.
She served just one term in the House, leaving the political arena — in large part to care for a daughter with bipolar disorder who died in a 2011 car crash along with Sears’s two young granddaughters.
She has generated enthusiasm within the party’s conservative base through a campaign ad that featured a stone-faced Sears posing in a dress and blazer with an assault rifle.