Government Watch / History & Culture / Politics

For Winsome Sears, Making History Is Second Nature

AMAC Exclusive – by Eleanor Vaughn

History

When Winsome Sears launched her campaign for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, she did so in front of a banner that read “Let’s Make History Together.” But for the former Marine and mother of three, becoming the first woman of color to serve as Virginia’s Lieutenant Governor would hardly be the first time she’s made history. 

In 2001, when she was elected to represent Virginia’s 90th district, she became the first and only black Republican woman to be elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in its more than 400-year history. She was also the first female veteran and the first female immigrant to serve in that governing body.  In addition, she is the only Republican ever to win the district, which was created in 1982 and is located in the coastal city of Norfolk.  Sears’s election this year would also of particular importance for Republicans, as whomever becomes lieutenant governor will be able to break ties in Virginia’s gridlocked state Senate, effectively determining what laws can be passed for the next two years.

Yet Sears isn’t focused on firsts or breaking barriers.  Instead, she cites Psalm 133:1 as the basis for her campaign: “How good and pleasant it is when sisters and brothers live together in harmony.”

Sears has focused on education and enterprise as the pathway to achieve this harmony, a belief influenced by her own experiences.  Born in Jamaica, she came to America as a young child.  She joined the Marines, where she worked as an electrician, a skill she would later turn into a small business of her own.  Sears first came to Virginia to earn her bachelor’s degree at Old Dominion University, followed by a masters at Regent University, which led her to politics.  Sears’s success has been built on hard work and opportunity, and she thinks all Virginians should have the same chances to succeed.

Sears’s message on how best to serve Virginia’s black community has been particularly powerful throughout her campaign and has provided a marked contrast to the prevailing Democrat narrative on race. Sears does not focus on casting blame or talking about “systemic racism,” but rather on increasing access to education and job opportunities.  She calls for school choice and lowering burdens on small businesses, along with other policies that support economic growth. She argues that greater choice in education will allow parents to make their own decisions about their children’s schooling, instead of trapping those children in underperforming classrooms.  Likewise, she argues that reducing taxes will both help small businesses that have been hit hardest by the pandemic, and provide opportunities for those who need them most. 

Sears is also one of a growing number of black Republicans who are rising to prominence on the national stage.  Her story is remarkably similar to Mark Robinson, a black Republican who was recently elected Lieutenant Governor of North Carolina.  Both are veterans, former blue-collar workers, and small business owners, whose political careers have contained historic firsts.  Both through their lives and politics, Robinson and Sears have rejected the left’s insistence that they are trapped by impersonal forces that will determine their destiny.

Most importantly, Sears and other independent minded African-Americans represent a powerful reproach to those who peddle Critical Race Theory and other race-determinative ideologies.  Many on the left would, and have, attacked them for their views.  Across the nation, black Republicans have faced smear campaigns and exclusion from those who otherwise are quite vocal about their supposed support of minorities.  Larry Elder was labelled the “Black face of white supremacy” by a column in the Los Angeles Times, and Representative Byron Donalds, a black Republican House Member from Florida, was denied entry to the Congressional Black Caucus because of his political positions, despite the group’s nonpartisan status.  So far, Sears largely appears to have avoided this sort of treatment, but such attacks have become more and more commonplace from today’s Democratic Party.

Sears’ opponent, Hala Ayala, is the current Chief Deputy Whip in the Virginia House of Delegates.  Ayala’s campaign has focused on healthcare access and government programs as the path out of poverty.  She advocates for more investment in education, but does not want parents to be the final judges of what is right for their own children.  Ayala’s policies would direct the money toward institutions instead of allowing the money to follow the child, as Sears has called for.

Ayala stepped into the public sphere when she helped organize the first Women’s March in 2017, and she has spent her entire political career in an increasingly radical Democratic Party.  By contrast, Sears’s political roots predate today’s intense polarization, meaning she has a different, and less divisive, political message.

Virginia is just one state, but this election encapsulates a struggle affecting the entire country.  As incumbent governor Phil Murphy has pulled ahead in deep blue New Jersey, Virginia’s election is the only truly competitive statewide race that will provide a useful political snapshot of the country as it heads into the midterms next year. While the outcome of the race will reveal a great deal about the direction of both parties, the disparate messages of the two candidates in this race present a clear choice as well.  The options are between liberty and dependency, between choosing our own future and having it chosen for us.

In recent elections, Virginia has trended blue, voting for Democrats in every presidential election since 2008 and electing a Democratic governor in 2013 and 2017.  However, that could change, as recent polls show that this year’s race is extremely close. The University of Mary Washington released a poll on September 22 which indicated that likely voters favored Sears for lieutenant governor over Ayala by a 47% to 41% margin, while likely voters favored the Republican candidate for governor, Glenn Youngkin, over Democrat Terry McAuliffe.

The fact that Republicans appear to be gaining momentum in Virginia already indicates some dissatisfaction with the state’s Democratic leadership. If Sears and Youngkin win big in the Commonwealth this November, it would be a clear sign that voters are rejecting the Democratic Party’s policies, and it could very well be a preview of what is to come in the midterms next year.

Eleanor Vaughn is a writer who lives in Virginia.

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Pat
1 month ago

Please don’t use the term “African-American”, which further divides us. First, Mrs. Sears is NOT African, but Jamaican. Any hyphenated-whatever is divisive and should have no part in America. I expect better from Amac, an organization I’ve belonged to for a long time.

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