Republicans swept Virginia’s statewide elections in a red wave Tuesday, winning hotly contested races for governor, attorney general and – in a historic achievement by a woman of color – lieutenant governor.
Republican Glenn Youngkin edged Democrat and former Gov. Terry McAuliffe in the governor’s race, while the GOP’s Jason Miyares topped incumbent Mark Herring for attorney general. Miyares is the first Latino to hold the office.
In the lieutenant governor’s race, Winsome Sears defeated Hala Ayala to become the first black woman and the first woman of color elected to a statewide office.
All three races were tight, with the winning candidate receiving just over 50 percent of the vote.
“It’s time for Virginia to be the place where everyone wants to live – not leave,” Youngkin told cheering supporters in a victory speech, saying he wants Virginians to work “together.”
Sears’ win captured nationwide attention. She is only the 11th black woman nationwide to hold statewide office as either governor, lieutenant governor or attorney general, according to the Associated Press.
The Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life organization that backs pro-life candidates, had endorsed her.
“God was exactly with us. Otherwise, we would never have made it,” Sears said Tuesday night after her victory. “... I want to finish up by thanking you, Jesus. How sweet it is.”
Sears described how her father came to the United States from Jamaica in 1963 during the height of the Civil Rights movement. She addressed the subject of race during her speech.
“I say to you: 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,” she said. “[But] we can live where we want. We can eat where we want. We own the water fountains. We have had a black president elected not once but twice – and here I am living proof.”
At one point, Sears led the crowd in chants of “U.S.A.” She formerly served in the Virginia House of Delegates.
“I am not even first-generation American,” she said. “When I joined the Marine Corps, I was still a Jamaican, but this country had done so much for me I was willing to die for this country.”
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Chip Somodevilla/Staff
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.