When Republican Winsome Sears took the stage early Wednesday morning to celebrate her victory over Democrat Hala Ayala in the race to be Virginia’s next lieutenant governor, the crowd was electrified. Sears, surrounded by her family, sparkled as the crowd chanted, “Winsome! Winsome! Winsome!”
“I am at a loss for words for the first time in my life,” she told supporters. “I am here because of you. I’m here because you voted for me. I’m here because you put your trust in me. Thank you, thank you.”
“I’m telling you that what you are looking at is the American dream. The American dream. When my father came to this country on August 11, 1963. He came at the height of the civil rights movement,” she said. “He came from Jamaica. I said to him, ‘why did you come?’ He said, ‘because America was where the jobs and the opportunities were.’”
She explained that her father arrived in the U.S. with $1.75 in his pocket, taking any job he could find and putting himself through school so he could enjoy the American Dream.
She posted this sweet video in August to commemorate the anniversary of the day her father came to America:
August 11th is a very special day in my life. Today is the day my father first came to this country, in 1963,with less than $2 in his pocket. Even in while America was in darkness , my Father saw the light and what this Country could offer. pic.twitter.com/rbxSwySvKI
— Winsome Sears (@WinsomeSears) August 11, 2021
“He came and got me when I was six years old, and when I stepped onto that PanAm Boing 737 and landed at JFK, I landed in a new world. And so let me tell you this,” she said. “I am not even a first-generation American. When I joined the Marine Corps I was still a Jamaican. But this country had done so much for me I was willing—willing to die for this country.”
“U-S-A! U-S-A!” she chanted, as the crowd enthusiastically joined in.
Sears, who built a small successful small business as a trained electrician and served on the Virginia State Board of Education, spoke eloquently about the divisions in our country but pushed back against the notion that America is a fundamentally racist country. “And so I say to you, there are some that want to divide us and we must not let that happen,” she said. “They would like us to believe we are back in 1963 when my father came.”
Describing the progress made by black Americans, Sears declared, “We can live where we want, we can eat what we want, we own the water fountains. We have had a black president not once, but twice, and here I am, living proof!”
She explained that although she is black, that’s not what the Youngkin/Sears administration will be about. “What we are going to do is we are now going to be about the business of the Commonwealth. We have things to attend to,” she said.
“You’re gonna hear from your governor-elect, Glenn Youngkin, and he’s got a day-one plan that I’m already tired about,” Sears quipped. “Don’t know how I’m going to make it to day two, but he’s going to make sure we keep more of our money in our pockets… we’re going to have safer neighborhoods, safer communities, and our children are going to get a good education.”
Sears said that education lifted both her and her father out of poverty and declared: “Education will lift us all out of poverty because we must have marketable skills so our children cannot just survive, but they will thrive. We will create generational wealth. That’s what this is about.”
Sears will be the first female and first woman of color to hold the office of lieutenant governor in Virginia.
“It’s a historic night, yes it is,” she conceded, “but I didn’t run to make history. I just wanted to leave it better than I found it, and with your help, we’re going to do that.”
“Hold on, Virginia, help is on the way,” she exclaimed. “The cavalry has arrived!”
“I want to finish up by saying, ‘Thank you, Jesus, how sweet it is,’” Sears concluded.
Sears, who has vowed to defend gun rights, keep schools open, and stop vaccine mandates, beat her opponent in the race by just over two points. Governor-elect Younkin beat Democrat Terry McAuliffe by about the same margin. McAuliffe conceded the race early Wednesday morning.
Youngkin and Sears were not the only winners in Virginia, where Republicans made a clean sweep in statewide races. Jason Miyares is set to become the state’s first Latino attorney gender and Republicans are poised to take control of Virginia’s House of Delegates.