Tomorrow won’t be the first time Winsome Sears attempts to make history. The conservative trailblazer pioneered a strategy two decades ago to win over minority voters that’s now paying dividends with Republicans.
In 2001, Sears ran and won a race in a majority black district in the Virginia House of Delegates. Despite the unfavorable conditions, Sears triumphed over incumbent Democrat Billy Robinson by six-points!
Overnight, she went from running a homeless shelter to become the first Virginia Republican representing a majority-minority seat since 1865.
Never one to settle, in 2004 Sears ran against Congressman Bobby Scott (D) in Virginia’s 3rd congressional district. Running in a “Safe D” seat was always going to be tough if not impossible. Nevertheless, Sears felt her life story made it possible to connect with minority voters in a way other Republicans couldn’t. Although she came up short, Sears’ biography became more well-known. Her immigration to the United States from Jamaica, service to our country in the Marine Corps and commitment to community service made for an endearing story.
A Model for Republicans
Sears’ ability to win over nontraditional Republican voters has become more common in recent election cycles. Even President Trump saw the biggest increase in his ballot share from 2016 to 2020 in Hispanic enclaves. These included Florida’s Miami-Dade County and Texas’ Rio Grande Valley. Moreover, the former president made significant inroads with black voters, including a six-point increase with black men.
Many of these new minority supporters felt betrayed by liberal policies that have left neighborhoods from the Rust Belt to America’s inner cities floundering.
Many Remain Democrats, Even Though They’re Not Liberal
Although it’s undeniable that minority groups still show a strong preference for Democrats overall, an increasing number feel their socially conservative views no longer align with the Democratic Party.
We’ve seen this trend lead to more GOP successes since 2020.
The June 2021 mayoral election in McAllen, Texas prominently comes to mind. Although the position is officially nonpartisan, Republicans had plenty to celebrate after Javier Villalobos’ victory. A Republican, Villalobos previously served as the Hidalgo County GOP chair. Now, he is the chief executive for one of the largest cities on the U.S.-Mexico border.
Will This Shifting Dynamic Affect Tomorrow’s Elections?
As political views inevitably change, it’s also important to note the frustration a seemingly growing number of minority voters have expressed over Democrats taking their support for granted. Reports even appeared today that Democratic Party leaders are frantically issuing a clarion call to black Virginians to vote. Whether or not their eleventh hour pleas are too little, too late remains to be seen. It is of note that black voters, especially black women, played a critical role in electing Terry McAuliffe governor in 2013.
Regardless of who wins the lieutenant governor’s race, Virginia voters will make history with their pick. Democrat Hala Ayala also immigrated to the United States as a black Latin American. Although their similarities end there.
Different Visions for Virginia’s Future
The Hill adds:
While much of the national media’s attention has been fixed on the tightening polling between gubernatorial candidates Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin, polling between Ayala and Sears has also been tight.
A Washington Post/Schar School survey released on Friday showed Ayala leading Sears among likely voters 50 to 46 percent, but within the survey’s four-point margin of error.
Ayala has echoed Virginia Democrats’ message of the need to defend their progress in the Old Dominion, pointing to the need to uphold abortion rights, gun control, and Medicaid expansion. The Democratic nominee was first elected to public office in 2017 when she became one of nine women to win their elections to the House of Delegates that year.
Like Youngkin, Sears, who served as the vice president of the Virginia Board of Education, has made education a centerpiece of her campaign. Youngkin and Sears have specifically pushed the issues of school choice and parents’ rights over school boards.
A recent poll from Christopher Newport University showed Ayala with a one-point lead over Sears. With margins that tight, victory will come down to whichever side is better at lighting a fire under their supporters.
Do you think Winsome Sears will win her election? Tell us below and while you’re at it, let us know what you’ve done to help Virginia Republicans!