Winsome Sears, who in 2001 became the first Black Republican woman elected to the General Assembly, formally launched her GOP bid for lieutenant governor Thursday, saying she is running because “we’ve got to have adults making decisions.”
Sears, 56, immigrated to the U.S. from Jamaica at age 6. She served in the Marines, where she was an electrician and diesel mechanic. She now lives in Winchester and owns a plumbing, electrical and appliance repair business.
“We’ve got to safeguard people’s rights,” Sears said in a telephone interview. “Democrats are playing games with our lives.”
She said that if state ABC stores and large retailers can be open amid COVID-19, “churches and mom-and-pop stores can be open.”
Sears is the 13th candidate in the sprawling field for lieutenant governor, which features five Republicans and eight Democrats.
Sears first came to prominence in Virginia political circles in 2001, when she defeated Del. William P. Robinson Jr., D-Norfolk, who had been a delegate since 1981. She served in the House of Delegates from 2002 to 2004. She chose not to seek re-election, then lost a 2004 bid for Congress to Rep. Bobby Scott, D-3rd, 69% to 31%.
Sears, who majored in English and minored in economics at Old Dominion University, holds a master’s from Regent University. After leaving the legislature, she served on the Virginia Board of Education and was an appointee in President George W. Bush’s administration to the U.S. Veterans Affairs Advisory Committee on Women Veterans.
In 2018, she urged Republicans to write in her name for U.S. Senate in place of GOP nominee Corey Stewart, whom she called a “charlatan.”
Last year, Sears served as national chair of Black Americans to Re-elect the President, a group that sought to attract more Black voters and expand the GOP’s base. Exit polls showed that President Donald Trump fared better with Black voters in 2020 than in 2016.
A video announcing Sears’ candidacy for lieutenant governor features images of President Ronald Reagan and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
Sears said in a prepared statement: “It is of paramount importance that we nominate a candidate who will unite the Republican Party, expand the electorate as I have been doing, and secure a resounding victory in November.”
The candidate says she is “unapologetically pro-life,” an “ardent supporter” of Second Amendment rights and a backer of school choice, including vouchers, which she says would give families in low-income neighborhoods more opportunity.
“Let the money follow the child,” Sears said in the phone interview, adding that “competition is healthy.”
Sears also wants to emphasize what she calls “ballot box integrity.” She said she wants Virginia to bar third parties from turning in ballots for individuals. She also wants Virginia to go back to requiring a photo ID at the polls, noting that in the past, the state has allowed people who do not have such an ID to apply for photo identification cards.
“I’m not saying the election would have changed” if such measures were in place, Sears said. But she believes moves to ensure ballot security would improve all voters’ confidence in electoral outcomes.
Sears and her husband, Terence, have three daughters.
The four other candidates for the GOP nomination are: Del. Glenn Davis, R-Virginia Beach; former Del. Tim Hugo, R-Fairfax; Northern Virginia business consultant Puneet Ahluwalia; and Lance Allen of Fauquier County, an Air Force veteran who works for a national security and technology firm.