Republicans Sweep Top Virginia Races and Make History with Election Wins for Black and Latino Candidates
Glenn Youngkin's victory over Terry McAuliffe in the Virginia governor's race on Tuesday was a big win for Republicans that may offer a preview of voter sentiment a year away from the midterm elections, when Democrats will attempt to hold onto slim majorities in both chambers of Congress.
But Youngkin's win wasn't the only notable one in Virginia.
Republican candidates scored a hat trick with apparent wins in the lieutenant governor and attorney general positions in a state that President Joe Biden easily won just one year ago.
Winsome Sears will be the state's first female and first woman of color in the office of lieutenant governor. She narrowly defeated state Del. Hala Ayala to serve alongside Youngkin.
"I'm telling you that what you are looking at is the American dream," she said declaring victory early Wednesday.
Sears, 57, was born in Jamaica and immigrated to the U.S. as a child. She's a Marine Corps veteran and a small business owner of an appliance and plumbing repair shop. She served a single two-year term in Virginia's House of Delegates that ended in 2004, making a return to politics almost two decades later.
"It's a historic night — yes, it is — but I didn't run to make history. I just wanted to leave it better than I found it," she told supporters early Wednesday once the election was called in her favor.
From police reform to Confederate monuments, racial justice has become a major topic in political campaigns across the country, especially how it's discussed in America's classrooms. Sears has been outspoken on the topic.
"In case you have not noticed, I am Black and I have been Black all my life," Sears also said in her speech. "But that is not what this is about. What we are going to do is we are going to now be about the business of the commonwealth. We have things to tend to. We are going to fully fund our historically Black colleges and universities. We're going to have safer neighborhoods, safer communities and our children are going to get a good education."
Former prosecutor Jason Miyares, who has represented Virginia Beach in the House of Delegates, declared victory in the race to be Virginia's attorney general on Tuesday, narrowly leading the Democrat incumbent Mark Herring, who has not yet conceded the race.
The son of a Cuban immigrant, Miyares said he was "humbled and honored" to be the first Latino to hold that office in Virginia.
"In some ways, my story begins in Havana, Cuba, when a scared 19-year-old girl got on an airplane literally penniless and homeless, not knowing where her next meal was going to come from," Miyares, 45, often said on the campaign trail, according to a local ABC news station. "So I grew up every day to have such appreciation that I could live in this amazing country."
Miyares sold himself as a candidate who would be tough on criminals and in favor of increased funding for law enforcement.
"The victims of violent crimes are too often ignored or forgotten in Richmond," his website argues. "An out-of-control parole board has let out felons, rapists, murderers, cop killers, and child abusers out of prison and back in our neighborhoods and communities."
Though Herring said his campaign was "waiting for every ballot to be counted" before the results are official, Miyares released a statement thanking Virginia "for giving me the opportunity to make history," according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
"Virginia has spoken," he continued, "we want safe streets, we want our police to be well trained and supported in the community — and we want the rule of law respected. I intend on delivering on my campaign promises."