Republican Winsome Sears was elected as Virginia's new lieutenant governor on Tuesday night, becoming the first woman and the first woman of color to serve in the position.
"I am at a loss for words for the first time in my life," Sears said in an address to supporters on election night. "...What you are looking at is the American dream. The American dream."
This is the not the first barrier Sears has broken. Sears, a U.S. Marine veteran, previously served in Virginia's House of Delegates. She was the first Black Republican woman, first female veteran and first "legal immigrant" woman elected to that position, she says on her campaign website.
Sears was born in Jamaica and moved to the U.S. when she was 6 years old, according to the local outlet the Jamaica Observer.
"When my father came to this country August 11th of 1963, he came at the height of the civil rights movement from Jamaica. ... And he only came with $1.75," she said in her victory speech. "...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."
Throughout her campaign, Sears advocated for increasing pay for teachers and law enforcement, cutting taxes, and expanding veteran care centers. She also said that, as lieutenant governor, she will push for the creation of a Black Virginians Advisory Cabinet for the governor and for a "once-in-a-generation investment" in Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
Sears campaigned alongside, the Republican who was elected to the governor's seat on Tuesday in a closely-watched battle against Democrat Terry McAuliffe.
"It's a historic night, yes it is," Sears said. "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."
Sears is former chair of the Black Americans Making America First political action committee, which according to its website is "dedicated to making America first by promoting the Trump policy initiatives." Among other things, the group advocates for curtailing illegal immigration, promoting Second Amendment rights, and "defending biblical marriage and preventing transgendered males from competing in women's sports."
She previously drew controversy in her campaign when she released a poster showing her holding an assault style rifle with the words "Battle tested conservative. Semper Fi." Along with images of the poster being shared on social media, it was also used by the political action committee BlakPAC to endorse Sears.
Another iteration of the poster that was used in a flyer mailed to some voters shows Sears shooting at targets identified as red flag laws, voter fraud, government shutdowns and critical race theory.
"To Joe Biden: From my cold, dead, hands. Sincerely, Winsome Sears," the ad says.
Sears addressed the poster at one point on Twitter, saying "Our 2A rights protect us & as an immigrant from a 3rd world country, I value them."
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