Virginia Republicans shocked the nation last November when they flipped their state — which Biden won in 2020 with an eight-point margin — firmly to the GOP.
Republican Glenn Youngkin comfortably defeated Democratic contender Terry McAuliffe for the governorship, and Republicans clinched a majority in the Virginia House of Delegates.
Many stories emerged in the Virginia elections that will define national races in 2022 and beyond — most importantly, the central role of education and other “kitchen-table issues” that matter to American households. However, the elections were also marked by the emergence of a new conservative hero. A gun-toting, ex-Marine, Jamaican-American, business-owning, mother-of-three named Winsome Sears won the lieutenant governorship — becoming the first black woman in Virginia to attain statewide office in the process.
In an interview with The Daily Wire, Sears detailed her rise to stardom, her policy priorities, and how her victory could be replicated across the nation.
‘The American Dream’
In her own words, Sears “took the hard road” to public office.
Her father left Jamaica for the United States with only $1.75 in his pocket at the height of the civil rights movement — 17 days before Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his landmark “I Have A Dream” speech. Despite the challenges still faced by black people, Sears’ father took any job he could find, put himself through school, and brought his young daughter to America. Today, he is “comfortably retired because he achieved the American dream.”
“So this is not my country necessarily, not my culture,” Sears explained. “And yet I am second in command here in Virginia.”
Sears won her first election in 2001 by defeating a 20-year Democratic incumbent for a seat in the House of Delegates. She has since served on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Advisory Committee on Women Veterans and the Virginia Board of Education. Before running for office, however, Sears led a men’s prison ministry and a women’s shelter, aiding with “long-term transition to help them get back on their feet.”
‘We Are The New Messengers’
Youngkin is the first Republican to hold the Virginia governor’s office since 2013, and Democrats controlled the House of Delegates, Senate, and governorship in both 2020 and 2021. Sears observed that when Democrats have “that kind of control,” they just “run with it” — but also noticed that they “went a bridge too far.”
“When you’ve got girls being in the same bathrooms as boys, and then rapes happen, then that’s a problem. And when you’re not trying to fix it — when you’re lying to the parents about these things — that’s a problem,” Sears said, referring to Loudoun County Public Schools appearing to conceal a sexual assault against a ninth-grade girl by a boy wearing a skirt, as exclusively revealed by The Daily Wire.
“When you’re trying to pit the races against each other, then that’s another problem. When the children aren’t learning anything, period, that’s another problem,” she continued. “When you have the masks on in school, and it’s really affecting children inordinately… that’s another problem that the Democrats had.”
“These were problems that were building up for the Democrats, and they weren’t listening,” Sears said. “We are the new messengers. We brought the new message that the people wanted.”
Sears hopes that the Virginia Senate — which is still controlled by the Democrats — will “get on board” alongside Republicans as they forward the interests of the electorate. In any case: “They’re three years old with their message. Ours is the newer message that the people want.”
“There are certain things that I’m about. I’m not going to be giving those away,” she said. “But you know, on certain things, you have to have a give and take in order to get done what you want.”
Although Sears affirms that she “can be congenial” and will “choose to say ‘No’ the nicer way until you show me that that’s not going to work,” she has earned a penchant for her blunt communication style. Beyond the viral campaign photo in which she brandished a large rifle, Sears recently drew national attention for using her high-heeled patent leather pump to bring the Virginia Senate to order after a prankster stole her gavel.
At the same time, she recognizes that her party will likely be unable to “get the whole shebang” while the Senate remains hostile. “Democrats, as I said before, when they get the ship, they run. And now we’re having to try to get rid of some of the things that they have put forward. We can’t get the votes for it, because the votes just aren’t there. So I would hope that the folks give us some grace and understand that until we can change things, we get what we get and we’ll come back next year.”
‘Your Child, Your Choice’
During their first days in office, Virginia Republicans began to undo elements of the progressive agenda established by their predecessors. Youngkin cleaned house in the state’s diversity office, signed an executive order nixing the use of Critical Race Theory in government schools, and began investigating Loudoun County Public Schools, among other actions.
When asked about the issues plaguing government schools, Sears affirmed that she wants parents “to have school choice.”
“If the parents want to continue to send their children to public schools, that’s fine. Your child, your choice. If you want to send them to charter schools, which is a public school, that’s fine. Your child, your choice,” she declared. “You want private school, you want parochial schools, you want homeschool, whatever it is… let the parents make that choice for their children.”
“Competition is healthy,” Sears noted. “I mean, what are they afraid of? What are the teachers’ unions afraid of? If you’re doing a good job, that’s wonderful. But if not, and parents decide that they’re going to send their children elsewhere, then who are you to stand in the door and block that parent from choosing that for their child?”
Sears noticed that critics of school choice are inconsistent in their arguments about state financing. “The pushback is, ‘Well, they don’t want public money going towards private entities.’ But wait a minute, let’s examine that. You have SNAP food benefits. Now isn’t that public money going towards private grocery stores? The government doesn’t have a grocery store that it tells the people, ‘You can only use your food voucher at the government grocery store.’ When it comes to Section 8 — we know that that’s public money going to private landlords… You see? So there is a problem there. And none of it makes any sense.”
‘We Need To Come Together’
In a recent interview with the Richmond Free Press, Sears lamented that she is “tired of fighting people who look like me.” Similarly, when a black Republican in the House of Delegates was barred from joining the black caucus, Sears had multiple pithy suggestions for new coalitions — such as the “You’re Not Black Enough Caucus” and the “Watch the Trolls Come Out Caucus.”
When asked to elaborate on her sentiment, she again mourned that “the people sometimes who come against me the most are the people who look like me.”
“I’m fighting for everybody. I’m fighting for black people, white people, Asians, Latinos, I’m fighting for everybody. I want everybody to have a fair shake,” Sears said. “We know that in math, for example, by the time children in Virginia reach the eighth grade, 35% of Asian children can’t do math. 45% of white children, 70% of Latino children, and 84% of black children can’t do math by the time they’re in the eighth grade.”
“So the problem that folks have is not that I’m a black Republican — the problem they have is that our children aren’t learning. That’s what we need to fight. We need to come together and fight for our children to get the best education possible.”
The need for educational excellence is heightened by the rising hegemony of Russia and China. “We’ve got to figure it out, come together, learn to get along, learn to love each other so that we can remain the number one superpower in the world.”
‘Our Message Is Working’
Sears believes that her party’s success in Virginia is indicative of what’s coming for the rest of the nation because “parents are always going to fight for their children.”
“People from all around the country are saying, ‘We now know that we too can achieve the same results that you had.’ Look at what happened in San Francisco. San Francisco recalled three people from their school board, and the mayor — who is a Democrat, and who is black — was agreeing to that, led the effort to do that. That was a shocker.”
“When you’re seeing bastions of Democrat leadership who are sounding more and more Republican — then you know our message is working,” she observed. “In fact, when President Biden gave his State of the Union speech, I could have sworn to you… I thought he was a Republican governor, or at least a Republican candidate for governor.”
“You know, people are understanding that common sense left the building, and they’re going to vote her back in. And that happens with voting Republicans back in.”
The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.