Winsome Sears wins Virginia GOP lieutenant governor’s race

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Winsome Sears (photo courtesy of Sears’ campaign)

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Winsome Sears, the first Black Republican woman elected to the Virginia General Assembly, defeated Tim Hugo in the fifth and final round of vote counting from the GOP convention to claim the party’s nomination for lieutenant governor on Tuesday.

Sears, who represented Norfolk in the House of Delegates from 2002 to 2004, had led the six-way race throughout the day and now joins businessman Glenn Youngkin and Del. Jason Miyares on the Republican ticket for the general election on Nov. 2.

If elected in November, Sears would be the first woman to serve as Virginia’s lieutenant governor.

She received 54% of the weighted vote after round five, according to the nonpartisan Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP). With the ranked-choice system, candidates with the fewest votes are eliminated after each round until one reaches a majority.

The last candidate in Sears’ way to the nomination was another former state delegate, Tim Hugo, who represented Fairfax but lost his House seat to a Democrat in 2019.

Del. Glenn Davis Jr. (R-Virginia Beach), who lost out on the nomination for lieutenant governor in the 2017 primary, was considered as a leading contender before the convention but was eliminated after 5 p.m.

Business executive and attorney Maeve Rigler was eliminated first, followed by Puneet Ahluwalia, a lobbyist and business consultant with the lobbying firm The Livingston Group, and Lance Allen, an Air Force veteran and national security company executive.

A campaign sign for Sears at Evergreen Elementary School in Chesterfield, one of the sites for the GOP’s “unassembled convention” on May 8, 2021. (Photo: 8News’ Dean Mirshahi)

More than 53,000 Republicans were certified as delegates for the party’s “unassembled convention” on May 8 but just over 30,000 cast ballots for the GOP’s nominees for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general. Votes were weighted for the convention, with the state party allocating a certain number of votes to local voting units based on previous turnout for Republican candidates.

The GOP also opted for ranked-choice voting for the convention, requiring convention delegates to list the candidates they support in orders. After each round, the candidate in last place is eliminated and the votes from convention delegates who had them in their first slot are redistributed to people’s second choices. This process continues until one candidate receives a majority.

The official duties of Virginia’s lieutenant governor are to preside over the Virginia Senate as the president of the chamber and to succeed the governor if they were to leave office for any reason before their term is over. 

As president of the Virginia Senate, the lieutenant governor casts tie-breaking votes when senators are split on a measure and can make rulings on disputes between lawmakers.

Six Democrats are competing for their party’s nomination for lieutenant governor in a primary on June 8. The general election will be on Nov. 2.

This story is developing. Stay with 8News for updates.

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