LYNCHBURG, Va. (WFXR) — The elections in Virginia this November are already shaping up to be historic, with the Commonwealth poised to elect a Black woman to a statewide office for the first time in Virginia history.
Del. Hala Ayala secured the Democratic nomination for Lieutenant Governor on Tuesday, June 8. Her opponent, Republican Winsome Sears, is also a Black woman and a former Delegate, all but guaranteeing the historic first, but the historic significance of their race doesn’t stop there.
In addition to one of them becoming the first Black woman elected to state office, they’ll also be only the second woman Virginia ever elected statewide, 32 years after former Attorney General Mary Sue Terry’s election.
“In both cases, they are going to participate in what will be, no matter what the outcome is, an historic election,” according to WFXR News Political Analyst and Virginia Tech political science professor Dr. Karen Hult. “That’s important, I think.”
Sears, the Republican nominee, has already made history. On her website, she touts herself as the first and only Black Republican woman elected to the Virginia House of Delegates, but she’s downplaying the historic nature of this election.
“That part of history doesn’t really matter to me. Do you know why?” she said. “After you get past that, after you get past whatever history we’re making, what do you do next? Because now that’s history. We have the future to look to, and the future says our children are failing in schools.”
Ayala, the Democratic candidate, wasn’t available for an interview, but we spoke to her about this topic last year as she began her campaign about what her potential victory would represent.
“To me, you can’t be what you can’t see,” she told WFXR News in 2020, “and I think it’s time to not only have women and women of color in the administration, but representing the Commonwealth in this capacity.”
Ayala, who is also Salvadoran and Lebanese, would make history again as Virginia’s highest-ranking Hispanic and Asian elected official ever.
“I know what it feels like to be left out. To not have a voice. To not be included,” said Ayala. “I’m fighting for all of us.”
Hult says whichever woman wins will have a launching pad to the governorship in four years, potentially making Virginia the first state in the US to elect a Black woman as its governor.
An Independent candidate, a man name Bobby Junes, is also running for Lieutenant Governor.