LeadershipBroadsheetDiversity and InclusionCareersVenture Capital

Winsome Sears makes history by becoming the first woman of color to serve as Virginia’s lieutenant governor

November 3, 2021, 7:07 PM UTC

Winsome Sears became Virginia’s first woman and first woman of color to win the post of lieutenant governor, after the Republican ex-Marine narrowly defeated Democratic challenger Hala Ayala. 

With nearly all precincts reporting, Sears, a former chairwoman of a group of Black Americans who sought to re-elect Donald Trump, held a thin 51,672 vote margin over Ayala on Wednesday. She posed for campaign ads in a dress and suit jacket and holding a military-style rifle.

Sears, 57, was the first Republican elected to the Virginia House of Delegates from a majority-Black district since 1865, according to her campaign website

“It’s a historic night, yes it is, but I didn’t run to make history,” Sears said in a victory speech early Wednesday. “I just wanted to leave it better than I found it.”

She added: “I’m telling you that what you are looking at is the American dream.” 

The former delegate, who was born in Jamaica and raised in the Bronx, said during the campaign she didn’t believe people should be required to disclose whether they have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

She was elected independently of Governor-Elect Glenn Youngkin, who defeated former governor Terry McAuliffe early Wednesday to become the first Republican elected governor since 2009. Bob McDonnell was governor from 2010 to 2014, replaced by McAuliffe.

Virginia’s closely watched gubernatorial race is being followed as a bellwether for next year’s mid-term elections. Five of the past 10 lieutenant governors rose to the top job.  

Sears narrowly defeated Ayala, a House of Delegates member and former Department of Homeland Security cybersecurity specialist.

More politics coverage from Fortune:

Subscribe to Fortune Daily to get essential business stories straight to your inbox each morning.