‘I Look Like the Strategy’: Winsome Sears Wants Black Voters to Rethink the G.O.P.

 
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The incoming lieutenant governor of Virginia was an unlikely candidate: a deeply conservative Black woman, and an immigrant, who supports Donald Trump.

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She stood to the right of much of the field and was arguably the furthest right of the three Republicans nominated for statewide office. She favors strict limits on abortion, calling Democratic abortion policies “wicked”; she is an advocate of vouchers to help students pay for private school tuition and of tighter restrictions on voting; and she insists that gun control laws do not deter crime — gun ownership does. A photo that went viral last spring, showing her holding an AR-15 while wearing a blazer-and-dress outfit suitable for a Chamber of Commerce luncheon, propelled her as much as anything to the Republican nomination.

Ms. Sears derides the left as too concerned with race but often explains her politics as rooted in Black history, stressing Marcus Garvey’s rhetoric on self-reliance as a Jamaican immigrant in Jim Crow America, emphasizing that Harriet Tubman carried a gun and referring to the infamous Tuskegee experiments in explaining her opposition to Covid-19 vaccine mandates. “If the Democrats are always going to talk about race, then let’s talk about it,” she said.

She rejects the notion that the problems Republicans have attracting Black voters might run deeper than mere neglect. She was angered when Republicans nominated Corey Stewart, who had a history of associating with Neo-Confederates, for the 2018 U.S. Senate race in Virginia. But she said this didn’t give her qualms about the party. She remains a champion of Mr. Trump, who openly endorsed Mr. Stewart; indeed, she was the national chairwoman of a group called “Black Americans to Re-elect the President.”

Jennifer McClellan, a Democratic state senator from Richmond, agreed that Democrats could not assume that Black people would show up for them at the polls, saying that Black voters, like any voters, choose candidates based on who they believe is going to help solve their problems. But, she continued, little that Ms. Sears has said suggests she would be that person in office.

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