Two women vie to become the first female lieutenant governor in Virginia history

Two women vie to become the first female lieutenant governor in Virginia history This photo combo shows, from left, Hala Ayala, the Virginia Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor and Winsome Sears, the Virginia Republican nominee for lieutenant governor. Hala Ayala and Winsome Sears are running to become Virginia’s next lieutenant governor.

The election of either candidate would be historic – a woman has never served in this role.

Ayala carved out a career as a cybersecurity specialist, while Sears is a businesswoman.

For months, Virginia voters have watched former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin slug it out in the state’s highly-competitive gubernatorial election .

But there’s also a race just as fascinating on the same ballot.

Democratic state Del. Hala Ayala and former GOP state Del. Winsome Sears are the respective nominees for their parties in the lieutenant governor’s race, and the election of either woman would represent a huge milestone in the Commonwealth – whoever is elected would be the first woman to hold the position, as well as the first woman of color elected to statewide office.

Ayala, a longtime federal cybersecurity specialist who identifies as Afro-Latina, Lebanese, and Irish, first ran for office in 2017; she was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates alongside a wave of Democrats who were concerned about the conservative bent of the legislature and the direction of the country under then-President Donald Trump.

Sears, a businesswoman and Marine Corps veteran, is seeking a return to politics, having served one term in the House of Delegates from 2002 to 2004 and running unsuccessfully for a US House seat in 2004.

While Ayala has allied herself with her Democratic ticketmates, including former Gov. Terry McAuliffe and two-term state Attorney General Mark Herring, Sears has campaigned extensively with her ticket, which features Republican gubernatorial nominee Glenn Youngkin and state Del. Jason Miyares, the GOP nominee for state Attorney General.

If elected, Ayala hopes to work with legislators to expand access to health care, enact climate change initiatives, and increase funding for apprenticeship and internship programs, among other proposals.

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