Election night 2021 was a resounding victory for the Republican party, and Black Republican candidates were a part of the “Red Wave” that swept through Virginia and the nation. By the end of the night at least four Black Republicans emerged victorious in their races.
Trailblazer Winsome Sears made history as the first Black woman to be elected Lieutenant Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia. While that’s impressive enough on its own, that was not her first groundbreaking feat as a candidate in Virginia. Sears was first elected to a majority Black legislative district as a Republican. She was able to connect with the community and make her case to lead them in Richmond — and her efforts worked. Jamaican-born, she is a proud, wife, mother, and Marine. Sears’ leadership has proven to be a winning part of her appeal, and her strong support of HBCUs is important in Virginians.
Sears’ victory speech last night encapsulated what her journey means: “What you are looking at is the American Dream. When my father came to this country in 1963, he arrived at the height of the Civil Rights Movement from Jamaica. He came because he knew America was the place for jobs and opportunities.”
In addition to a Black Republican woman winning statewide for the first time in Virginia’s history, local candidates likeA.C. Cordoza (VA-91), Donald Douglas (KY,SD-22), and Jalen Johnson (Albany City Commission-II) all won their races. Their victories show the nation that the GOP is growing and increasingly diverse. These candidates can win in blue states and in areas that are not traditionally known for supporting Republicans, as was the case for rising GOP star Jalen Johnson in Georgia.
All told, there were half a dozen Black candidates who won their primaries for elections across the country. While not all of them won, they still ran great races and play an important role in the party.
In Virginia, Tanya Gould had a strong performance — she lost by just a few hundred votes in her race – which means her voice was connecting with voters and that we must keep up the fight. Even candidates like Laverne Gore in Ohio, who was a passionate champion for change in her district, won over 20,000 votes. 20,000 people connected with a Republican message and that number will only grow. We must focus both on short and long-term gains. There is no doubt that Laverne Gore’s race will make a difference for the future of the GOP in Ohio and in the 2022 and 2024 elections.
Vice President Kamala Harris has been wrong about many things in her current role but when it comes to her political instincts in Virginia, she was correct when she told a crowd gathered at a rally, “what happens in Virginia will, in large part, determine what happens in 2022, 2024, and on.”
We have the roadmap to win. According to CNN exit polls, Glenn Youngkin won 13% of the Black vote in a blue state. Additionally, Youngkin made a point to connect with Black leaders like Former Governor Douglas Wilder, who said he only got a perfunctory call from Democrat Terry McAuliffe and had multiple calls with Youngkin focusing on HBCUs.
When I saw the list of all the meetings, roundtables, calls, listening sessions, visits, and serious minority engagement efforts that Youngkin and Sears made I was impressed. Their victory is not a surprise when you look at the work, they put in on the ground to connect with all voters.
Glenn Youngkin and Winsome Sears ran on issues that all Virginians, especially Black Virginians, care about.
Empowering parents and supporting Parental choice in education matters to Black voters.
Creating jobs and lowering burdensome taxes matters to Black voters.
Eliminating the tax on food given the rising cost of groceries in America matters to Black voters.
Fully funding HBCUs in every budget proposal matters to Black voters.
Rejecting calls to defund the police and creating more opportunities for communities to be safe matters to Black voters.
As we move into the midterms, we have the winning playbook. Black Republicans will be a major part of the narrative as they help our party continue to connect with new voters who are rejecting a dangerous progressive agenda that is radical and out of step with our values.
I am proud that the RNC remains committed to expanding our party, supporting our Black Republican leaders, and having meaningful engagement through our RNC Black American Community Centers as we look towards the future with the hopes that more Black Republicans will win big in 2022.
Paris Dennard is the National Spokesperson and Director of Black Media Affairs for the Republican National Committee (RNC). Follow him on Twitter: @PARISDENNARD.