Winsome Sears wins convention to become Republican nominee for Virginia lieutenant governor

The Republican Party of Virginia nominated Winsome Sears (R) for lieutenant governor at their May 8 convention. Sears defeated Puneet Ahluwalia (R), Lance Allen (R), Glenn Davis (R), Tim Hugo (R), and Maeve Rigler (R). She was announced as the winner on May 11 after she defeated Hugo in the fifth round of ranked-choice voting with 54.4% of the vote to Hugo’s 45.6%.

Due to coronavirus crowd-size restrictions, the 2021 Virginia Republican convention was an unassembled convention held across 39 satellite locations. Unlike previous conventions in the state, there was no limit on how many delegates could cast votes, which were weighted according to the number of delegate votes allocated to each locality.

Delegates cast a single ballot using ranked-choice voting instead of holding multiple rounds of voting. In a ranked-choice vote, voters rank their preferred options rather than picking one. Ballot-counting takes place in rounds, with each voters’ first-place preference receiving their vote in the first round. If one candidate has more than 50% of votes, they win the election outright. Otherwise, the last-place finisher is eliminated and their votes redistributed among their voters’ next choices. The process is repeated until one candidate wins more than 50%.

Sears is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and a former member of the Virginia House of Delegates, serving from 2002 to 2004. She served on the Advisory Committee on Women Veterans to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, as vice president of the Virginia Board of Education, and as a presidential appointee to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The lieutenant governor serves as the president of the Virginia State Senate and may cast tie-breaking votes. The lieutenant governor is first in the line of succession to the governor. In the event the governor dies, resigns, or otherwise leaves office, the lieutenant governor becomes governor. Of the four lieutenant governors who have been elected since 2002, three were Democrats and one was a Republican.

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