Field narrowing in Virginia GOP lieutenant governor nominee race which includes Indian American candidate

GOP delegates line up in their cars to cast ballots at the party’s largest convention site in Fairfax County, Va., on Saturday. MUST CREDIT: Washington Post photo by Bill O’Leary.

RICHMOND, Va. – Former Virginia delegate Winsome Sears held a commanding lead after the first round of counting in the Republican Party’s nomination contest for lieutenant governor, potentially lending an extra conservative bite to a statewide ticket topped by businessman Glenn Youngkin as the nominee for governor.

Sears (Norfolk) – a former Marine whose campaign ad shows her gripping an assault rifle – led in a ranked-choice balloting process that eliminates the lowest vote-getter in each successive round.

Fairfax County entrepreneur Maeve Rigler was eliminated from the race shortly after 1 p.m.

Sears goes on to the next round, along with fellow candidates Timothy Hugo, a former delegate from Fairfax, Del. Glenn Davis of Virginia Beach, national security company executive Lance Allen, and Fairfax businessman Puneet Ahluwalia. Rounds of counting will continue, with the candidate with the lowest vote count dropping off, until a nominee emerges.

Republican activist Puneet Ahluwalia is seeking his party’s nomination for Lt. Gov. of Virginia. (Photo: Twitter)

The winner of the nomination contest for the second-highest office in Virginia will join a GOP ticket that includes Youngkin as the nominee for governor and Del. Jason Miyares as the candidate for attorney general – what Republicans hope will be part of a return to power in Richmond that will set the tone for the 2022 midterm elections.

The candidates for lieutenant governor all cast themselves as a future standard-bearer for the party, a reflection of the fact that the office is often a launchpad for a run for governor.

The duties of lieutenant governor entail presiding over the Senate and taking over as head of the state’s executive branch if the governor resigns or become incapacitated.

Going into Saturday’s unassembled convention, Davis and Hugo were the two better-financed candidates.

The nomination race was clouded toward the end by an anonymous text sent to convention delegates that appeared to seek support for Hugo falsely accused Davis of being “a gay Democrat” while highlighting Davis’s support for a repeal of the state’s defunct ban on same-sex marriage.

The text resembled a Hugo mailer that used the same image of Davis wearing a rainbow-striped shirt at a 2019 LGBTQ festival while calling him too liberal. But Hugo said the anonymous message didn’t come from him, calling it “ridiculous and offensive,” and expressed support for a defamation lawsuit filed by Davis that seeks to learn who was behind it.

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