Earl Sears is Virginia’s most prominent Republican public official to break with Trump, who is largely unpopular in the state as a whole but has remained firmly in control of the Republican base.
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She made her stand for the first time in an interview with Fox Business earlier Thursday. Her remarks drew a harsh rebuke from Trump’s spokesman, who issued a written statement.
“Winsome Sears has won President Trump’s voter support in 2021,” the statement said. “Her comments are a slap in the face to all the grassroots Republicans who worked so hard to get her elected. They won’t forget it, And there will be reckoning. There will always be politics.”
Trump’s most prominent supporters in the state reacted violently, vowing to retaliate against Earl Sears and the governor. Glenn Youngkin (R), who appears to be weighing a 2024 presidential bid. If he wins the White House, Earl Sears will complete his term as governor.
Radio host John Fredericks, who chaired Trump’s 2016 and 2020 Virginia campaigns, said he thought Yankin had Earle-Sears for comment.
“If you think Winsome Sears did it without the approval of Glenn Youngkin, you’d be naive,” Fredericks said. “Here’s his salvo for the presidency. Good luck beating the Trumps in Virginia. We’ll crush him in his own form.”
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When asked if Youngkin knew in advance that she would publicly break up with Trump, Earl-Sears declined to say.
“I don’t say ‘yes’ and I don’t say ‘no’,” she said. “I’ll leave it alone.”
A spokesman for Youngkin did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Sears, a former state representative and Marine who is a Jamaican immigrant, was re-elected president of the Black America two years ago and won the lieutenant governor last year on the vote led by Youngkin.
In addition to Trump, “we have a lot of very qualified people” running for the White House, Earl Sears said. Earle-Sears didn’t answer directly when asked if she counted Youngkin.
“Well, you know I support my family,” she said with a smile. “I don’t support anyone.”
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Youngkin walked a tightrope with Trump as he tried to appeal to the former president’s fans and enemies, often with sharp words, avoiding policy details and conveying a suburban dad vibe with his signature red vest.
Earle-Sears is his antithesis, as outspoken as Youngkin. Her signature campaign accessory is an assault rifle strapped to her shirt and skirt, and the photo is affixed to the campaign logo. Earlier this year, Earl Sears terrified the Virginia Senate with one of her high heels after a prankster hid her gavel.
Earle-Sears said she still speaks highly of what Trump has accomplished for black Americans, crediting his administration for the increase in black entrepreneurship and the decline in black unemployment during his presidency.
“I’m all over the country, campaigning for him, trying to win over black voters because he’s done so well for us,” she said. “But you know, in the end, he lost and we moved on. We want him to move on as well.”
Earl Sears’ comments came a day after Del. Tim Anderson (R-Virginia Beach) denies the former president he once made for himself: “I should have said this two years ago,” he told Virginia Mercury.
State Sen. Amanda F. Chase (R-Chesterfield), a self-described “Trump in high heels,” blasted Anderson and Earl Sears as “weak… Republicans” people”.