By, NBC News
Republican Jason Miyares, the son of a Cuban refugee, defeated the Democratic incumbent to become Virginia’s first Latino attorney general and the first Hispanic elected statewide.
Miyares was officially declared the winner on Wednesday afternoon by NBC News after a very tight race.
Miyares had rooted his campaign in his mother’s flight from Cuba in 1965, saying often on the campaign trail that it was where his story started.
He congratulated his mom in a victory statement late Tuesday night. “Mom, you did well.” She arrived from Cuba 56 years ago “with nothing but a dream, a dream for a better life for her family,” he said.
“Now I stand here today — elected to be the attorney general of the Commonwealth of Virginia,” Miyares said, referring to himself as the “first-ever son of an immigrant and the first Latino elected statewide in the Commonwealth’s history.”
With the win, Miyares, a Virginia House delegate and former prosecutor, denied Democrat Attorney General Mark Herring a third term.
Miyares’ win was part of the Republican victory in the state, with GOP gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin defeating Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe.
Miyares had made history as the first Cuban American elected to Virginia’s General Assembly, in 2015. He represented the 82nd District in the House, which is about 83 percent white, 10.3 percent Black, 3.3 percent Asian and 5.3 percent Hispanic.
Miyares took a hard line on law enforcement issues, including attempts at police reforms. But the campaign was mired by Miyares’ attempts to tie Herring to allegations of misconduct by the state parole board, even though Herring has no power over the parole board’s decisions.
“On Day one, we’ll work toward a safe and secure Virginia and ending the criminal first, victim last mindset,” he stated. “Virginia has spoken. We want safe streets, we want our police to be well trained and supported in the community and we want the rule of law respected. I intend on delivering on my campaign promises.”
Democrats had hoped to be the first to elect a Latino to a statewide position, but Hala Ayala lost her bid for lieutenant governor to Winsome Sears, who is the first woman and first Black woman elected to the post.
Ayala, who identifies as Afro Latina, had already made history in 2017 when she was one of the first two Latinas elected to the state House of Delegates.
The other Latina elected that year, Elizabeth Guzman, won her House of Delegates race in District 31 Tuesday. Alfonso Lopez, also won his race in District 49.
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