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Hala Ayala wins the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor

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DSC02359.JPG Hala Ayala and Selonia Miles primary Election Day

Del. Hala Ayala campaigns outside Swans Creek Elementary School in Dumfries alongside Dumfries Town Councilwoman Selonia Miles.

Hala Ayala, of Woodbridge, will make history as the first woman of color to win the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor in Virginia.

Ayala, 48, came out on top in Tuesday's six-way race for the nomination with 37.13% of the votes counted as of about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday. About 97% of the votes had been counted by the time the vote was called for Ayala.

Del. Sam Rasoul came in second place with 24.27% of the vote, or 102,128 of the ballots, counted so far. Rasoul was followed by fellow Del. Mark Levine, who had garnered 11.3% of the vote, and then by Norkfolk City Councilwoman Andria McClellan, who won about 10.8% of the ballots counted.

Sean Perryman was tracking in fifth place with 7.92% of the ballots counted, while Xavier Warren was in last place with 4.31%, according to still unofficial results from the Virginia Department of Elections.

Ayala is in her second term as a state delegate representing Virginia's 51st District, which stretches from Woodbridge to Nokesville in Prince William County. Ayala grew up in Woodbridge and is a graduate of Woodbridge Senior High School.

Ayala said in an interview Tuesday while greeting voters at Swans Creek Elementary School in Dumfries that she would "hit the ground running" heading into the November general election. 

"We’re here to lead. We’re here to focus on Virginians, not the rhetoric of the last four years: the hate, the discontent, the divide. I’m here to build bridges. I’m here to move forward. I’m here to make sure we navigate out this pandemic successfully," Ayala said.

Ayala will face Winsome Sears, the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor, in November.

Sears became the first African-American woman ever nominated by a major political party for the state's second-highest elected post when she won the GOP nod in an "unassembled convention" in May. 

Ayala was outraised in the race by both Rasoul and Levine. Rasoul was the top fundraiser, hauling in more than $1.8 million for his campaign, while Levine raised nearly $1.4 million, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.

Rasoul also won the endorsement of the Washington Post.

But Ayala won the coveted endorsement of Gov. Ralph Northam, who praised her as a delegate who was able to get things done in the state legislature. Ayala served as the Democrats' chief deputy whip in the House of Delegates.

"They know my record, everything I’ve voted for, everything I’ve championed. They want a pragmatic candidate," Ayala said on Tuesday. 

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