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by Brandon Jarvis

Winsome Sears, the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor refused to say on Thursday if she has received the vaccination for COVID-19 or not. She also attacked the media for asking her about her vaccination status in a statement on Twitter. 

“I encourage everyone to get the vaccine but no one should be forced to disclose their vaccination status, especially not to liberal hack reporters at CNN. The media is trying to carry the water for the failing McAuliffe-Ayala ticket and it won’t work.” Sears tweeted Thursday. 

She also refused to answer the question during an interview with CNN earlier in the day. She called it a “slippery slope” when asked about her status. 

Sears reiterated her refusal to answer again on Twitter. “I won’t disclose my vaccination status and I won’t be bullied by the media,” Sears said. “They want to distract you from Hala Ayala’s support for policies that raise your electricity rates, increase your taxes, and force you to join a union just to get or keep a job. We won’t be distracted.”

Her Democratic opponent Hala Ayala responded in a statement Tuesday afternoon. “Real leadership is about leading by example. Real leadership is not being evasive and hiding from Virginians at a time when they need to hear from you most. Make no mistake: This election is a life or death matter. It’s the deciding factor between whether we move forward and build back better from this pandemic, or if we backslide and the lives and rights of Virginians suffer as a result.”

Election day is less than four weeks away and COVID-19 vaccinations remain a key talking point for the Democratic candidates as polling has shown the majority of Americans support their stance on some degree of vaccine requirements. Glenn Youngkin, the Republican gubernatorial nominee has opposed vaccine requirements but straddles the line by strongly encouraging people to get it. He also revealed that he received the shot and recorded a PSA encouraging people to get the COVID-19 vaccine for a paid advertisement.

“It has been clear for months now that if anti-vaccine advocate Glenn Youngkin and his ticket had their way, our schools would be closing, children would be sick and quarantined, and our economy would be in the ditch,” said a spokesperson for Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic nominee for governor. 

“Terry McAuliffe is going full Handmaid’s Tale. He’s a wannabe dictator who wants to interrogate women about what they do with their own bodies and fire them from their jobs if they don’t let him dictate their personal health care decisions,” said Macaulay Porter, a spokesperson for Youngkin. “Glenn Youngkin continues to encourage every Virginian to choose to join him in getting the COVID vaccine because it’s the best way to save lives.”

This is not the first time that Sears has stepped into the spotlight at the possible detriment of her running mates on the ticket. In September, Sears said during an interview with Newsmax that she would support the Texas-style heartbeat abortion ban if it were presented in the Virginia Senate, the chamber that she is trying to preside over as lieutenant governor. 

Her support of that abortion ban contradicted Youngkin’s stance of banning abortions around 20 weeks when fetuses are believed to begin feeling pain. 

Shortly after that Newsmax interview, Sears fired her entire staff in one night. Since that time, she has been relatively scarce on the campaign trail. She has made a few appearances with the ticket recently, but the CNN article was her first big interview in weeks. 

Polling for November’s elections is showing tight races up and down the ballot. In addition to vaccine positions, candidates on both sides are battling on grounds like public school curriculum, abortions, public safety, election integrity, and more.

The Sears campaign did not respond to requests for comment.

Election day is Nov. 2.

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By vascope