While Sears previously served in Virginia's House of Delegates and is a military vet, while Robinson came from nowhere with only a YouTube channel to his credit, they both share some common qualities besides being both states's first Black Lieutenant Governors.
Robinson has been noted for his virulent anti-gay rhetoric and is associated with an evangelical anti-gay church. Sears was a graduate of evangelical Pat Robertson's Regent University and, in her previous campaigns, ran on her opposition to LGBTQ rights and gay marriage. Sears was endorsed by James Dobson, who founded two of the most prominent and vocal anti-gay political groups, Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council, designated as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
To any of us paying attention, this isn't a surprise.
While Rev. William Barber II has been a prominent and vocal supporter of unity around issues like poverty on the left, the right has been quietly making connections with extremist African-American churches and leaders around their common hate of Muslims and gays and lesbians. This networking is even going on outside US borders, as leaders like Franklin Graham throw support behind churches on the African continent and in Russia pushing regimes for harsh anti-gay legislation that has even included the death penalty.
On the surface, the Republicans can claim "diversity" in their so-called "big tent" by throwing money behind extremist Black conservative candidates, much like their on-again, off-again relationship with the small Log Cabin Republican organization.
If this were Germany in 1933, it would be a little like promoting you have a "Jews for Hitler" wing in your National Socialist party, fighting against gays, gypsies, and degenerate art.
We all can easily see this isn't about "diversity" or a "big tent" - it's solely about divisiveness and pitting voters with common interests against each other to maintain a white, evangelical power structure.
In the 2020 NC election and the 2021 Virginia race, the Democrats were completely unprepared for this, even though the signs were very obviously pointing to this tactic all along.
The campaigns and PACs supporting both Robinson and Sears focused on advertising and promotion that painted them as more mainstream, hard-working candidates "just like them", while, at the same time, running attack ads that associated their opponents with menacing masses of Black protestors, "socialists", illegal immigrants and "others" that would take away "family values".
The Democrats offered no response to this advertising, simply using the same warm, fuzzy "I love my family, education, jobs, and country" ads they always have.
The Republicans have only been able to use this divisive tactic because the NC and Virginia Democrats have been reluctant to tackle race and minority issues at all in campaigns or call out hate-mongering for fear of offending suburban, white "middle of the road" voters, afraid of encroachment of minorities in their white neighborhoods or schools.
I've got news for you - white suburban voters not wanting minorities "in their backyard" aren't going to vote for you, no matter how much you try to bend over backwards to accommodate their racism and bigotry. And, hoping that voters will see through this hate-mongering and "do the right thing" isn't going to work either.
Voters are motivated to get out to the polls if they feel they can make a difference - if their vote will count for something. As it stands, many of the core voting blocs of the Democratic party have plenty of reasons to vote _against_ Republican candidates, but don't see compelling reasons to vote _for_ candidates that "don't have their back".
If liberal candidates and PACs aren't willing to tackle some of these issues about racism and bigotry - and the use of this fear-mongering by Republicans - head on, why would voters that care about these issues spend the time and energy to get out the vote?
Doesn't it encourage some voters to stay home because they feel that these Democratic candidates are just going to let the same hate and extremism just fester and continue, unchecked?
I've talked about this same theme for a few years now, but the NC Democratic party and our candidates just don't seem to get the hint.
This is a make or break issue for liberals in 2022 and beyond. You cannot ignore this any longer.
Will you have our back? Or will you just let this opportunity to get out the vote slip through your fingers?
The recent calls by Democratic figures for Mark Robinson to step down after his incendiary remarks about gays and Jews are a good start. But it's only a start.