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Virginia Lt. Governor's race: Where do the candidates stand?

No matter who is elected, she will make history being the first woman to serve in that role.

NORFOLK, Va. — Election Day is two weeks away and while the governor's race is getting most of the attention, there are other important races on the ballot.

Virginia's lieutenant governor is in the line of succession and would take over if the governor can't perform his or her duties. That person is also president of the Senate, runs the floor sessions, and is someone who could be the tie-breaking vote over controversial issues.

RELATED: Early voting begins in Virginia for the November elections

Two women of color are on the ballot to be Virginia's next lieutenant governor: Republican Winsome Sears is facing off against Democrat Hala Ayala.

No matter who is elected, she will make history being the first woman to serve in that role.

Ayala, a cybersecurity specialist, currently represents Prince William County in the Virginia House of Delegates. On her website, Ayala's top three issues are to tackle gun violence, provide quality affordable health care, and strengthen schools.

Sears, a former U.S. Marine, represented Norfolk in the House of Delegates from 2002 to 2004. On her website, Sears' top three issues are to create good-paying jobs, cut costs for families, and open and strengthen schools.

One big area of disagreement between the two candidates is over vaccine mandates.

Earlier this month, Sears publicly refused to say whether she has received the COVID-19 vaccine, and Ayala quickly responded by calling her an "anti-science extremist."  

In the most recent Christopher Newport University Wason Center For Civic Leadership poll published on October 8, Ayala led Sears, 48 percent to 44 percent with 8 percent still undecided.

Dr. Soji Akomolafe is chairman of the Political Science Department at Norfolk State University. He said for the candidates, this isn't really about wanting the number two job. It's about wanting the number one job.

"And they wait patiently for when these four years are going to be over, and then, it's going to be their turn to run for governor," he said.

Early voting is already underway in Virginia. The general election is Tuesday, November 2, 2021.