By Lynn R. Mitchell
The June 9th primary in the 24th Senate District will be a contest between Senator Hanger, Augusta County Supervisor Marshall Pattie, and Dan Moxley who has lived in the district only a year. Interestingly, he has picked up backing and endorsements from the tea party who have been notorious for not vetting candidates.
The 24th District is now down to three candidates after Donald Sheets’ announcement that he was dropping out of the race, as reported by Brian Carlton with the News-Virginian (see Senate candidate drops out of race).
Sheets, who had not collected petitions for a primary run, was left high and dry after Judge Elizabeth Dillon dismissed the lawsuit brought by the 24th Senate District legislative committee that would require conventions instead of allowing incumbents to pick their method of nomination. In the case of Senator Emmett Hanger, that request was a primary. The News-Virginian explained:
The idea of holding a convention changed on Thursday, as federal judge Elizabeth Dillon dismissed the legal challenge to what’s referred to as the “Incumbent Protection Act” in Virginia. Under the law, a currently serving politician can decide what form his or her re-election process should take, through either a convention or primary. District 24 Sen. Emmett Hanger had requested a primary earlier this year, while the district’s Republican committee wanted to hold a convention. In dismissing the committee’s challenge, Dillon said they had to follow the Republican Party of Virginia’s Plan, which says that committees can only chose the method “where permitted to do so under Virginia law.”
Tuesday’s News Leader (see Dismissal of lawsuit boosts Hanger’s reelection bid) had more on the nominating process:
Hanger said the choice to have the nomination decided with a primary will involve more people in the crucial ballot race, since the GOP’s candidate will likely win the general election in the heavily conservative 24th Senate District.
State law allows anyone to vote in primaries, so Democrats and independents could vote for the nominee on June 9. The leadership of the Republican committee for the 24th District unsuccessfully sued the state law on those grounds, claiming the open primary violates the Constitutional right of free association.
Hanger thinks the primary could be a way to help the Republican party overcome a division between conservatives on one side who tend to be aligned with the tea party faction and more mainstream Republicans on the other.
“I think it’s a better way to build the party than what we’re accustomed to,” said Hanger said Monday.
“Nowadays there’s a split in the party, and you have one side trying to take advantage of the other … so that a small group of people can decide who the nominee is gonna be,” he said.
Many believe that Hanger is correct.
For background info:
– 24th Senate District: Court upholds laws of Commonwealth, Hanger gets primary
– Primary, or convention in 24th Senate District?
– Emmett Hanger’s district chairs go legal route to convention him
Photo by Lynn R. Mitchell