AFP endorses Emmett Hanger in 24th Senate Republican primary

Emmett Hanger 1Editorial endorsement from the Augusta Free Press

Emmett Hanger bristles when it is suggested that he isn’t a conservative, for good reason. The 20-year veteran of the State Senate of Virginia has the endorsements of the National Rifle Association, the National Federation of Independent Business and the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, among others.

None of those groups are going to be accused anytime soon of being part of any vast left-wing conspiracy.

But our endorsement for Hanger in Tuesday’s Republican primary in the 24th Senate District, which encompasses our base in Augusta County, Staunton and Waynesboro, isn’t based on how conservative Emmett Hanger is or isn’t.

We’re urging a vote for Hanger because it’s not ideology, but getting the job done, that motivates Hanger in his representation of our area in Richmond.

Ideologues in the Republican Party have criticized Hanger for backing a bipartisan Senate reform of the healthcare system that would allow the state to pull down tax dollars paid into the federal treasury by Virginians. The apparent sin in the reform is that it would fund a private option insurance plan that covers more of the working poor, veterans and the disabled who currently fall through the healthcare cracks.

Their criticisms have little to do with traditional conservatism – the bottom-line costs of inaction, which push the uninsured into more costly emergency-room visits, are much, much greater than what the Senate plan proposes – but rather are simply political in nature.

A segment of the Republican Party, the part that is more focused on winning elections than enacting sensible public policy, refuses to accede to anything in the policy sphere that may make Democrats look good in the final accounting, cutting off their noses, and ours, to spite our societal face.

It shouldn’t be praiseworthy for a politician like Emmett Hanger to stand on the side of good policy and to work with Democrats and moderate Republicans to the best interests of all Virginians, but that’s where our politics are now.

Doing the sensible thing is remarkable in this day and age, when the pressure on Republicans from the right and on Democrats from the left is to stand on principle against any sense of progress, open warfare on their fellow Americans being more important at the end of the day than working to build a consensus that makes us all a little better off.

Emmett Hanger will work in Richmond to enact reforms to our healthcare system that reduces the number of uninsured and takes the pressure off hospitals to bear the costs for providing health services to the working poor on their own.

Emmett Hanger will work in Richmond to continue efforts at progress in updating our stressed transportation system, investments into which make us all better off by making Virginia that much more friendly and open for business and the free flow of commerce.

Emmett Hanger will work in Richmond to strengthen public education, in the face of efforts by extremists to starve public schools of funding, and working across the aisle to put the focus in the classroom back on learning, and not so much on taking tests, an effort that Hanger has been a leader on for more than a decade.

Emmett Hanger will work in Richmond to promote conservation and environmental policies that preserve and protect open space, clean air and the Chesapeake Bay, in the tradition of the original environmentalist, Teddy Roosevelt.

We know that Emmett Hanger will work to achieve these sensible policies because he’s been doing just that in the State Senate for the past 20 years.

Our politics has gotten more and more toxic since Hanger’s first State Senate election in 1995. Policy has increasingly taken a backseat to putting up a big number on the mythical political scoreboard in the sky that nobody ever really wins, least of us those of us out here in the real world who are more focused on our families, our health, our homes, our jobs, our lives, than on which side made the other look bad today and who will have the upper hand tomorrow.

We need more Emmett Hangers in Richmond and Washington, but right now we can only do something about the one that is on the ballot in the 24th Senate District.

Vote Emmett Hanger on Tuesday, and send him back to Richmond to continue his work on behalf of our many best interests.

– Written by Chris Graham

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