Elephant Ears

This blog is dedicated to the political happenings in the Valley and Southwest Virginia. As the the name implies, this blog will have posts based on what is heard by this elephant's (GOPer's) ears. It is also a great treat to get while at the county fair or a carnival.

Monday, February 05, 2007

24th District Primary

In the central Shenandoah Valley there will be a Senate primary this year as well. It will be between incumbent Senator Emmett Hanger and Lexington/Buena Vista businessman Scott Sayre.

Like all the other primaries, this one centers around Hanger's support of the tax increase in '04 and also original support for Chichester's tax plan in the past 2 years.
A few other things surrounding this race are that some people in this district are mad at the way Emmett handled his LG run in 2005, where he waited until March to begin gathering petition signatures (and we all know how that turned out). One other small thing was his castration bill last year has some people wondering what he is doing in Richmond.

Sayre is originally from Waynesboro, now lives in Lexington, and runs a business in Buena Vista. This should be a good set up for him, since he should know people in a couple different parts of the district starting out.

Other advantages Sayre enjoys are having the Rockingham Chairman and VCAP board member Mike Meredith in the district, as well as anti-tax millionaire Walter Curt nearby to give plenty of dough to his campaign. Many of the committee members in these locales are very ticked off at Emmett so he should also have a good base of supporters starting out. One final advantage is the solid GOP lean of the district, which like we have seen in other districts, should prevent concern of losing a seat by ousting an incumbent. A GOP will win this seat no matter who runs.

Hanger enjoys having a good bit of the business community still behind him, as well as the "evangelical" community. This area is very socially conservative, and that probably favors Hanger. Like most other incumbents, no one is questioning his socially conservative creditials. Also, Emmett has lived in Augusta County his entire life and has alot of friends there as well. Lastly, due to the strong GOP lean here, there will likely be alot of dems voting for Hanger in the primary; to get the "less of 2 evils" in office.

One final note on the campaign issues. Hanger just put himself in a pretty good position by voting against both "tax increases" in committee. Emmett can now say he voted against 2 tax increase proposals recently. The fact that NOVA won't get more road money due to his votes will have zero effect in this district, which made the vote all the more brillant.

On the money front Hanger only has $40,840 on hand, which is a drop in the bucket for a Senate race. That should give Sayre the ability to get closer to matching Hanger; especially if he can convince Mr. Curt to open his wallet for him.

Yet again, I give Hanger the early advantage here; and he is probably safer than some of the other incumbents. Even so, Sayre may make this an interesting race.


  • At 2/05/2007 3:13 PM, Anonymous finnegan said…

    It's a little too early to tell how this will go yet. Sayre has no real momentum built up at this point, just buzz.

    There were rumors that Sime was going to try to get the Republican nomination, but I think he's just going to run as a Libertarian against Hanger (or Sayre, in the off-chance he can get the nomination). What would make this more interesting is if a viable Democrat stepped up (not Steven "Blue Dog" Sisson) and made this a three-way race.

  • At 2/05/2007 5:04 PM, Blogger GOPHokie said…

    There really aren't any "viable" dems in the area.
    Rockingham Supervisor Mike Breeden is already running against Del Landes and the only other person I know of would be Staunton City Council member Bruce Elder; who got romped by Saxman in 05.

  • At 2/05/2007 5:17 PM, Anonymous mytwocents said…

    Just my two cents, but if Hanger still has solid support from the evangelicals and "religious right" in his district I don't think a challenger can just run on an anti-tax stance and win. This association with the religious right cannot be underestimated and is especially important in the valley were some care much more about life issues than taxes.

    In my opinion it takes more than just one factor to scare and come close or knock off an incumbent. The religious right is arguable just as important in the fiscal right her in the valley. Russ Pott's downfall has been his abortion stances NOT just his pro tax stance. I would say more evangelical and Catholic type people came out per say just to vote for Pott's challenger last time based on his stances for life issues. That is why Hanger will have a much easier time of it than Potts or other so called RINO's who are pro-tax and lean pro-choice.

  • At 2/05/2007 6:03 PM, Anonymous Jamie Radtke said…


    I have really enjoyed your objective analysis of all the races. Thanks for being so diligent in your coverage.

    You pointed out that Hanger voted against the recent gas tax increase, but I don't think he can escape from the fact that he killed the Republican transportation compromise. He will have a hard time explaining that vote, especially since it included VDOT and land use reforms and spending cuts.

  • At 2/05/2007 6:53 PM, Anonymous mytwocents said…

    I am certainly no Hanger fan but he will be fine. Yes, he voted for the gas tax increase but he also has very strong ties to the "religious right"
    I personally think you need to have both religious and fiscal conservatives on board before any primary fight will be successful. Thowing a ton of money into a potential race here would be a complete waste of good resources in my opinion.

  • At 2/05/2007 7:10 PM, Blogger GOPHokie said…

    MTC, you are correct in your analysis. Social conservativism is probably more important to the GOP base in the valley.
    Jamie, thanks for the kind words. I agree parts of the bill were good and he will have to answer to voting against them; but most western Va reps can say that this plan raised fees on everyone while only helping NOVA/Tidewater. That will not enrage them too much when they find out Emmett voted against that.

  • At 2/05/2007 9:56 PM, Blogger Elle said…

    What makes you think he has the religious right on his side?

    And if he is so conservative, how do you explain his vote to reinstate Potts of Chair of the Health Committee?

  • At 2/06/2007 12:33 AM, Blogger Politicl.Animal said…

    Well, Elle, maybe this is the chance y'all in SWACland have been waiting for: can the bloggers take out a sitting state senator?

    I predict Sen. Hanger will win, because Mr. Sayre is unknown in Highland and Augusta and Rockingham. Now maybe Meredith swings Rockingham against Hanger, and maybe Del. Saxman swings Staunton against Hanger, too.

    But when Sen. Hanger calls in all the favors he's accumulated since 1995, and rural Augusta comes out to vote, you're going to see the power of incumbency versus the power of the blogs.

    And then Sen. Hanger will go back to Richmond.

  • At 2/06/2007 12:57 AM, Blogger GOPHokie said…

    Elle, Emmett voted against Potts' chairmanship:

    Now I will give you that it was a set-up vote and there were probably more votes if they were needed; but thats a moot point.
    Bottom line: Emmett Hanger didn't vote for Potts.

  • At 2/06/2007 10:19 AM, Blogger Elle said…

    EE--you are right--it was a set-up vote. Regardless, the support is there.

    Sounds like you're an Emmett fan. Care to extol on his virtues? And, will you please expound on your previous statement that he has support from the religious right?

  • At 2/06/2007 10:33 AM, Blogger GOPHokie said…

    Well to answer your question I like Emmett yes. I don't like some of things he has done recently, but this post is giving an unbiased snapshot of the race.
    The bottom line comment was what he can say if challenged on it.
    You cant attack someone for something they didnt technically do.
    As for his support of the religious right, where is someone attacking him for not upholding "family values"?

  • At 2/06/2007 11:06 AM, Blogger Elle said…

    EE--not HIS support of the religious right--their support of him. You said in your post:

    "Hanger enjoys having a good bit of the business community still behind him, as well as the "evangelical" community."

    I'm just curious as to why you stated that. What gives you that impression?

  • At 2/06/2007 12:00 PM, Blogger James Atticus Bowden said…

    The lines are never clean in this intramural fight (or civil war depending on your metaphor). I helped to dispose of the 2nd incumbent to lose a primary since Reconstruction in 01.

    People I thought would be with me, couldn't shake their loyalty once they had voted for the incumbent. Like it was a spell.

    Others who I thought would oppose were enthusiastic based on the timely issues.

    Lots of hard feelings on both sides that heal slowly - and some never.

    But, it was worth it. Worth every life long 'Republican' political enemy.

    If elected officials can't be trusted on principles, then they need to be replaced. They will be eventually anyway. We all are.

    Baring unforeseen revelations about small furry creatures and compromising positions, best wishes, Mr. Sayre.

  • At 2/06/2007 2:09 PM, Blogger GOPHokie said…

    Elle, b/c no one is talking about it. The Family Foundation isn't sending out press releases on why Sen Hanger needs to be ousted, etc.
    Once you have someone's support; you pretty much have it until you piss them off.

  • At 2/06/2007 3:12 PM, Anonymous mytwocents said…

    In fairness, the health and education committee is the "roadblock" for all abortion and almost all pro-family legislation in the senate. An abortion related bill essentially never or rarely sees the light of day on the full senate floor. Potts and company make sure of this.

    I do agree that if Hanger had a problem with social conservatism I guarantee you would be rightly hearing from the social conservative organizations like the Family Foundation. If you don't serve on the Health and Education committee your hands are essentially tied in the senate. In the end this total lack of social conservatism primarily will be Pott's demise but it certainly also helps that he raises taxes as well. I do think Pott's could get away with his more liberal economic policies if he was 100% pro life. This is the big difference between Hanger and Pott's here in the Valley.

  • At 2/06/2007 5:06 PM, Blogger Elle said…

    GOPHOKIE--ahhh, just because something isn't public, doesn't mean it isn't being whispered about in private.

    I am pretty certain that you will start to see a shift.

    And 2 cents, you are correct about Potts. These guys get into Richmond and think they are untouchable (which for the most part they are due to an uniformed or bored or lazy or unconcerned electorate.

  • At 2/07/2007 5:49 PM, Anonymous gop_duke said…

    Any theories why there has been no leadership from the Augusta Co. republican chair in supporting Sayre? He's their dream come true..

  • At 2/07/2007 6:23 PM, Blogger GOPHokie said…

    Well I don't know if Sayre is official yet; so you may see more when the official announcement is made.

  • At 2/08/2007 12:23 AM, Blogger spankthatdonkey said…

    You may want to consider that Chris Saxman (who is universally liked in Staunton and Augusta County) supported Connaughton for LG in primary...

    Bill Bolling crushed the vote here, and it was pretty much an anti-tax question between him and Connaughton...

    I do not know Sayre's position on the social issues.... That will be the key... if he is a social Conservative, and convinces the 'powers that be', that they have nothing to fear...

    Senator Hanger will be in trouble...

    The blogs will not be a factor in the race... but who publishes the blogs... Might give you a hint as to the 'mood' you might say, of the primary electorate :-)

  • At 3/23/2007 11:26 PM, Anonymous richard said…

    You might find that there are other factors that will play a large part in Hangers downfall. Such as his failure to act upon recomendations by JLARC to correct problems within the Department of Health and Human Resources which Child Protective Services is a part of. For the past 4 years of which he has been the Chairmen of the Senate Committee over that department and being that CPS has failed several AUDITS BY JLARC and his failure to act upon any of the recomendations (not one item of legislation)I believe he has failed to do his job. Why do I believe that? Because I asked him to look into a situation involving the rape and sodomizing of a 12 year old girl and the molesting of her 4 year old sister by a half-brother and a cousin both who were 16. A crooked judge, a crooked retired Augusta County Sheriff Investigator a tramp mother and CPS out of control and the boys never spent a day in jail. It has been 2 years into the fight and now the US Justice Department Child Exploitation Division is going to investigate. If Hanger is part of the coverup maybe we won't have to worry abot him being a factor in the election. Hanger responded to my request with one of his good ol'e boy e-mails then chose to ignore further requests via e-mail, phone, fax or letter. I have all the letters and proof. Ask Hanger why he wants to talk to me so bad. Here is his private cell # 540-476-5090


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