Breaking down the three-way race for Republican Senate nomination in the 24th District

state-capitol2A third candidate has entered the race for th3e 24th Senate District Republican nomination: Dan Moxley, a former chair of the Augusta County Republican Committee who owns a small business based in Pennsylvania.

Moxley enters a race with another announced candidate, Marshall Pattie, a member of the Augusta County Board of Supervisors, and incumbent State Sen. Emmett Hanger, who has not formally announced but has indicated that he is likely to run for what would be a sixth term.

Hanger would enter the race as the favorite, though not a prohibitive favorite. The last time he faced an intraparty challenge, in 2007, he narrowly defeated conservative challenger Scott Sayre in a race that cost the two candidates more than half a million dollars combined.

Hanger’s victory was secured largely through crossover votes from moderate Democrats putting him over the top, and he would seem to be in position to benefit again in the June 2015 primary that, while technically for the GOP nomination, would still be open to voters from all corners.

Pattie is the intriguing candidate – a former Augusta County Democratic Committee chair who won election to the Board of Supervisors as an independent in 2011 and switched to the Republican Party two years ago. A business professor at James Madison University, Pattie fits the profile of a sort of Republican Mark Warner, a moderate on social issues with a solid business and management background who can win crossover votes in his own right.

Pattie also has electoral strength in Hanger’s traditional stronghold in northern Augusta County. The North River area that he represents on the Board of Supervisors was a source of Hanger’s narrow win in the 2007 primary, and Pattie won the North River region in his 2011 campaign with 65 percent of the vote in a three-way race that fall.

Moxley is at best a wild card. A newbie to the Valley with limited, and checkered, experience in local politics circles, Moxley is at most the Robert Sarvis in this race, maybe stealing away a couple percent of the vote in a spoiler role.

This one will come down to Hanger and Pattie, a Republican warhorse in Hanger, the first Republican elected to office in Augusta County since Reconstruction when he won the county revenue commissioner post in 1979, and a new-era Republican in Pattie, whose academic and management credentials along with his electability make him a strong candidate as well.

Hanger begins as the favorite, but he will be in for the fight of his political life over the next six-plus months if he is to return to Richmond in 2016.

– Column by Chris Graham

         
 

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