Emmett Hanger wins Republican nomination in heated 24th Senate District race

Emmett HangerState Sen. Emmett Hanger assumed he was facing the fight of his political life, but the six-term Republican incumbent ended up winning his party’s nomination in convincing fashion in Tuesday’s 24th Senate District primary.

Hanger was polling at just under 58 percent in his two-candidate race with Tina Freitas, a Culpeper County Republican activist and the wife of State Del. Nick Freitas.

Freitas had run against Hanger from the right, framing herself as a “conservative we can trust,” and trying to pigeonhole Hanger as an establishment Republican and out of touch with voters in the district.

Hanger fought back hard, reporting $314,255 in campaign expenditures for the April 1-May 30 period alone, from a campaign warchest of more than $527,000 raised during the 2016-2019 cycle.

Freitas raised a more than respectable $124,398 for her campaign, and seemed to have a bit of an advantage going in, with the expectation that turnout in the primary would lean more to the right-of-center, with Hanger’s appeal more among moderate voters who typically sit out primary elections.

In the end, Hanger was able to beat back this challenge much more easily than he did his most recent significant primary challenge, in 2007, when he defeated Scott Sayre, Jill Holtzman Vogel and Mark Tate in a four-way race, receiving 46.2 percent of the vote, to Sayre’s 40.9 percent, Holtzman Vogel’s 8.3 percent and Tate’s 4.6 percent.

Hanger also faced two opponents for the Republican nomination in 2015, Dan Moxley and Marshall Pattie, but received a convincing 60.3 percent of the vote to win that three-way race.

Hanger will next face Madison County Democrat Annette Hyde, whose political experience to this point is a brief campaign for the Democratic Party nomination in the 30th House District in 2017. She lost that race to Samuel Hixon, who then lost to Nick Freitas in the November 2017 election, garnering just 37.8 percent of the vote in the blowout loss.

Hyde has reported limited campaign activity since winning the Democratic Party nomination. Her campaign reported having raised just $16,853 through May 30.

Hanger has not faced a Democratic opponent in a November general election since 2007. He defeated Democrat David Cox and Libertarian Arin Sime, receiving 65.4 percent in that three-way race.

Story by Chris Graham

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