State Sen. Emmett Hanger will not be running for re-election in November, ending what will be a 28-year run representing the Shenandoah Valley in the State Senate when his current term expires in January.
“I struggled with this decision because lots of people statewide have encouraged me to run again because of the loss of senior leadership in Richmond that is anticipated next year,” said Hanger, a Republican who was first elected to the State Senate in 1995.
Hanger’s Senate district was redrawn out from under him, as was the case for a number of House and Senate incumbents, in the nonpartisan redistricting that will take effect with the 2023 state legislative cycle.
Hanger, who lives in Mount Solon, would have had to contest another Republican Senate incumbent, Mark Obenshain, in the new Senate District 2.
He contemplated moving into the new Senate District 3, to the point, he said today, of going “so far as to locate a house to purchase in SD3, but ultimately for personal, political and family reasons have decided not to move away from my current community.”
Botetourt County Republican Del. Chris Head had already declared his intention to run for the Republican nomination in Senate District 3, so Hanger would have faced an intraparty challenger if he had gone that route as well.
“While I currently represent, or have represented in the past, at least half of the new Senate District 3, I do not live within those boundaries,” Hanger said. “Where I have lived all of my life, went to school, college, commanded a National Guard infantry company, my church, my Ruritan Club, my business, where 6 of my 16 grandchildren live, in essence ‘my community,’ are all in Senate District 2.”
Left unsaid here is that Hanger has, in recent cycles, been a much better November candidate than June candidate.
The moderate conservative Hanger had to fight off stiff challenges from the far right in 2007 and 2019, and had two opponents trying to outflank him from the right in 2015.
Looking at Hanger’s possible primary opponents – Head, in Senate District 3, has already been running TV ads touting his support for the Second Amendment, opposition to abortion and “fighting liberal tax-and-spend policies that have gotten us into this mess,” and Obenshain, in Senate District 2, has been controversially out front on the push from Virginia Republicans to restrict abortion rights, and he’s also good at regurgitating Second Amendment GOP boilerplate.