Winners and losers in the 24th GOP primary

Column by Chris Graham

Emmett Hanger beat back the challenge of Scott Sayre to win renomination as the Republican Party standard-bearer in the 24th Senate District on Tuesday – but you knew that already.
What you’re waiting for is a rundown of the winners and losers across the board – because as we all know, it’s not just the candidates who are out there competing in a given election.
Here goes …

LOSER: Scott Sayre

This one should be obvious. He gave it a good fight, but he didn’t get 50 percent plus one vote.

WINNER: Scott Sayre

Hey, give the guy credit. Nobody had heard of him four months ago – and when he first started thinking about making a run at elected office, it was the Rockbridge County Board of Supervisors.

So he runs for the Senate nomination against a three-term incumbent who was thought of as recently as two years ago as a possible statewide candidate, and comes within a whisker of knocking him off.

WINNER: Emmett Hanger

Again, obvious.

LOSER: Emmett Hanger

He won, but 53 percent of the vote isn’t going to scare off the antitaxers in 2011 – especially now that they’ve tasted blood with their upsets of Brandon Bell in the 22nd and Marty Williams in the First.

LOSER: Republican Party committee chairs

You don’t always see party leaders getting involved even to the level of a whisper campaign when two people are duking it out for a party nomination.

Seven of the eight Republican Party committee chairs endorsed Sayre over Hanger – but they didn’t stop there. Their voices were used in radio spots, their presence was felt at media opportunities … and now that their chosen candidate has lost, you have to wonder when the purge that the News-Leader seems to be egging on will commence.

Which reminds me …

LOSER: The News Leader

Scanning the local blogs today, it seems that a boycott is a-brewin’ over a Wednesday editorial in which the Leader laid it all on the line regarding its feelings for the pro-Sayre blog set.

As to how hurtful this will be … well, didn’t Lynn Mitchell, aka SWAC Girl, tell the News Virginian recently that her blog gets 200 to 300 hits a day? Doing some quick math, that means we’re talking about at most maybe 100 unique visitors a day there.

The last time that I checked, the News Leader had a daily print circulation in the 18,000 range.

But hey, a shift of 100 from the Leader to the NV (with circulation in the 8,000-a-day range) will, you know …

OK, it won’t amount to much.

But kudos to the SWAC’ers for trying.

Speaking of Lynn Mitchell …

LOSER: Lynn Mitchell’s math

“Wow! We got 48% of the vote!” reads a headline on Mitchell’s SWAC Girl blog from Wednesday.

The post that followed was all well and good – in it, she talked about how she felt the showing of the Sayre campaign was more than respectable, and as you can see from above, I agree with her on that point.

But … Sayre didn’t get 48 percent of the vote. As I tried to point out in a comment to her blog – which, as in my previous attempts to comment on her blog, must have been lost in the system, or must have contained what Lynn deems to be foul language – he actually received 47 percent of the vote.

I don’t know why she had to say that he got 48 percent of the vote – or why she hasn’t updated the number in the time since.

Maybe a four-point loss looks better than a six-point loss.

But here’s the thing – it was a six-point loss.

Deal with it.

LOSER: Kurt Michael

Or shall we say General Grievous Dog?

Michael, the chair of the Augusta County Republican Committee, was outed as being the Dog in the days leading up to the primary.

I can confirm now that I had first been let in on that little secret by a member of the SWAC GOP inner circle several months ago – so I wasn’t among those who were surprised (and mortified) when they learned that the person responsible for the whole beheading photo controversy from a while back was in a party-leadership position.

On a personal level, I can say that I was more than a bit dismayed when I learned from my friend in the SWAC GOP who Grievous Dog was – because the Dog went after me personally rather viciously at times on the old AFP Forum blog that we had up and running last fall, at the same time that Michael the public person was genial and pleasant to me one on one.

LOSER: David Cox

Cox, the Democratic Party nominee, had to be hoping for a Sayre upset on Tuesday – because now that Hanger has the GOP nomination in hand, it would seem to be quite the uphill battle for him.

WINNER: David Cox

Cox’s best hope at this point is that the pro-Sayre forces realign around the campaign of Libertarian nominee Arin Sime – or decide to stay home on Election Day.

And that very well could happen.

(Can I put a qualifier on this one?)

WINNER: Arin Sime

Sime, for his part, had to be most pleased with Tuesday’s primary results.

A Sayre win would have relegated him to outsider-looking-in status as one of two fiscal conservatives in a three-way race.

With Hanger in place as the Republican candidate, Sime can campaign from the right on fiscal issues – and make a direct appeal to those voters who went out to the polls to cast their lots with Sayre.

I think Hanger is still the odds-on favorite – but Sime and Cox could make this interesting.

Chris Graham is the executive editor of The New Dominion.

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