As the 2021 elections inch closer and begin to dominate almost all political talk in the Commonwealth, State Sen. Emmett Hanger (R-Augusta) is still exploring a potential run to become the 74th governor of Virginia.
Hanger, 72, recently discussed the gubernatorial election and the difficulty of securing the GOP nomination in an interview with The Virginia Star.
“I’m inclined to go ahead and run,” Hanger said. “I have not made an official announcement, but I’m going through the work of making the contacts and trying to develop a plan that could work for the nominating process.”
“The timing and the actual plan for how to win a nomination, and how that could lead to a victory in a general election is what I’m working on right now,” Hanger continued. “It’s tricky business out here now with the lay of the land of the political scene.”
The political landscape for Virginia Republicans has been quite up and down since the party’s state central committee chose in early December to nominate it’s 2021 candidates through a convention instead of a primary.
That decision caused GOP candidate and fearless State Sen. Amanda Chase (R-Chesterfield) to announce she would run as an independent, creating division amongst the party and boosting Democratic confidence, before eventually caving and agreeing to take part in the convention as a Republican.
“Right now, a very big hurdle for me is the nominating process,” Hanger told The Star. “So, I’m hoping to convince people, particularly individuals that want someone maybe harder right than me. I don’t really feel that I’ve changed my position over the years in terms of my conservative credentials.”
Hanger said the thought of competing for the Republican nomination in a convention does not deter him from entering the race, and that he would “perhaps” run for governor regardless of the nominating process. However, Hanger did mention that he heard last week the party might be re-considering using a convention.
The longtime state lawmaker believes he would be the right choice for Republican voters and the party because he is more electable in the fall and, due to his ability to work across the aisle and brand of traditional conservatism, be able to pull a wider array of voters while still preserving core conservative principles like religion, the Second Amendment and fiscal issues.
Hanger said he is still working to develop a concrete platform, but that it would involve “reinforcing policy positions that are a part of our Republican creed” as well as broader items such as education, the economy, COVID-19 recovery, state spending as well as addressing the polarization of the main two parties.
Besides Chase, former House Speaker Del. Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) is the only other declared GOP candidate. Northern Virginia businessman and entrepreneur Pete Snyder is expected to announce a run soon, though.
The Democrats vying for the nomination are former governor Terry McAuliffe, State Sen. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond City), the current Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax and Jennifer Carroll Foy – who recently resigned from the House of Delegates to focus on the gubernatorial race.
Del. Lee J. Carter (D-Manassas) has filed paperwork to raise money, but has not officially announced yet.
In terms of a potential Hanger announcement, no date has been determined yet nor has he submitted any paperwork to the Virginia Department of Elections, a necessary step in running for office. Hanger did commit to making a definitive decision before the General Assembly convenes for its regular session on January 13th.
“I was born with a rosy disposition, a positive outlook and I never got over it,” Hanger said. “I feel very good about Virginia, I’m proud of Virginia, and I really want to convince people that I have the ability and desire to serve in that leadership capacity.”
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