Sen. Emmett Hanger will not run for reelection

State Sen. Emmett Hanger, R-Augusta. (Source: Virginia Mercury)
State Sen. Emmett Hanger, R-Augusta. (Source: Virginia Mercury)
Published: Apr. 6, 2023 at 11:21 AM EDT
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AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) - A longtime Valley representative will not be seeking another term in Richmond come the fall. Augusta County Republican State Senator Emmett Hanger has announced that he will not be running for reelection.

“I am announcing today I will not be filing a Declaration of Candidacy to run for the Senate in the 3rd District,” Hanger said. “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.”

Hanger lives in the 2nd District after Virginia’s redistricting process but much of the area he has represented for years now falls in the 3rd District and he has elected not to move.

The 2nd District which Hanger now lives is also home to Harrisonburg Republican State Senator Mark Obenshain whom Hanger would have had to face in a primary had he elected to pursue the seat.

“He had an option of either fighting it out in a primary or moving to the District that was created that does not have a current Senator south of him. There was some discussion he was going to move, but apparently, he decided he did not want to do so,” said JMU Political Analyst Dr. Bob Roberts.

Roberts said that in Hanger, the State Senate is losing an old-school conservative.

“He was a traditional Republican conservative who was focusing primarily on fiscal issues. He was not focusing on cultural or social issues, his concern was to keep the state of Virginia on a strong financial footing,” said Roberts.

Roberts said that while he wouldn’t call Hanger a moderate he does somewhat differ from the Republican party of today.

“The current governor and the current Republican party is following the national lead, wanting to cut taxes, and cut taxes, and cut taxes. Hanger disagreed with that because he wanted to fund certain educational services such as education,” he said. “There’s a marked difference between the Hanger view of what a conservative is and what many of the Republicans now view as what a conservative is.”

Roberts said that Virginia’s new legislative map has created a situation where most districts are either strongly liberal or strongly conservative and where Senate Democrats will likely move farther left and Senate Republicans will likely move farther right.

“There are very few competitive Senate seats in the state, maybe five where they’re going to be fighting over those. Those are primarily in suburban areas around Richmond, some of Northern Virginia, and Tidewater. So there are going to be terribly competitive races for a relatively few numbers of seats in both the Senate and House of Delegates,” he said. “What’s going to be very interesting in 2023 is how much money is poured into a relatively small number of seats.”

Hanger’s current term ends in January 2024, he has not ruled out a return to politics sometime down the line.

You can read his full statement below.