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Hanger, Sayre speak to splintered Staunton Republicans

Posted by Stephen on May 17, 2007

The race for the Republican nomination in the 24th district incumbent Emmitt Hanger and businessman Scott Sayre has been heating up and on Tuesday the two men met face to face. Actually, it was more like shadow to shadow with a distant glance in one another’s direction as Hanger left and Sayre arrived.

With Staunton Republicans filling the seats in City Hall chambers it was apparent that few pleasantries would be shared on this night, and it is doubtful that Hanger and Sayre exchanged any either.

Sen. Emmitt Hanger was the first to take the floor to speak at a gathering of Staunton Republicans hosted by the Staunton Republican Committee. The Mount Solon Republican laid out a very simplistic case for his re-election; seniority.

While all together ignoring issues of the day such as taxes, transportation, education, and immigration, Hanger stated that his experience in office was the main reason 24th district Republicans should send him back to Richmond. He pointed out that his re-election would place him in a position to accept the Chairmanship for the Senate Agriculture Committee and would make him one of only two Senators to represent rural Virginia.

“For Western Virginia, for Rural Virginia, if I am able to have that position, and that podium to speak from in representing Rural Virginia, for conservation issues and for farm-related issues, I think that will be significant for all of Western Virginia,” Hanger said.

Describing the difficulties citizens face in finding common ground between those with different ideas, or coming from different backgrounds and belief systems, there is also an important challenge that exists in bridging gaps between rural and urban areas.

“Sometimes we make a big deal about the fact that the House and the Senate argue and sometimes debate, and we make a big deal about the fact that Republicans and Democrats argue and debate because they have different perspectives on the issues, conservatives and liberals. But there is a real dynamic in Virginia right now between rural and urban areas. And there will only be two of us left in positions of leadership in the state Senate that represent primarily rural areas,” explained Hanger.

Sayre, who was forced endure what could only be described as uncomfortable and unfortunate behavior exhibited by a small but vocal group of Hanger supporters at the gathering, seized the opportunity to point out his plans for specific challenges faced by Virginians such as the aforementioned taxes, transportation and immigration as well as wasteful spending and the need to promote and invigorate the business environment.

“We’re going to hold the line on raising your taxes. How am I going to do that?” asked Sayre who added, “Just like tonight; I was speaking to the Association of Home Builders in Augusta County. You know what? About one-third of our tax dollars come from people in the homebuilding industry,” explained Sayre who said that, “That group needs to be supported, not regulated out of existence. It needs to be supported. When you build your home, you buy more wood, more block; those tax dollars go into the state coffers. You stimulate business. That’s how we increase our revenues.”

Sayre took time to draw a contrast between himself and Hanger regarding immigration as it relates to college tuition bills.

“I just don’t think it’s right to take my son or daughter’s college slot away and give it to an illegal immigrant – and even more than that, give it to somebody at in-state tuition rates. It’s not going to happen on my watch. I’ve seen two bills in the last two years presented, and that’s just not going to pass when I’m elected as your senator,” Sayre said.

The comments were in direct reference to legislation Hanger has supported for the past two years that would provide in-state tuition to those residing in the Commonwealth illegally, or without proper documentation. The legislation that Hanger has supported on the matter is complex. It states that in-state tuition will be provided to illegal or undocumented immigrants that have graduated from an accredited high school program, have lived in the Commonwealth for at least three years, have applied, or will apply, for permanent residence as soon as possible.

The ambiguous wording has created anxiety among those concerned with the country’s position on immigration and its impact here at home.

Sayre simplified the conversation addressing transportation challenges that have been a point of contention across the state. Sayre maintains that he supports the long term investment into a combination of road improvement and expansion combined with rail solutions through innovative ideas. However, in the short term Sayre points out that there are immediate needs that should be addressed as quickly as possible.

“We have to address ‘truck-81’, as I like to call it, not just because it is a transportation challenge but because people are dying,” stated Sayre.

His plan is to immediately move to support, fund, and construct climbing lanes in areas identified as hot spots throughout the Valley. He added that educating drivers is an important element to changing the culture of driving in Virginia. Sayre explained that young drivers need additional education regarding safe driving while all drivers should be reminded of the dangers that exist on the highways and ways to avoid them.

“It’s not as difficult and complex as they make it out to be. It takes common sense, good planning and commitment to get the job done,” explained Sayre.

While Emmitt Hanger settles into a campaign he considers a story of experience and seniority, Sayre chooses to address his plans to find solutions to issues like taxes, transportation, and immigration, based on his experience as a successful entrepreneur who started a business out of his garage and turned it into Sayre Enterprises. Both are successful men, but their presentations create stark contrasts in what they believe are the important elements in choosing the next Senator representing the 24th district.

The only question that remains is what the voter thinks. That answer will come June 12th when voters make their way to polls for the primary to decide who will oppose Arin Sime during the general election.

Stephen Winslow is the executive editor of Conservative Viewpoints.

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4 Responses to “Hanger, Sayre speak to splintered Staunton Republicans”

  1. I thought this was a well written, balanced and objective piece. Thanks for providing it for those of us who couldn’t be attendance. I’ll be sure to link.

  2. […] you want to read a good (and even-handed) summary of last nights appearance, check out the Conservative Viewpoint Blog. Stephen Winslow does a really nice […]

  3. Elle said

    Excellent summation of campaign messages. I have a question for you, now that there is a democrat in the race, how do you think this will change the dynamics?

  4. Great question.

    Interestingly enough I believe that it might help Scott Sayre. Hanger clearly runs close to the left on fiscal issues and I think we can argue that a high percentage of voters vote with their wallets. Sayre presents a clear choice as a solid fiscal conservative who also maintains conservative social values.

    If voters of in the 24th district are interested in this seat maintaining a conservative representation it would be prudent for voters to come to the polls during the primary and not just the general election. I would add that under the Virginia primary format, registered Democrats are welcome to vote in the Republican primary and that should also be in the minds of conservative voters.

    I don’t know much about the Democrat that is running. From what I read in the Harrisonburg paper he is in management for a local industry with little if any political experience. The quote in the paper suggests that he will run on a commone theme; relief of tax burdens on the middle and lower class. Since there was no mention of cutting spending one can translate his platform into tax increases on small businesses that come in the form of sole propriatorships and others that invest in traditional ways that do more to increase revenue to the state than all the tax increases that politicians can create.

    For anyone that might wonder about my logic here, consider this: if Hanger wins the primary what do Dems run on? They wouldn’t dare suggest a liberal social agenda, and they won’t be able to discuss “effective tax increases” against a guy that will tout “effective tax increases.” Sayre, on the other hand, maintains a clear and legible line in his thinking. He believes there are more effective ways to raise reveune other than increasing taxes, like cutting spending. It creates a clear distinction between the the Repbulican Sayre and the Democrat.

    What will be interesting will be the effect of Arin Sime on the conversation. Who will the fiscal conservative/socially liberal Libertarian draw from? Then again, if Sayre is running in the general election, providing voters with a fiscal conservative to vote for, will it matter?

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