In a stunning surprise for political pundits across the Commonwealth of Virginia, Tina Freitas, who is primarying Senator Emmett Hanger in the 24th Senate District, outraised the co-Chair of the Senate Finance Committee by a figure of 12-1 for the First Quarter of 2019.
Hanger has been locked in a heated primary battle with Freitas since the latter announced her campaign for the district in mid-February.
Since then, Freitas has raised over $70,000 after roughly five weeks of campaigning.
While Freitas entered the race nearly two months after the First Quarter began, her haul of $72,588 stands as the highest amount raised from donors by any primary challenger seeking to defeat a sitting incumbent in either party of either house of the General Assembly.
Hanger’s finance reports still show the 36-year incumbent maintains a considerable war chest of over $200,000, though the Senator only raised $5,700 this past quarter.
While Hanger’s defenders will claim that he was not allowed to raise during the legislative session, incumbents traditionally raise a significant amount of money immediately before and after the legislature convenes.
These high-dollar fundraisers usually bring in tens of thousands of dollars for incumbent Delegates and Senators, yet Hanger raised less than $6,000 this quarter, a figure that was 12 times less than Freitas.
In terms of total number of contributors, Hanger received 10 donations from January 1 to April 15, while Freitas received contributions from 137 donors.
The finance reports, while only telling part of the story that is beginning to unfold in this Senate district suggest that the Republican primary for the 24th District could be one of the most closely watched races on election night, June 11th.
In such an overwhelmingly Republican part of Virginia, the winner of the 24th Senate District primary will almost certainly represent the region in the General Assembly next year, with Democratic opposition in the general election likely only taking the form of a token challenger.
However, Hanger’s campaign appears to be poised to try and bring Democrats into the nomination contest to vote for him.
The Culpeper County Democratic Committee had previously boasted that Hanger retained the seat in 2015 when he faced two primary challengers because Democrats voted in the Republican primary for him.
Hanger’s voting record to kill Constitutional Carry and School Choice bills in the Senate multiple years in a row has earned him the support of many Democrats in the region, as has his vote to force through Medicaid Expansion via Obamacare.
Conservative critics point to Hanger’s vote to send up to 6 million dollars to Planned Parenthood as another example of Hanger’s tendency to vote with the Democrats on key issues, and Freitas herself has highlighted this as one of the main reasons she chose to challenge Hanger for the Republican nomination in the first place.
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