Hart Not Running for Delegate

Brent Finnegan -- April 5th, 2010

Last year, Gene Hart ran as the Democratic candidate against Republican Delegate Matt Lohr.

Following Lohr’s recent announcement that he will vacate his seat as the delegate from 26th district, there was some speculation about whether Hart would run again this year in the special election. But the former candidate wants to put those rumors to rest: “2010 is not going to be the year that Gene Hart runs.”

“If I had not run last year, it would have been much more of a consideration to run this year,” says Hart.

Hart much prefers the label of “family man” to “politician,” and he wants to focus on his family and his law practice. He says another run for office so soon would interfere with those plans. “Delegate Lohr’s announcement caused us to re-think the decision [not to run again] very briefly, but only for a moment.”

Last week Lowell Fulk, the Democratic Party candidate for delegate in 2003 and 2005, announced that he would not seek the nomination this time.

So far, Harrisonburg Mayor Kai Degner is the only person to publicly announce his intention to run for the Democratic Party nomination in the upcoming special election.

“We’re excited to have somebody run,” Hart says of Degner’s run. “We’ll be happy to share what we’ve learned and the experiences we’ve had with Kai, or to whoever the Democratic candidate is.”

Looking ahead to June, Hart says there are some key differences that may help the Democratic nominee from suffering the landslide defeat he experienced last fall — not least of which will be the lack of upticket races.

“In 2009, it was really impossible at the local level for House of Delegates candidates to break free of what was going on at the national and state level. It was very uphill last year,” says Hart. “The Republican Party in the 26th district probably can’t go much higher in terms of its vote total, and the Democratic Party probably can’t go much lower. It hasn’t changed completely, but it’s changed some. It’s not going to be the same electorate in June of 2010 as it was in November of 2009.”

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