Laurie Buchwald, a Radford nurse practitioner and former Radford City Council member, will be vying to be the next 38th District state senator.
Buchwald, a Democrat, will be facing Republican candidate Travis Hackworth of Tazewell County in the upcoming special election, set for March 23. The special election is to fill the remainder of the term of the late Senator Ben Chafin, who died Jan. 1 from COVID-19.
Buchwald said the COVID-19 pandemic and healthcare in general is a primary reason she decided to run for the open senate seat.
“I very much want to have a positive impact on the health of our district and Southwest Virginia,” said Buchwald via email early Friday morning. “Certainly that means our physical and emotional health in the wake of COVID-19. On a daily basis I hear from patients, who come from all over Southwest Virginia, about their fear and anxiety of this dreaded virus. They have lost jobs. Their loved ones are sick and have died.
“But the lack of access to healthcare existed long before COVID-19,” Buchwald said. “I want to fight to preserve and protect Medicaid expansion and to improve access to care for everyone. I want to improve the health of our communities, our infrastructure and schools, our natural resources, and of course, our economy. I have the energy, the elected experience, and the positivity to be the next State Senator from Southwest Virginia.”
Hackworth, a Tazewell County residential and commercial builder, won the Republican nomination for the seat on Thursday after a primary that included six candidates. Hackworth garnered 35.8 percent of the vote, beating Kimberly Lowe, Jony Baker, Tamara Neo, Elijah Leonard and Chad Dotson.
Buchwald served on the Radford City Council from 2002-2010 before opting not to run for a third term. She later ran unsuccessfully for the Virginia House of Delegates against Joseph Yost before turning her efforts toward encouraging women to run for public office with successful results in getting more women elected to state and national government. She said Thursday in a message on Facebook she has been overwhelmed by the support she has received, including several current elected officials.
“In just two short days, I have been overwhelmed by messages of support from people across the 38th district, and frankly around the Ninth Congressional District who are excited about my candidacy. It’s a short race, but I am excited,” she said. “I’m grateful and humbled to receive the endorsement of four amazing Senators who serve us in Richmond: Majority Leader Dick Saslaw, Caucus Chair Mamie Locke, and Senators Creigh Deeds and John Edwards.”
“I am proud to endorse Laurie in her bid to represent the 38th District,” said Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw. “Virginians are looking to Richmond for commonsense, practical solutions to the many challenges they are facing during this unprecedented time of crisis. I know Laurie is well suited to meet those challenges head on.”
“During a time of extraordinary uncertainty, people need, now more than ever, steady calm leadership that can tangibly make their lives better,” said Democratic Caucus Chair Senator Mamie Locke. “Our Democratic caucus has been hard at work helping to provide that necessary relief and is looking forward to the addition of Laurie so we can continue to get results for the people of Virginia.”
“Southwest Virginia needs leaders who understand their struggles,” said Senator John Edwards. “Laurie, during her time as City Councilwoman and throughout her healthcare career, has demonstrated her ability to do just that. Southwest Virginia and the citizens of the 38th District would benefit from Laurie’s leadership in the Senate.”
“In the middle of the worst health crisis in modern history, what better person to send to Richmond than a healthcare provider,” said Senator Creigh Deeds. “Southwest and rural Virginians have suffered disproportionately from the COVID-19 pandemic. And we need leaders like Laurie who understand what it takes to lead our Commonwealth and region out of crisis and into better days.”
Hackworth said the support he received in the primary has been humbling and he looks forward to meeting voters in the district to share his message.
“As we started this journey mere days ago, I never dreamed that this would turn into such an enriching experience,” he shared on Facebook. “My deep roots in the community clearly resonated with members of our communities, and it was humbling to see the massive turnout in cold weather from people all across this region to cast votes for the future of Southwest Virginia. I look forward to continuing meeting voters on the campaign trail as we will maintain an active campaign for the special election March 23.”
“I am ready to immediately begin working for our district,” Hackworth said. “My team will be hitting the ground running as our campaign focuses immediately on building bridges with the other campaigns and moving forward to win in March so that we can protect Southwest Virginia values, create jobs, and rebuild our economy as we recover from COVID-19.
“As I have stated from day one,” Hackworth said, “Southwest Virginia doesn’t need another politician. It needs an experienced businessman who will be a voice for the people and fight for our region to get things done. I’m excited to be one step closer to being that voice and moving Southwest Virginia forward. Today is only the beginning step of the important work ahead of us to build an even better Southwest Virginia together.”
Buchwald said she wants to go to Richmond to get results for Southwest Virginia.
“Southwest Virginia is struggling,” she said. “It has borne the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic, suffered economically for far too long, and is longing for a voice in Richmond that puts partisan politics aside and gets results for our region and people. I believe that I am that person.”