Travis Hackworth Wins Landslide Victory in District 38 Election

By Brian Carlton

March 24, 2021

Newly elected senator promises to help small businesses

TAZEWELL-It was a good night for Travis Hackworth. The Republican candidate won the District 38 State Senate race in a blowout Tuesday, collecting 76.28% of the vote. 

Hackworth’s opponent, former Radford city councilor Laurie Buchwald, finished second with 23.56%. Write-in candidates, meanwhile, added the final 0.16%. Across the board, the result was pretty definitive. In most jurisdictions, Hackworth collected at least 66% of the vote. Not surprisingly, his strongest support came from Tazewell County. The Tazewell County supervisor secured 86% of the vote in his home area, while picking up 83% in nearby Bland and Buchanan counties. The Tazewell vote was critical in this race, as the county includes 22% of the overall voters in the district. 

The result was so definitive there were only two areas Hackworth didn’t win outright. The first was Radford, where former city councilor Buchwald picked up 53% of the vote. The second was Montgomery County, where neither candidate won. Only part of Montgomery was included in District 38 and it appears that voters just forgot. Zero people cast a ballot in the two eligible precincts, either in early voting or on Tuesday night. 

The city of Norton, meanwhile, won for the fewest people casting a ballot. Out of a registered 2,379 voters, only 261 showed up on Tuesday, with 61% going to Hackworth. 

Above all, voters on Tuesday just seemed happy there would be someone representing them again in Richmond. The District 38 seat has remained vacant since longtime senator Ben Chafin died due to COVID-19 in early January. Those who talked to Dogwood on Tuesday said they didn’t appreciate the fact both a regular and special session of the General Assembly took place since Chafin’s death. They felt ignored, with no one to speak for them. 

‘What Are You Gonna Do Now?’

Speaking to supporters after the results came in, Travis Hackworth laid out a clear plan for what happens next. 

“We’re gonna roll up our sleeves and we’re gonna do what we’ve always done,” he told the crowd. “We’re gonna get to work.”  

Part of that work involves setting up offices in Richlands, Pulaski County and in the city of Norton, to make sure everyone in the district has an easily accessible location to bring questions or concerns. Beyond that, Hackworth said he plans to get sworn in and take part in the second special session of the year, currently set for April 7. 

The main thing he wants to do, however, is help local businesses. 

“Too many times we give money, we give thousands of dollars to corporations from overseas or wherever,” Hackworth told the crowd. “We’ve got third and fourth generation businesses right here in the 38th District that never gets their door knocked on to say how can we help you?”

Hackworth said he plans to change that. In Tazewell County alone, he pointed out, there are 500 small businesses. What would it do for the local economy if each company could just add one position. His goal is to make sure local businesses get connected with grants and other help that’s available. 

For voters Dogwood talked with on Tuesday, the economy seemed to be the number one topic on their mind. Some said they wanted to see more support for small business and just local companies in general.  

‘So Much to Be Proud Of’ 

On the other side, Buchwald issued a statement late Tuesday, thanking her supporters and saying she was proud of the campaign they ran. 

“Southwest Virginia Democrats: don’t be dismayed,” Buchwald said. “We fought the good fight and no doubt we’re ready for the next one. I have met and spoken to so many people who are pleading for representation for the issues that affect us every single day.”

Buchwald added that she was grateful for the thousands of people who reached out and shared their concerns during the campaign. She also encouraged others to get involved with politics. 

“I am proud of the honest campaign we have run, free from mudslinging,” Buchwald said. “[I] want to encourage anyone who has ever considered throwing their hat in the ring, to do so. It is worth it.” 

The Virginia Senate Democratic Caucus also issued a statement after Tuesday’s race, saying they were ready to work with Hackworth. 

“While the results tonight were not what we were hoping for, Laurie Buchwald ran an incredible and positive campaign focusing on the issues we have heard around the 38th District,” Caucus members said. “[That includes] economic security, educational opportunities, and Southwest Virginia having a representative who will concentrate on what’s best for every one of her constituents and every Virginian. We would like to congratulate Senator-Elect Travis Hackworth on his victory, and look forward to working with him in the Senate.”

Brian Carlton is Dogwood’s managing editor. You can reach him at [email protected].

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