Brewer leads Sadler in GOP 17th District Senate race

Published 8:54 pm Tuesday, June 20, 2023

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Del. Emily Brewer, R-Isle of Wight, is leading Emporia businessman Hermie Sadler as voters’ preferred Republican nominee for Virginia’s new 17th Senate District.

According to unofficial results, Brewer as of 8:44 p.m. had received 56.6% of more than 13,000 districtwide votes to Sadler’s just 43.3%.

Both candidates carried supermajorities in their home localities, Brewer with just under 78% of Isle of Wight County’s votes and Sadler with just over 70% of Emporia’s ballots. 

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Brewer also carried nearly two-thirds of Suffolk, and majorities in Portsmouth, Franklin and Southampton County. Sadler carried 75% of votes in Brunswick County, 71.8% in Dinwiddie County and 68.6% in Greensville County.

Only Chesapeake’s ballots, which account for less than 1% of the district’s registered voters, provisional ballots, and five precincts in Franklin have yet to be counted.

Gov. Glenn Youngkin endorsed Brewer over Sadler, though the Emporia businessman had outspent his rival as of June 12. The race turned contentious in March when ousted Suffolk GOP Chairwoman Dawn Jones in a lawsuit alleged Youngkin and Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares, through their representatives, to have “strong-armed” the Virginia Department of Elections into briefly changing the nomination method from a primary back to a party-run convention.

The 17th’s GOP Legislative District Committee, a body of Republican Party chairs representing the district’s 10 localities, had voted in December to hold a convention, but revoted in March for a state-run primary. State GOP Chairman Rich Anderson, in letters to the Department of Elections, contended Jones should have lacked voting power to switch the method, but a Richmond judge found in favor of Jones’ claims and ordered a primary be held to settle the race.

Since then, the two candidates have each accused the other of being too centrist, with Sadler’s campaign calling Brewer a “RINO” or “Republican in name only,” and Brewer’s noting Sadler had once called Democratic State Sen. L. Louise Lucas “a friend of mine.”