Former TV anchor Chris Hurst, whose girlfriend was killed on-air, beat an incumbent Republican in rural Virginia

  • Chris Hurst, a journalist who lost his girlfriend to gun violence in 2015, beat an NRA-supported Republican incumbent in a rural southwest Virginia district on Tuesday.
  • Hurst, a Democrat, campaigned on gun violence prevention and staked out progressive positions on a host of issues, from climate change to criminal justice.

Former TV news anchor Chris Hurst, whose girlfriend Alison Parker was shot and killed on live television in 2015, was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates on Tuesday, beating a Republican incumbent with an A-rating from the National Rifle Association.

Hurst was not expected to win, but did so decisively, taking 54% of the vote in his rural southwest Virginia district. While he emphasised his positions on gun violence prevention throughout the campaign, Hurst also staked out progressive positions on climate change, education, and criminal justice.

In a February op-ed announcing his candidacy, Hurst wrote that “going into the newsroom each day began to numb me to the humanity on which I was supposed to be reporting,” so he decided to leave his career in journalism to give back to the community he said supported him through his grief.

“I don’t want your pity, I don’t want your sympathy vote, I feel like I was compelled to run,” Hurst said in a campaign video. “I think it’s apathy and indifference from so many that led to Alison’s death and I couldn’t be indifferent any longer.”

Gun control advocates celebrated Hurst’s win, which was part of a wave of Democratic candidates who swept elections across the state on Tuesday, flipping 14 seats in the state legislature. Democrats need just three more seats — the votes for which are still being counted — to take a majority in the House.

Another young journalist, Danica Roem, beat a longtime Republican incumbent in Virginia’s 13th district to become the first-ever openly transgender state legislator in the country.

“Hurst’s victory is proof that pro-LGBTQ and pro-gun reform candidates can win, even in rural south-west Virginia,” the Pride Fund to End Gun Violence, which endorsed Hurst, wrote in a press release.

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