State Sen. Robert Hurt (R-VA) probably thought he’d put his Republican problems behind him when he overwhelmingly captured the party nomination to challenge Rep. Tom Perriello last week. Not so much, as a former GOP rival Jim McKelvey and the local tea party are refusing to endorse Hurt’s candidacy.
We’ve been writing for months about Virginia’s 5th district, likely to be ground zero for Republicans who are attempting to win back control of the U.S. House this fall. Hurt was considered the most electable and best-known in the district, which spans central and Southside Virginia. But he was bruised in the primary by a host of Republican opponents who labeled him a moderate tax-raiser who was too close to the Washington establishment. Nothing’s really changed.
According to the Lynchburg News and Advance, the Lynchburg Tea Party said in a statement they “cannot and will not endorse a candidate that does not align with our core principles,” an argument that stems mostly from Hurt’s vote in favor of a $1.4 billion tax increase in 2004 to balance the state budget. The much smaller Danville Tea Party has reportedly said they are likely to endorse Hurt in the spirit of unity.
The local NBC affiliate reported that Hurt is predicting unity among the GOP leading to the November election. He said Republicans should see that supporting him is better than reelecting Perriello, a freshman he’s targeting as fiscally irresponsible. “Anybody who does not recognize that and would prefer to support a candidate other than our candidacy is someone who’s not interested in moving our country forward, end of story,” Hurt told NBC.
And the Democrats, as promised, are attempting to exploit the party divisions. The DCCC produced this Web video starring Republicans critical of Hurt: