Wright wins re-election to House

Published 10:33 am Thursday, November 5, 2015

n incumbent Tommy Wright was re-elected to represent the 61st House of Delegates District that stretches across south central Virginia.

Wright, of Lunenburg County, won handily over Democratic challenger Greg Marston.

Wright received 12,277 votes — or 71.08 percent — to Marston’s 4,985 votes, or 28.86 percent, according to the Virginia Department of Elections website. The results are unofficial until certified by county electoral boards.

The district includes Amelia, Cumberland and Lunenburg counties, and parts of Mecklenburg and Nottoway counties.

Wright, who has held the seat since he was first elected in 2001, said he ran on his record.

“I’ve kept my word,” he said. “I’ve (been) a Christian conservative in favor of lower taxes, more efficient government and support of the Second Amendment.”

In announcing his candidacy, Wright boasted that he remained opposed to higher taxes, and consistently supported “fiscally conservative budgets.” He said President Barack Obama’s Medicaid expansion “threatens Virginia’s ability to keep its fiscal house in order.”

Wright also noted that as chairman of the Firearms Subcommittee of the Committee on Militia, Police and Public Safety, he “accumulated a consistent record” of protecting residents right to bear arms.

“Legislation that would infringe on these rights is assigned to my subcommittee every year, and every year I stand with our law-abiding hunters, sportsmen and gun owners,” he said in the statement. “Whether standing up for the interests of our region on the tobacco commission or advocating for business-friendly policies in the general assembly, I have consistently supported policies that will expand opportunities for the people of Southside.”

Following his re-election, Wright thanked his supporters and the voters. He said that he doesn’t have a silver bullet, but is now focused on the economy and job creation.

Marston ran on Wright’s record too, insisting the incumbent had done too little to replace jobs and factories that started disappearing in the 1970s. “Nobody has done anything since then to really do anything in a major way to compensate for that loss,” he said. Marston said that through his lobbying efforts, “I have done more for this district than Tommy has in 14 years as a delegate.” Instead, Marston insisted that the region should set a bold course and move to the forefront of developing industrial hemp, and that Virginia should expand Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act.

In his election night statement, Marston thanked his supporters for “this hard struggle we have endured.”

“We ran a high-profile feeling campaign and did our very best to help everyone inside of our district,” he said in the statement. “We would have loved to have been given the opportunity to be your delegate … but the choice has already been made.”

In mid-October, Marston was charged with misdemeanor trespassing that he blamed on a personal conflict that became political.

Marston said the charge stemmed from long-running friction with Nottoway Public Schools Superintendent Daniel Grounard. Marston said he spent four years trying to develop an apprenticeship program at the Amelia-Nottoway Technical Center, and Grounard tried to give credit for the effort to Wright. Marston said that if the confrontation and subsequent charge weren’t prompted by Wright, it was at least done with his sanction. Grounard denied the allegation, and Wright declined to comment on the issue.