Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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June 20, 2014

Chafin nominated as candidate to fill Senate seat

TAZEWELL, Va. — After a long mass meeting, area Republicans nominated a candidate Thursday evening to fill a vacant Virginia Senate seat that has implications for the entire state.

The mass gathering of Republicans from nine Southwest Virginia counties and two cities representing the 38th Senatorial District was conducted in Nuckolls Hall at the Tazewell County Fairgrounds. Delegates started voting at 7 p.m., and by approximately 10:45 p.m., they had nominated Delegate A. Benton “Ben” Chafin Jr., R-Russell.

“It feels really good,” Chafin said after receiving the nomination. “We put a lot of really hard work into this. We had a lot of people come in from every area in the 38th district to support us.”

Organizers originally expected to nominate a candidate by 9 p.m. but the turnout for the mass meeting was much larger than expected, said Jack R. Morgan, 38th Legislative District chair.

 Morgan had counted 834 registered delegates at the fairgrounds and described the proceedings as “very smooth and peaceful.”

“It’s a pretty amazing turnout,” he said. “Definitely since I’ve been involved, there’s never been a legislative mass meeting like this.”

Votes were counted by hand, Morgan said.

Chafin announced his candidacy for the 38th District seat on June 9. Chafin currently represents the 4th District in the Virginia House of Delegates. He is a graduate of East Tennessee State University and the University of Richmond School of Law. Chafin is an attorney in private practice and the owner and operator of a beef-cattle farm in Moccasin Valley.

Chafin is chairman of the board of First Bank & Trust Company, which has branches in Southwest Virginia and Eastern Tennessee. He is a member and former president of the Russell County Rotary.

Chafin will face Democratic nominee Mike Hymes, of Tazewell, in the closely watched Aug. 19 special election to fill the Senate vacancy created by the abrupt resignation of veteran Democrat Phillip Puckett in the 38th district. The outcome of the closely-watched race could help to decide which party controls the Virginia General Assembly well into 2015.

Other candidates for the Republican nomination included Tamara Neo, former Commonwealth’s Attorney for Buchanan County. Neo was elected as Buchanan County’s Commonwealth Attorney in 2007. She also served as a special assistant United States Attorney for two and a half years during that time. She now practices bankruptcy law in Tazewell. George McCall was also a candidate

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