Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

June 17, 2014

Republicans, Democrats plan 38th District Senatorial mass gatherings in Tazewell

TAZEWELL, Va. — Democrats and Republicans will nominate candidates this week for Virginia’s vacant 38th District Senatorial seat during mass gatherings Wednesday and Thursday in Tazewell County.

Although the 38th Senatorial District is composed of Tazewell, Buchanan, Pulaski, Russell, Dickenson, Wise, Radford, Bland and Smyth counties, along with the city of Norton, both political parties opted to hold their mass gatherings in Tazewell County, Tazewell County Registrar Brian Earls said. The two political parties will nominate candidates for the legislative district vacated by the surprise resignation of veteran lawmaker Phillip Puckett.

The Democrats will hold their mass gathering Wednesday at Graham High School, and Republicans will hold their mass gathering at Nuckoll’s Hall at the Tazewell County Fairgrounds.

Both parties will nominate a candidate for the Aug. 19 special election that has been ordered for the 38th District seat.

Tazewell County Sheriff Brian Hieatt, who is serving as the chairman of the 38th District Nominating Committee for the Democratic Party, said in a press release issued Monday that the Democratic mass meeting is open to all registered voters of the 38th Senatorial District. Hieatt said participants in the mass meeting may vote in person at Graham High School at any time between the hours of 7 and 9 p.m., Wednesday.

The Republican mass gathering is expected to begin at 7 p.m., Thursday at Nuckolls Hall at the Tazewell County Fairgrounds with registration opening at 5 p.m.

Also Monday, former Buchanan County Commonwealth Attorney Tamara Neo announced that she will seek the Republican nomination for the 38th District seat at Thursday’s mass gathering of the GOP.

“The form of nomination was announced on Sunday morning with that election being five days later on Thursday,” Neo said, “In that short and fast spirit, I describe myself as a constitution following, government limiting, coal supporting, vocational education advocating, well-armed mother and cattle rancher’s daughter who is a follower of Christ.”

Neo was elected as Buchanan County’s Commonwealth’s Attorney in 2007. She also served as a Special Assistant United States Attorney for two-and-half years during that time. Neo now practices bankruptcy law in Tazewell. She also serves as vice president on the Commonwealth’s Board of Juvenile Justice.

Neo joins Delegate A. Benton “Ben” Chafin Jr., R-Russell, as announced candidates seeking the GOP nomination for the 38th District seat.

On the Democratic side, Mike Hymes, the current Southern District member of the Tazewell County Board of Supervisors, announced Monday evening that he will seek the Democratic nomination for the 38th District seat.

Hymes said his father and grandfather were coal miners. Hymes was born in Bluefield and spent his early years in a coal camp in Bishop, Va., where his father worked in the mine. His family later moved to Tazewell. Hymes is a third generation coal miner and worked in the mines in McDowell County early in his career. He is currently corporate director of human resources at James River Coal Company.

“If folks care about what happens to our coal jobs, miners and coal mines then they should vote for me,” Hymes said Monday. “I have worked in the mines and the coal industry my whole adult life and no one knows better than I how regulations are devastating our coal industry and our way of life. No one will fight harder against these regulations than I will.”

Puckett’s unexpected resignation last week captured statewide and national attention — as it tipped the balance of power in the state Senate of Virginia to GOP control. There are now 20 Republicans to 19 Democrats in the Senate. Republicans also have a majority advantage in the House of Delegates.

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