Travis Hackworth

Travis Hackworth

TAZEWELL, Va. — A Tazewell County supervisor has announced his candidacy for the nomination to run for the Virginia State Senate seat available after the death of Sen. Ben Chafin.

Chafin, a Republican serving the 38th District, died on New Year’s Day after battling COVID-19.

Travis Hackworth, the Northwestern District Supervisor, said he will seek the Republican nomination for the post.

Gov. Ralph Northam on Tuesday set a date for the special election for March 23 with the last day to file for the office and be on the ballot on Jan. 22.

Hackworth described the late senator as a mentor and friend, stating that he had become well acquainted with him through their communications over the past two years, adding that Chafin encouraged him to run for the office one day, stating that he would do a good job as a Virginia Senator.

“Today, after much prayer, support, and urging from many across the 38th District, I am announcing my intention to fill Ben Chafin’s vacant seat and honor him and his legacy by serving the constituents and being a voice for the people,” Hackworth said in his announcement. “I decided not to announce before the Governor declared a special election to ensure that we had proper time as a community to mourn the loss of Senator Chafin and show respect to his wife, children, and family. Now, I am 100 percent committed to take the insight and knowledge he gave me and serve with diligence and honor to the best of my ability.”

Hackworth, a Richlands businessman who has managed at least 10 separate businesses and 100 employees, has served as the Northwestern Supervisor for five years and was chairman of the board in 2019.

Del. James W. “Will” Morefield (R-Tazewell County) said Tuesday he had considered running for the nomination but decided to endorse Hackworth.

“I was shocked and deeply saddened when Senator Ben Chafin passed away,” Morefield said. “Our prayers and deepest sympathy go out to his family. The last few days have been a time of mourning all across the Commonwealth. Covid-19 is a deadly virus that has taken the lives of so many. As we make every effort to recover, Senator Chafin’s seat must be filled as soon as possible to ensure that we have a strong voice in the Virginia Senate.”

Morefield said he has received many calls encouraging him to run for the seat.

“After careful consideration and with my experience serving in the House of Delegates, Southwest Virginia cannot afford to lose my senior position in the House for me to serve as a freshman in the Senate,” he said. “I am dedicated to serving the people of Southwest Virginia and therefore will not be running for Senate.”

Other candidates may announce they are running, he added, and it is “imperative that we elect a strong person with the experience to be an effective leader in the Virginia General Assembly” and that is why he is endorsing Hackworth.

“I have worked with Travis for several years and more recently on Project Jonah,” he said. “The project will be world’s largest fully integrated indoor aquaculture facility and one of the largest private capital investments in the history of Southwest Virginia. His support helped ensure its success and the project is current under way. He is a good man and I am confident he will be a strong partner as we continue to work extremely hard to make Southwest Virginia a better place to live.”

The 38th District includes Tazewell, Russell, Bland, Buchanan, Dickenson and Pulaski counties as well as parts of Montgomery, Smyth and Wise counties, and the cities of Norton and Radford.

— Contact Charles Boothe at cboothe@bdtonline.com

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