As hinted in my previous piece, Delegate Todd Gilbert of Shenandoah County could also be facing a Republican primary challenger this election cycle. The 15th district, which Mr. Gilbert has represented since 2006, includes Shenandoah and Page Counties as well as a portion of Warren and Rockingham Counties. As reported in today’s issue of the Daily News Record, Mark Prince, a retired airline pilot from northern Shenandoah County may seek the nomination as well. Should Mr. Prince choose to run, his central issues are, as of yet, unknown.
Last night at the meeting of the Harrisonburg Tea Party, I had the opportunity to meet with Mark Berg, a 10th district representative on the Virginia Republican State Central Committee. He announced that he is challenging Beverly Sherwood for the GOP nod in the 29th district. The 29th district, which Ms. Sherwood has represented since 1994, includes the city of Winchester, Frederick County, and a portion of Warren County. As Mr. Berg mentioned, Delegate Sherwood is among a number of Republicans who voted for the recent transportation tax hike, called the largest tax increase in Virginia history.
The Shenandoah Valley is quickly entering uncharted political territory, incumbent legislators facing intraparty challengers. For the nearly two decades that I’ve been involved and active, most elected officials in this region have captured the Republican nomination without question, year after year for as long as they choose to remain in that office. So is 2013 the dawn of a new era of political competition? Will even more candidates emerge to challenge the status quo? Or will this election serve as a mere hiccup in the normal routine? Only time will tell.