Former NASCAR driver Hermie Sadler declares state Senate candidacy

Published 6:03 pm Tuesday, December 6, 2022

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Del. Emily Brewer, R-Isle of Wight, will face retired NASCAR driver Hermie Sadler of Emporia in a June 20, 2023 Republican primary election for Virginia’s newly created 17th District Senate seat.

Hermie Sadler

Sadler announced his candidacy Nov. 9, pledging on his campaign website to “put the pedal to the metal for Virginia” as a “conservative outsider” in the race.

Virginia’s Supreme Court adopted new legislative districts at the end of 2021 based on the results of the 2020 Census. Brewer, who’s represented the reliably Republican and largely rural 64th House of Delegates District since 2017, found herself moved to a newly created, Suffolk-heavy 84th District, which is projected to break for Democrats based on votes cast in the 2016 presidential election.

Rather than seek reelection to the House in 2023, Brewer announced in January that she would instead be running for Virginia’s newly created Senate District 17, also created from the redistricting process. The 17th includes all of Isle of Wight, Southampton, Greensville and Brunswick counties, the cities of Suffolk, Franklin and Emporia, and parts of Portsmouth and Dinwiddie County.

The Virginia Public Access Project forecasts the seat to lean Republican based on the 2021 governor’s race, though a memorandum by the Supreme Court’s map-drawers, Bernard Grofman and Sean Trende, had listed the seat as leaning Democratic based on votes cast in the 2017 Virginia attorney general election.

“I was born and raised in the small town of Emporia, Virginia, but the Virginia we see today is not the Virginia I knew growing up that afforded the opportunity of the American Dream for all citizens,” Sadler said in a press release. “That’s why I’m running for Virginia Senate. I want my children and yours to have the same blessings of a free and prosperous life just as our generation had, and if we want that dream to be realized, we have to act now. The government is supposed to work for the people in this commonwealth, not for out-of-state special interests and other political agendas. It’s time for new leadership in Richmond.”

Sadler, according to his website, made his NASCAR debut in 1992 and earned Rookie of the Year honors in 1993. He competed in 66 NASCAR Cup Series and over 250 Busch Series races throughout his career, founding his own NASCAR team in 2001 before joining FOX NASCAR as a pit reporter.

Sadler married his wife, Angie, in 1996. The couple now own several restaurants in the Emporia area, including FOSHO Bar and Grille, where Hermie announced his Senate bid.

Emily Brewer

Brewer issued the following statement Nov. 14 in response to Sadler’s announcement.

“My focus now and heading into 2023 is working on representing the people and the community that I love in Western Tidewater as well as introducing myself to the communities that will be a part of the new Senate district. I have worked to provide exemplary constituent service, stood up for the unborn, worked to legislate sweeping changes in adoption and foster care reform to protect children, consistently protected the Second Amendment, and fought for broadband access and funding. Public office is about ‘We The People’ not one individual and I feel confident the voters want a fighter that will get things done. I am the only candidate in this race who has a proven conservative track record and look forward to earning the vote of each Virginian in the 17th Senate District.”

Del. Clint Jenkins, D-Suffolk, announced his intention earlier this year to run for the 17th District Senate seat on the Democratic ticket. Michelle Joyce of Smithfield, who ran unsuccessfully against Brewer in 2019, has announced her intent to seek the 84th District House of Delegates seat.