State Senate candidates Brewer, Sadler set for April 13 forum in Franklin

Published 3:30 pm Thursday, March 30, 2023

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Voters will get a chance next month to size up the two candidates in the hotly contested Republican primary for the new state Senate District 17 seat.

State Del. Emily Brewer, R-Isle of Wight, and retired NASCAR driver Hermie Sadler of Emporia have accepted invitations to participate in a Thursday, April 13, forum at the Camp Community College Workforce Development Center in Franklin. The Smithfield Times, Suffolk News-Herald, The Tidewater News and Windsor Weekly will host the forum, which will be moderated by Times Publisher Steve Stewart.

The forum will begin at 6:30 p.m. and last roughly 90 minutes.

Senate District 17, drawn during 2021 redistricting to reflect numbers in the 2020 Census, covers all of Suffolk, Isle of Wight, Franklin and Southampton, as well as Emporia, Greensville County, Brunswick County and parts of Portsmouth and Dinwiddie County. Political analysts have identified it as one of a handful of “purple” districts statewide that will determine which party controls the state Senate beginning in 2024.

The winner of the Brewer-Sadler primary on June 20 will advance to the November general election, likely against Del. Clinton Jenkins, D-Suffolk, who so far is unopposed for his party’s nomination.

“All eyes are on Senate 17, and our newspapers are pleased to host both Republican candidates on the same stage so that voters can hear their positions on key issues facing Western Tidewater and Virginia,” said Stewart, a former Tidewater News and Suffolk News-Herald publisher. “We hope for a big turnout in Franklin.”

The vigorously debated question of whether the Republican nominee would be determined in a primary or party convention was settled this week by a Richmond judge, who ordered a primary after considering dueling claims that a committee of party chairs in District 17 localities had picked one or the other. 

The forum will consist of opening and closing statements by each candidate and roughly an hour of Q&A with the moderator.