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Robert Hurt (R) Robert Hurt (R)

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Virginia-5

Robert Hurt (R)

Vital Statistics

 

  • Born: June 16, 1969
  • Family: Married, Kathy Hurt; three children
  • Religion: Presbyterian
  • Education: Hampden-Sydney College, B.S., 1991; Mississippi College School of Law, J.D., 1995
  • Career: Attorney, Law Offices of Robert Hurt, 2008-present; attorney, H. Victor Millner Jr., P.C., 1999-2008; chief assistant, Pittsylvania County Commonwealth’s Attorney, 1996-99
  • Elected Office: Virginia Senate, 2008-present; Virginia House, 2002-07; Chatham Town Council, 2001

Virginia’s 5th Congressional District is conservative territory that was safely in Republican hands for most of the last decade until 2008, when upstart Democrat Tom Perriello won it during one of the biggest upsets of that year’s Democratic wave. Now, with Republican state Sen. Robert Hurt running a strong campaign, the GOP has high hopes of taking the seat back on Tuesday.

Virginia’s 5th Congressional District is conservative territory that was safely in Republican hands for most of the last decade until 2008, when upstart Democrat Tom Perriello won it during one of the biggest upsets of that year’s Democratic wave. Now, with Republican state Sen. Robert Hurt running a strong campaign, the GOP has high hopes of taking the seat back on Tuesday.

Hurt was born in New York, N.Y., the son of Henry Hurt, a journalist and editor for Reader’s Digest. In 1986, Henry Hurt wrote a book questioning the findings of the Warren Commission called Reasonable Doubt: An Investigation into the Assassination of John F. Kennedy. He did much of his writing in rural Chatham, Va., where he and his wife raised their three children. Robert Hurt went to Hargrave Military Academy and then on to the private Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Va. He earned an undergraduate degree in English and then a law degree at Mississippi College before returning to Chatham to practice law. Robert’s brother, Charlie Hurt, became a journalist like their father, and is the Washington bureau chief for The New York Post. Robert Hurt became a chief assistant attorney for Pittsylvania County, and in 2001, began his career in politics with his election to the Chatham Town Council. A year later, he successfully ran for the Virginia House of Delegates, where he served until 2007. Hurt ran successfully for the state Senate the following year.

When the 2010 congressional elections approached, Perriello was among the most vulnerable freshman lawmakers. He had snatched the Republican-leaning district away by only 727 votes from then Rep. Virgil Goode, a six-term conservative Republican who left the Democratic Party in 2000. Goode had been reelected by comfortable margins every two years until the Obama presidential campaign brought a flood of new voters to the polls that year, including many African-American voters in the Southside counties in the 5th District. Hurt was eager to take on Perriello, but so were six other Republicans, especially after Goode indicated he would not be back for a rematch.

During the primary campaign, Hurt won the confidence of establishment Republicans, but also angered conservatives when he refused to debate a tea-party candidate, businessman Jeff Clark, who called Hurt “a situational conservative.” Hurt said Clark was “not serious about his campaign or his ability to win.” Hurt won a convincing primary victory, getting 48 percent of the vote. Clark stayed in the race as an independent, setting up a three-way contest in November.

In his campaign, Hurt slammed Perriello for his votes in favor of President Obama’s $787 billion economic stimulus bill, the Democrats’ health-care overhaul, and their legislation to cap industrial carbon emissions. He said he would try to reduce the size of the federal budget with free-market solutions rather than through stimulus programs. Hurt also vowed not to vote for any bill that contains earmarks, the special projects that lawmakers tuck into spending bills for their districts. Perriello attacked Hurt for supporting then-Democratic Gov. Mark Warner’s 2004 budget, which increased state taxes by $1.4 billion. Hurt responded that as a state legislator he has voted against more than two dozen tax increases.

Both candidates have robust fund-raising operations, although with $3.4 million raised, Perriello raised considerably more than Hurt, who took in $1.9 million. Hurt also lost out on the endorsement of the National Rifle Association, which backed Perriello in accordance with its policy of supporting gun rights-friendly incumbents.

 
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