"Gunsense" Candidate In Hot Water After Opponent's Signs Vandalized

(Heather Rousseau/The Roanoke Times via AP)

Virginia Del. Chris Hurst is one of the gun control lobby’s favorite politicians in the state. Everytown for Gun Safety cheered when their endorsed (and funded) candidate won election to the House of Delegates in 2017, after a campaign that largely focused on the murder of his girlfriend Alison Parker on live television in 2015 and his desire to impose new gun control laws in the state.

Oddly though, Everytown for Gun Safety hasn’t been nearly as vocal in its support of Hurst in his re-election campaign this year. Maybe it’s because Hurst was pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving in early 2020, and only managed to avoid arrest thanks to a very helpful police officer who chose to let a passenger drive him home despite Hurst blowing a .085 on a blood alcohol test.

Hurst managed to avoid prosecution, at least according to local media reports, but apparently sometime between January of 2020 and November of this year Hurst’s license was suspended for some reason. At least that’s what the Radford, Virginia police say they discovered when they initiated a traffic stop on Hurst Monday night after reports that he and his passenger were vandalizing campaign signs; signs that belong to Hurst’s opponent.

Hurst was pulled over after a Radford City Sheriff’s deputy saw a woman turning over and messing with campaign signs at the Radford Rec Center, an election polling precinct. The deputy then saw the woman get in a car. When the deputy did a traffic stop and requested assistance from a Radford Police officer, the driver of the car was identified as Hurst. The woman’s name has not been released.

The Radford Police officer took a statement from the deputy and confirmed damage to several political signs.

Virginia State Police have taken over the investigation at the request of Radford Police.

Jason Ballard, running as a Republican for the same seat Hurst holds, issued this statement:

“I am deeply disappointed that Chris Hurst has decided to end his campaign in such a reckless way. His latest misstep is yet another reason why he doesn’t deserve another term as Delegate. I, on the other hand, will remain laser focused on the issues that matter most to the people of the 12th District. I will always strive to set a good and positive example for my children and the fine people of the New River Valley.”

If Hurst had been busted a week before Election Day, instead of the night before polls opened, I’d say this would have had a significant impact on his race. Given the timing, however, my guess is most voters will have already filled out their ballot before learning of Hurst’s indefensible actions. Still, I wouldn’t be surprised if Hurst’s bid for a third term as a delegate doesn’t work out like he and his allies in the gun control lobby are hoping. The college towns of Blacksburg and Radford are both in Hurst’s district, but there are also a lot of rural voters to account for. In 2020 Montgomery County (the most populous part of Hurst’s district) went for Biden over Trump 51-46, but Trump cleaned up in Giles County; winning 75% of the vote. With Republican voter enthusiasm reported to be much higher than that of Democrats, Hurst’s career in the House of Delegates is definitely in danger, and stupid stunts like this won’t help, even it happened too late to do him much harm.