Brewer defeats Sadler in GOP Senate race

Published 8:52 pm Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 12:56 p.m. on June 21 with the latest vote totals and comments by Hermie Sadler.

Voters chose Del. Emily Brewer, R-Isle of Wight, over Emporia businessman Hermie Sadler as their preferred Republican nominee for Virginia’s new 17th Senate District.

According to unofficial results, Brewer received 58.7% of more than 16,000 districtwide votes to Sadler’s 41.2%.

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Brewer in November will face Del. Clinton Jenkins, D-Suffolk, who is running as the sole Democratic candidate for the 17th Senate District.

Both GOP candidates carried supermajorities in their home localities, Brewer with 79.5% of Isle of Wight County’s votes and Sadler with just over 70% of Emporia’s ballots. 

Brewer also carried nearly two-thirds of Suffolk, and majorities in Portsmouth, Franklin, Chesapeake and Southampton County. Sadler carried majorities in Brunswick, Dinwiddie and Greensville counties.

As of June 21, seven of the 10 localities comprising the 17th District had yet to count their provisional ballots.

Gov. Glenn Youngkin endorsed Brewer over Sadler, though the Emporia businessman had outspent his rival as of June 12. The race turned contentious in March when ousted Suffolk GOP Chairwoman Dawn Jones in a lawsuit alleged Youngkin and Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares, through their representatives, to have “strong-armed” the Virginia Department of Elections into briefly changing the nomination method from a primary back to a party-run convention.

The 17th’s GOP Legislative District Committee, a body of Republican Party chairs representing the district’s 10 localities, had voted in December to hold a convention, but revoted in March for a state-run primary. State GOP Chairman Rich Anderson, in letters to the Department of Elections, contended Jones should have lacked voting power to switch the method, but a Richmond judge found in favor of Jones’ claims and ordered a primary be held to settle the race.

Since then, the two candidates have each accused the other of being too centrist, with Sadler’s campaign calling Brewer a “RINO” or “Republican in name only,” and Brewer’s noting Sadler had once called Democratic State Sen. L. Louise Lucas “a friend of mine.”

“I am humbled by the confidence that the voters of the 17th Senate District showed in me today,” Brewer said in a press release issued shortly after 9 p.m. “I promise that as the Republican nominee, I will work with Governor Youngkin to cut taxes, be tough on crime in our communities, and stand up for Virginia families and parents.”

Sadler, shortly before 11:20 p.m., told the Smithfield Times he’d called Brewer earlier in the night to congratulate her on her win.

“Although disappointed with the results I am proud of my team and thankful for my family for their dedication to this campaign,” Sadler said. “I hope all Republicans can now unite and win in November.”

Brewer in November will face Del. Clinton Jenkins, D-Suffolk, who is running as the sole Democratic candidate for the 17th Senate District.