Home > Campaign 2010, Election 2009: The Aftermath, General Assembly, Local news, Party politics > BREAKING: Lohr to become Ag Commissioner, Leave House

BREAKING: Lohr to become Ag Commissioner, Leave House

Just was alerted to this by a friend of mine who works in the General Assembly–nearby Delegate Matt Lohr (R-26) has been appointed as Commissioner for the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Lohr has not yet resigned from the House and will not take the job until May 1st. However, from the tone of his letter (click read more below for the complete letter) he has decided to resign (and almost certainly has to under state law), meaning the move will surely trigger a special election in the district, which comprises Harrisonburg and parts of Rockingham County.

Lohr is a familiar face to those in the Valley, including Shenandoah County, as he often appears on WHSV, the main station for the area. Lohr previously served as a statewide FFA officer and runs his own family farm and pick your own pumpkin patch. I’ve worked very closely with the Delegate on several campaigns and worked with his staff during his first year in the House (he and Delegate Gilbert were both members of the class of 2005). Lohr is definitely an excellent pick for the position, as he brings both extensive knowledge and passion to the position. His letter to supporters is below the fold.

Of course, even with this happy news for the Lohr Family, this does mean that a special election will be triggered in Harrisonburg and creates practical political concerns. The seat went heavily for Lohr in the fall, scoring 73% of the vote and even carrying the city proper, which was the first time a Republican Delegate candidate had since 2001. However, Democrats currently control city council, and they won in 2005 (Kaine only), 2006 and 2008. The city makes up a slim majority of the district, so it could be in play. Still, the overwhelmingly Republican nature of the district makes me lean towards making this a likely Republican hold.

The field may already be cleared, but names to watch as the election develops, on the Republican side:

Chaz Evans Haywood, Clerk of Court
Tom Mendez, City School Board
Mike Meredith, former GOP Chairman
John Elledge, former LA to Delegate Glenn Weatherholtz
Tracy Evans, former city council candidate and City GOP Chair
Kerri Wilson, former City GOP Chair and City School Board Member
Pablo Cuevas, Board of Supervisors member

On the Democratic side:

Kai Denger, Mayor
Gene Hart, Democratic nominee in 2009
Lowell Fulk, Democratic nominee in 2003 and 2005

Wild cards (independents):
Rodney Eagle, 2003 State Senate candidate and former Mayor
Carolyn Frank, 2005 Independent Candidate for Delegate and Councilwoman
Myron Rhodes, local political gadfly and blogger

We’ll track this story as it develops. This may even be enough intrigue to convince me to attend the Rockingham-Harrisonburg LDD this Friday.

Dear Friends,

These types of letters are never easy to write, but I wanted to personally let you know about a big change that has just taken place. Recently, the McDonnell administration contacted me about possibly joining their team as the new Commissioner for the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services I was honored to be considered, but needed time to evaluate the situation and prayerfully consider the proposal. After many discussions with my family, I have decided to go forward and earlier today the governor made his official announcement. It was a difficult decision to make because I truly love my job as a delegate.

I wanted to send a personal letter thanking you for all your friendship, trust, and support these past five years. You have no idea how much that has meant to Andrea and me. It has been such a tremendous honor representing the 26th District in the Virginia House of Delegates and I will miss serving in this role tremendously. Since 2005, I have worked tirelessly to improve our educational systems, strengthen agriculture, promote public safety, hold the line on new taxes, fight for our family values, and be the best possible public servant I could be. We accomplished much and I am proud of my tenure in office. Thank you for your prayers, support, ideas, and friend ship.

As most of you know, my passion in life has truly centered on the agricultural industry. The farm that I own today has been in my family for over 100 years and I come from a long line of farmers who have cared for and loved the land. It has been a privilege to be involved in agriculture my entire life as an FFA member, a leader in farm bureau, and as a member of the General Assembly. I truly love being part of such an important industry. I am deeply honored to step into this role and I look forward to continuing my work with you. I am also excited that I will be able to divide my time working from both Richmond and Harrisonburg in this new role, so we will not have to move away from the Valley.

I know the 26th District will be left in good hands. If I can ever be of service to you in the future, please do not hesitate to get in touch with me. Thanks again and may God continue to bless you and your family!

Matt Lohr

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