Tuesday evening was a bittersweet victory for Chris Hurst.
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A former anchor at WDBJ-TV in Roanoke, Virginia, he bested Republican incumbent Joseph Yost, with 54 percent of the vote for a state delegate seat representing the 12th District, which includes Montgomery County.
Hurst’s path to the statehouse began in tragedy.
On Aug. 26, 2015, Hurst’s girlfriend, WDBJ reporter Alison Parker, was shot and killed along with cameraman Adam Ward by a former station employee during a live newscast. Parker’s and Ward’s deaths shocked the newsroom and turned Hurst’s life upside down.
“We were together almost nine months. It was the best nine months of our lives. We wanted to get married. We just celebrated her 24th birthday,” he wrote on Facebook the day of her death.
Hurst wrote that he and Parker, 24, were “very much in love” and they had just moved in together.
After her death, Hurst tried to return to work at the station but found it “emotionally difficult,” he said in an interview with CNN.
“Alison and Adam Ward’s death connected me to humanity more than anything else,” Hurst said on CNN’s “New Day” on Wednesday morning. “I, through tragedy, had a shared experience and common bond with so many who have gone through tragedy ... It galvanized me to my community.”
So he decided to run for public office to give back to the community that helped him in his grief.
“I think it’s apathy and indifference from so many that led to Alison’s death, and I couldn’t be indifferent any longer,” Hurst said in a campaign ad. “I don’t want your pity. I don’t want your sympathy vote.”
During the nine months he spent campaigning, he focused on education, infrastructure and expanding Medicaid in Virginia. But he still found a way to honor Parker, hanging up in his campaign office a framed copy of the Virginia lawmakers’ resolution that memorialized her.
Claiming victory Tuesday, Hurst told supporters gathered at the Hyatt Place in Blacksburg, “Let this be a sign of how you can respond when things don’t go your way.”
He told MSNBC Wednesday morning that his win is “very bittersweet.”
“Obviously, I wish that I was still with Allison and was still a journalist working at the television station that we worked at together, but that wasn’t the plan that God had intended for me and for her,” Hurst said.