BLACKSBURG and PEARISBURG, Va. – An unusually high amount of attention is on a House of Delegates race in southwest Virginia.
Democrat Chris Hurst is trying to unseat Republican Joseph Yost in the 12th District, which covers parts of the New River Valley. The two candidates have raised more than a million dollars combined.
Chris Hurst's story has sparked attention around the world: a local TV news anchor, dealing with the death of his girlfriend, Alison Parker, who was killed on live TV two years ago. He said he doesn't want sympathy votes, rather, he wants to continue to try to make a difference in communities.
"I thought it'd be a natural progression for me after investigating and covering so many different issues and listening to countless families tell me stories of how they've been impacted by state policies," Hurst said.
News outlets all around the world have interviewed the 30-year-old Democrat in the last two weeks. He said after all his years on TV, he wants people to get to know him on a more personal level.
"Yeah and that's why fundamental to my campaign has been knocking on as many doors as possible," he said.
The Hurst campaign has visited more than 20,000 houses.
Hurst wants to increase Virginians' access to Medicaid dollars, and says northern Virginia schools are unfairly benefiting from unbalanced education funding.
The man he's trying to take out of office - Republican Joseph Yost - thinks those claims are false. Representing the area for six years, the 31-year-old has been praised for his work on mental health resources and education.
"Education funding in this area for all the divisions in the 12th District has grown steadily. Is there more work to be done? Absolutely," Yost said.
He said he's ready for that work to resume, and the national attention to die down.
"I'll be honest with you. It's been tiring," Yost said. "I've certainly never had a race like this or seen so much interest in not only my race but any legislative race in the commonwealth."
10 News political analyst Dr. Ed Lynch said this is Yost's toughest test yet.
"This year, of course, he has a media star running against him who has gotten a ton of money poured into that campaign because the Democrats see this as a possible pickup in their efforts to try to take over the House of Delegates," Lynch said.
Both candidates said they want to see the economy grow and they oppose the pipeline.