Del. Wilt launches re-election bid as familiar opponents line up

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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) — State Delegate Tony Wilt announced on Tuesday he will seek re-election in the 26th District next year to a crowd of supporters in front of the Rockingham Circuit Courthouse.

The Republican has represented a portion of Rockingham County and the entirety of Harrisonburg since replacing Matt Lohr in a special election in 2010.

During a speech, Wilt talked about his conservative policy positions, agriculture issues and Interstate 81 — which he said would be a big issue in the coming year.

"Not just in concept but when it comes to the funding, how that's going to happen, because that's going to affect all of our citizens," Wilt said.

After Democrats nearly won control of Virginia's lower chamber in 2017, the party looks to earn a majority next year.

Wilt said he has a record of reaching across the aisle.

"We have to compromise, we may not all get what we want, but at the end of the day, we have to make compromises," he said.

Representative-elect Ben Cline was also present during Wilt's announcement, along with Rockingham County Clerk of Court Chaz Haywood and Sheriff Bryan Hutcheson.

Del. Wilt is already facing familiar competition.

Cathy Copeland, a JMU professor, and Brent Finnegan previously announced their bids for the Democratic ticket. The two faced off in 2017, but Finnegan — of Broadway — ultimately earned the chance to face off for the seat, which he lost by nearly 10 points.

"What we're really trying to do this time is get out there and meet more people and make sure that our message gets heard," he said.

Finnegan said too many families living paycheck-to-paycheck in the 26th district due to a "systemic failure" by legislators.

"These are people that want to see better wages, better jobs and a better quality of living," Finnegan said.