Virginia 38th District Senate race - Chad Dotson

Former Wise County Circuit Court judge Chad Dotson is the latest candidate for the Republican nomination to run in March for the Virginia 38th District state Senate seat.

WISE — A former Wise County Circuit Court judge is among the field of hopefuls for the Republican nomination to fill the 38th state Senate seat in March.

Chad Dotson, a law professor at the Appalachian School of Law who resigned from the bench in August, announced his candidacy Wednesday.

Dotson joins five people who

have announced since Tuesday, including:

— Dickenson County Sheriff’s Deputy Jony Baker

— Self-described farming mother Kimberly Lowe

— Lebanon, Virginia, Town Council member Elijah Leonard

— Tazewell County Board of Supervisors member Travis Hackworth

— Tazewell County lawyer and former Buchanan County prosecutor Tamara Neo

Gov. Ralph Northam on Tuesday ordered a special election on March 23 to fill the seat vacated by the death of A. Ben Chafin on Jan. 1 from COVID-19 complications

Dotson, 47 and a Wise resident, is running for a seat which previously has been held by two Russell County residents: Democrat Philip Puckett and Republican Chafin.

“The Chafin family has been good to me,” Dotson said of his friendship with Chafin. “I wanted to wait to announce out of respect to the family.”

Dotson cited his background as law professor, judge and past Wise County commonwealth’s attorney as strong credentials to represent a district spanning Norton, part of Wise County and all of Bland, Buchanan, Dickenson, Russell, Tazewell, Smyth and Pulaski counties, as well as the city of Radford and part of Montgomery County.

“All the candidates have their strengths, but I have a fairly unique background as prosecutor, judge and constitutional law professor,” Dotson said. “I spent the early part of my life in the eastern part of the district, and I have relatives in Pulaski and Bland. I think I can span the entire district.”

The March 23 special election date means the 38th District seat remains empty during the General Assembly session, which began Wednesday.

“Unfortunately, 200,000 Virginians won’t have representation this session,” Dotson said. “With what I’m seeing in Richmond, we have to have somebody strong in the Senate.”

Jack Morgan, a Ninth District Republican Committee official involved in the nominating process for the special election, said Wednesday that the party will hold a firehouse primary on Thursday, Jan. 21, from 1-7 p.m. at locations in counties and cities in the 38th District to be announced by Friday.