By Lindsey Ellefson
PHILADELPHIA (CNN) — A former news anchor just elected to Virginia’s House of Delegates said it was too painful to continue at a Roanoke TV station after his girlfriend’s fatal shooting during a live TV broadcast.
Instead, Chris Hurst decided to pursue a state legislative seat, which he won Tuesday night.
In an interview Wednesday on CNN’s “New Day,” the Democrat credited the community he once reported on for its support in the aftermath of the August 2015 tragedy when his girlfriend, Alison Parker, a reporter, and cameraman Adam Ward were shot and killed during a live TV interview for WDBJ.
Hurst told anchor Chris Cuomo, “I remember very vividly when I met you. I met you outside of our television station the day after Alison was killed. I told people since and I’ll tell you and your viewers now that Alison and Adam Ward’s death connected me to humanity more than anything else.”
Hurst said the deaths had given him “a shared experience and a common bond with so many people who have gone through tragedy, who have gone through loss, and now, unfortunately, as we have seen in recent events, have also gone through the tragedy and horror of losing a loved one through gun violence. But it connected me to my community, it galvanized me to my community.”
After the killings, Hurst said he found it too “emotionally difficult” to remain at WDBJ.
“It made me want to stay in no place other than in southwest Virginia and Appalachia, but I couldn’t stay at the station anymore,” he said. “So what could I do that would be a natural progression, to be able to give back to a community, to a people that gave me so much strength, love, prayer and support when I needed it? And this seemed like the right thing to do.”
Hurst made it clear he is not a single-issue candidate, although his campaign platform advocated a reduction in gun violence.
“We really have not been focused on gun violence in this race at all,” he said, noting he is a gun owner himself. “This race has been more about education, more about expanding Medicaid. … This, I think, presents a fantastic opportunity for us to address issues that impact people’s lives on a daily basis.”
When he announced his decision to leave television news and pursue a career in politics in a February op-ed for The Daily Beast, he wrote, “I’m leaving my career at the station where (Parker) worked to fight for the causes she and I value the most.”
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