US TV anchor whose girlfriend was killed on-air gets stunning election win

A former TV anchor whose girlfriend was shot dead on-air has claimed a stunning victory over a three-term incumbent state delegate in a rural US election.

Chris Hurst, 30, supported stricter gun safety measures, but centred his Virginia campaign around other issues including an expansion of Medicaid and increased funding for schools.

He was one of several upset winners in state House elections on Tuesday (Wednesday NZT) that could tip the majority to Democrats when the final recounts are completed.

"We can seize on this opportunity to expand Medicaid in the Commonwealth so that everybody who is working but living in poverty can have access to health insurance," Hurst told a crowd of ecstatic supporters in Blacksburg, home of Virginia Tech.

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"We can go big on education to make sure our teachers are supported in the Commonwealth."

The race was hard-fought, but Hurst defeated Republican Representative Joseph Yost handily - 54 - 46 per cent.

The numbers mirrored almost exactly Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ralph Northam's margin of victory over Republican Ed Gillespie.

Hurst, like most Democratic candidates in the state, also ran against President Trump.

"We are going to stand up to bigotry and intolerance, we are going to speak out against injustice, and we are going to fight for the most vulnerable among us," Hurst said to rousing applause.

On August 26, 2015, Alison Parker was conducting a live interview for WDBJ-TV in Roanoke when a former reporter at the station walked up and fatally shot her and cameraman Adam Ward.

Parker was 24, Ward was 27.

The shooting took place at about 6.45am, at Smith Mountain Lake, a resort about 56 kilometres from Roanoke.

The live broadcast showed Parker interviewing Chamber of Commerce official Vicki Gardner when, just off camera, shots rang out. Parker is heard screaming, and the video appears to include a glimpse of the gunman dressed in black.

Gardner also was shot but survived.

Police identified the shooter as Vester Flanagan, known on-air as Bryce Williams, who died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound after a police pursuit.

Tens of thousands of area residents saw the shooting live on the morning news and - and later saw footage of the attack from the shooter's perspective on Flanagan's Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Hurst is a Philadelphia native who moved to the Blue Ridge Mountains region after college. He took to Twitter after the shooting.

"She was the most radiant woman I ever met. And for some reason she loved me back. She loved her family, her parents and her brother," Hurst tweeted.

And later: "I am comforted by everyone at @WDBJ7. We are a family. She worked with Adam every day. They were a team. I am heartbroken for his fiancee."

Hurst says on his campaign website that the murders set him on a "different path." His news career was fulfilling but "instead of asking questions, I became focused on finding solutions," he says.

"Your continued prayers and support now give me the strength to move forward and be a courageous fighter for all Virginians," he said.

- USA Today