“I think people are fed up with being a one party state.” That is how one of the new members of the West Virginia Legislature explains his win, in part, in the November General Election.
“I think our Founding Fathers set this thing up to be a two party system and give everybody a seat at the table and a voice and I think West Virginia is finally coming that way,” said Senator-elect Bill Cole from Mercer County.
Cole, 56, is a car dealer in Bluefield. The Republican beat incumbent Senator Mark Wills, a Democrat, in the 6th Senate District.
The 6th District includes parts of McDowell, Mercer, Mingo and Wayne counties and is traditionally a Democrat stronghold.
“I had so many people come to me and say, ‘I’ve never voted for a Republican before and I’m going to vote for two in this election,’” Cole said on Friday’s MetroNews Talkline.
In all Republicans picked up three seats in the state Senate and eleven seats in the state House of Delegates. Patrick Morrisey, a Republican, was elected Attorney General.
Kanawha County Delegate Doug Skaff, a Democrat who was the top vote getter in the 35th House District, says it’s a transition time in the Mountain State.
“West Virginia is changing,” the incumbent House member said.
“It’s not that people are changing their registrations and there are more Republicans than there are Democrats registered. It’s the fact that their views are trending more middle of the road.”
In the newly formed 35th District, Skaff was the only Democrat candidate elected. The other three candidates are Republicans, two of them new to state politics. Democrats Bobbie Hatfield and Bonnie Brown lost their reelection bids.
“Everyone says, “Oh, it’s more of a Republican district.’ That’s not true,” said Skaff of the changes in the 35th.
“It’s a more moderate district, regardless of if you’re a Republican or a Democrat. Those people want to see people elected or people working for them that represent their views.”
On the Senate side, Cole says political party cannot be the primary focus when the 2013 Regular Legislative Session begins on February 13th.
He says he knows voters are sending him to the State House to do a job.
“I’m honored to have the opportunity to serve them and I’m looking forward to serving the ones who voted for me, the ones who didn’t vote for me and the ones that didn’t vote at all,” Cole said.