The 2014 election is still a ways off, and candidates have until Jan. 25, 2014 to register to run, but some races in the West Virginia state Senate are already taking shape.  Here are a few of them.

–1st District (Marshall, Ohio, Brooke, Hancock).  The seat is held by Democrat Rocky Fitzsimmons, a Democrat from Wheeling, who was appointed by Gov. Tomblin last year to fill a vacancy.  He’ll be running next year to try to win the seat outright.

That race got significantly more interesting yesterday when Ryan Ferns, a Democratic House of Delegates member from Wheeling, announced that he’s switching to the Republican Party and running for Senate.

Ferns has to deal with political fallout from a party switch, but Republicans have fared well in the 1st.  The seat used to be held by Andy McKenzie, a Republican who is now the mayor of Wheeling. Republican Attorney General Patrick Morrisey carried the district in 2012.

–2nd District (Marshall, Wetzel, Monongalia, Marion, Tyler, Doddridge, Ritchie, Gilmer, Calhoun).  Larry Edgell, a Democrat from New Martinsville, has held the seat since 1998 and will be running for re-election in 2014.

Edgell may have his toughest race in years.  Republican Kent Leonhardt from Monongalia County is making his second stab at politics. The retired Marine, who is now a farmer, ran a close race against Walt Helmick (52%-48%) for state Agriculture Commissioner in 2012.

–5th District (Cabell, Wayne).  This seat is open because current Senator Even Jenkins switched from the Democratic to Republican Party and entered the 3rd District Congressional race against Nick Rahall.

So far there are two candidates in the race; Michael Woelfel, a Democratic attorney from Huntington, and Vicki Dunn-Marshall, a Republican businesswoman from Barboursville.

Cabell is a Democratic County, but Republicans have had success there. Republican women hold two House of Delegates seats and two County Commission seats.

–12th District (Harrison, Lewis, Braxton, Clay, Gilmer).  Governor Tomblin appointed Democratic House of Delegates member Sam Cann earlier this year to fill a vacancy.  Often existing office holders will get a pass in the Primary Election, but not this time.  Cann faces a stiff challenge from Bridgeport attorney Michael Romano.

Republicans are not conceding the seat. Harrison County School Board member Mike Queen is considering entering the race. Queen switched from the Democratic to the Republican Party a few weeks ago in preparation for the race. Queen would have to resign the school board seat the moment he files to run for another office.

–15th District (Mineral, Hampshire, Morgan, Berkeley).  This is another seat filled by Gov. Tomblin when a vacancy occurred.  The position went to Donald Cookman, the longtime Democratic circuit judge from Romney.

Cookman will try to win the seat outright in 2014, but he will face stiff opposition.  Former House of Delegates Minority Leader Charlie Trump has decided to get back into politics and has signed up to run in this heavily Republican district.

Democrats hold a 24-10 advantage in the Senate, with half of the seats up next year.  Republicans are mounting a major recruiting effort to try to narrow the disparity.  The five races mentioned above show that the leg work is paying off.


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  • BAC

    The W.Va. legislature has been solidly Democrat since 1930 (83 years). We're near the bottom in almost every category. Think it might be time to try something different?

    • Nick Joe Manchin Rahall


    • Red Dwarf

      Nah. Maybe NEXT time they'll do better. We say that every election, but really, next time.

  • clair thompson

    Please people think about who you vote for next Nov. Our very nation not just our state is in deep trouble.

  • leroy jethro gibbs

    the only reason these guys were democrats is either because its not cool to be republican
    or they are living in the past thinking of the kennedy days and how wva saved him in the primary. democrats around here are too conservative to be dc democrats

  • Lost Creek Slim

    Mike Queen now says he may stay on the school board. This from a man that said he would serve 1 term, then 2 terms and no more on the board. His polling must show he would get beat by either Cann or Romano. I would vote for him for Senate or House, but not for a position that he has consistently stated there should be term limits. Keep your word Mike!

  • Shadow

    Does/will it make any difference? Does anyone really care? I think not.

  • MoMoney

    Red, red, red, red, red, red, red, red state.
    Well the boys around here
    Drinking that ice cold beer,
    Talkin' about girls, talkin' about trucks,
    Runnin' them red dirt roads out, kickin' up dust
    The boys around here
    Sending up a prayer to the man upstairs
    Backwoods legit, don't take no sh*t
    Chew tobacco, chew tobacco, chew tobacco, spit.
    Right in a liberal's eye
    You can't deny
    That when it comes to Obama
    You can Never never trust!
    The Boys 'round here.
    Red, red, red, red, red, red, red state.

    • TD

      Now watch what you say or they'll be calling you a radical,
      Liberal, fanatical, criminal.
      Won't you sign up your name, we'd like to feel you're
      Acceptable, respectable, presentable, a vegetable!

      in other words, a Republican

      • MoMoney

        The five biggest lies in history.
        1. The check's in the mail.
        2. Honey, I promise I'll still love you in the morning.
        3. It was an anti-muslim video that caused the Bhengazi attacks.
        4. If you like your health care plan you can keep your health care plan. Period.
        5. If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. Period.

        • TD

          you put those above "there is no doubt Saddam Hussein posesses weapons of mass destruction" ?


          • Romulus Augustus

            TD, while not exactly verbatim, I doubt you even know who said that.

      • MoMoney

        The WV electorate is going to feast on liberals, like turkey on Thanksgiving, in 2014. Then crap them out. Old, tired liberals will be turned into fart dust. Thanks to your buddy Obama. When the Repubs enlarge their number in the House and take back the US Senate, we can turn our attention to impeach Obama and Biden.

  • CaptainQ

    Hoppy, though there are many political trends taking place in this nation, it's difficult to say how any (or all of those) will affect the typical WV voter.

    Based on the current trends of dislike towards the man who currently occupies the White House in WV, one would assume that this would lead to GOP sweeps in the Mid Term elections next year.

    Not so fast! Obama's actions might not trickle down to affect EVERY state and/or local election in the Mountain State. Sure, polls are polls, but they don't always accurately predict elections in WV.

    I will say this though. If the WV GOP cannot capitalize on all the anti-Obama sediment to create more statewide electoral victories in 2014, they never will. 2014 could be a 'make or break' year for the Republicans in the Mountain State.

    • Nick Joe Manchin Rahall

      In a couple of years, even Joe Manchin will give up the ghost and switch to the Republicans. He will automatically expect to be the new chief of the Republican Party just as he is now the chief of the Demos. Natalie Tennant will also switch over the Republican Party because she doesn't care what party she's with so long as she gets her $95,000+. The remaining Demos will switch to the Republican Party. Glen Gainer will do so and say that all his ancestors back to Methuselah were actually Republicans. And it's complete then.

  • Rich

    Ferns is an egotistical opportunist. He knew he couldn't get re-elected as a delegate because of his DUI and ineffectiveness. He hopes he can win in a wider more populated disctrict. Here's hoping the voters won't be fooled.

  • Aaron

    It is not the values of the individuals that are causing these switches, it is the direction of the Democratic Party.

    Unless of course a West Virginia Democrat is in line with the National Democratic Party. If that's the case then I guess it is the conservative values of the individuals.

  • zero tolerance

    Romano is a HUGE talking head for Obama.

    I don't see Mike Queen surrendering his BOE President position just yet. Would be an interesting battle though as both strive to insert themselves in the latest controversy.

    Sam Cann has been respectable democratic delegate who takes an interest in his constituents needs verses his personal ambitions.

    Should be an interesting election for Harrison County.

  • Linda P

    Hoppy you're pieces are beginning to sound like they've been written by a republican operative...oh yeah that 's right

  • DWM

    I would like to think that those Dems switching parties have come to realize that their party left them years ago and that's why they are switching.

    Having observed politicians for 56 years, I'm more inclined to believe that they are just riding the tide and looking for votes.

  • RRH

    Hoppy, what's your read on the 17th? Raines seems like a decent get for the GOP.

    • Hoppy Kercheval

      I don't believe Raines is running.

  • JTC

    Good move by Dems to get these people to switch, will be a win/win situation with a Dem or a RINO in the seat! Brilliant! Conspiracy theories abound!

  • Romulus Augustus

    Friends, Romans, countrymen lend me your ears---- ooops sorry, wrong play-- oh well, same eventual ending...