One of the more fascinating races this election cycle is for the Republican nomination for Congress in West Virginia’s 2nd District. When Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito decided to run for the U.S. Senate, she did not leave behind an heir apparent.

As a result, there is a crowded field of seven candidates, representing the geographic extremes of the sprawling district, as well as varying levels of political skill, experience and financing.

Robert Fluharty, Steve Harrison, Charlotte Lane, Alex Mooney, Jim Moss, Ken Reed and Ron Walters, Jr., give Republican and Independent voters a choice in the Primary Election one week from today.

I spoke with representatives of three of the campaigns to get a sense of the pathway to victory. Naturally, they vary somewhat, but the basics are similar.

For example, all three expect a very light turnout, typical of an off-year Primary Election.  One camp predicted as few as 26,000 Republicans and Independents would cast ballots in the 17 counties, while another predicted 30,000. The third thought about 34,000 voters would show up.

Let’s split the difference and pick the 30,000 figure.  Divided evenly among the seven, that means a candidate could win with just 4,300 votes.  That’s only 14 percent of the vote.

But of course it won’t turn out to be a seven-way race.  There will probably be two or three near the top and then the rest of the field, with the winning candidate getting around 30 percent, or 9,000 to 10,000 votes.

So, where do the votes come from?  Candidates like to say they’re running in the entire district, but the biggest chunks of Republican and Independent voters are in Kanawha (65,000) and Berkeley (44,000) counties.  Although a spokesperson for one campaign suggested to me the importance of Upshur County; just 10,000 Republican and Independent voters, but a reputation for a high turnout.

The geographic bases of the candidates make the race even more intriguing.  Mooney and Reed are from the eastern panhandle, while the other five are from the Kanawha Valley.   Mooney and Reed have to worry that they split the panhandle vote, and then come up short in the valley, while the Kanawha County candidates have the same concerns; they could divide up the votes five ways, giving an advantage to Mooney or Reed.

This is a unique position for West Virginia Republicans. The party has often struggled to fill the ballot with qualified candidates. This year, however, the race for the nomination in WV-2 has a field of legitimate GOP candidates fighting for playing time.


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  • Massey

    Alex Mooney will probably win this thing which in turn hands the Democrats the best chance of picking up the seat. There is no doubt this will be a regional race come November. Kanawha votes for Casey and the Panhandle votes for Marylander Mooney. Putnam will vote for a chicken gizzard before any Democrat. All of this means the race will be won in the hollers. Remember Capito won this seat by several thousand votes in 2000.

  • The bookman

    I'm with ya mtnman. Sadly, a week out from the primary and half a year from the General is no time to find oneself tired of the politics.

  • mntnman

    If all the republicans registered as democrats would register properly, I suspect that WV would be more republican than democrat. And I think that goes back a decade or so. Coming from a county represented by three republican delegates (two really fine men) and a republican senator, I have seen this shift long before now. Even when we were represented by democrats, they were in truth, republicans running as democrats, for the most part. So far, it hasn't really helped us much in Mercer County. Perhaps things will change -- I dunno'. I just wish someone would do something -- tired of the grid lock and excuses. Tired of the partisanship. (Its hot and the a/c isn't working -- the office is like a sauna today.) Looking for someone to make things better. Haven't seen that person or persons yet. Maybe like the unicorn, they are just a myth.

  • H Bomb

    Ken Reed is a WV native who has lived in both panhandles and has property in Morgantown and the southern part of the state. Ken has extensive knowledge of the medical field and small business. This makes for a very strong resume compared to recent college graduate Walters, and recent WV citizen Mooney. Mr. Reed has worked for large pharmacies like Rite Aid and has assisted veterans through work at the VA. So while other candidates are buying endorsements and learning to sing Country Roads, Mr. Rees is ready for office.

  • Joe Schmoe

    The Obama factor is enough

  • Hillbilly

    And Reed is also a pharmacist, NOT a lawyer or politician!

  • Kevin

    I've been impressed with Reed. Very smart, witty and decisive. Has proven himself as great small businessman. He has a great family too. Much of Mooney's funding is from Maryland, reportedly. (I'll leave that for Hoppy to discuss.) I think Reed could the next up and comer from WV.

  • kensgirl

    Mooney is probably the best-known in the EP based on his very active presence across the river in MD before he moved in here. I was driving through Jefferson Co. en route to Berkeley last week and was very surprised at the number of Mooney signs I saw there. But he's also the only one from whom we've gotten calls and literature. I'd give him the edge in organization.

  • The bookman

    I really have felt that this race was between Mooney and Reed in the EP and Layne and Walters in the KV. After yesterday's interview with Layne, I don't think she can be considered a serious candidate. Of the three, Mooney has the best organization and the most abrasive personality, Walters seems highly polished and well connected, and Reed brings enthusiasm and inexperience. Any would be a better choice than the likely Democrat nominee, Nick Casey, but I'm heavily leaning to Reed. Walters would be my second choice, followed by Mooney. For what it's worth, that's how I see it.

    Given the expanse of the district, I fear Mooney wins it, pitting two very partisan candidates against each other in the general. He has the money and organization to garner a presence from the Potomac to the Kanawha. Nasty campaign ads and social issues, along with the associated anti Obama, republicans starving kids and stealing money from Grandma rhetoric will rule the race, and we won't be able to wait until November for it to be over.

  • Wowbagger

    Gee Jim, I'm disappointed you are prejudiced against bald guys, but then I am prejudiced against the right handed.

  • Wirerowe

    Should be a republican seat. Won't be.

  • Jim N Charleston


    I'll vote between the candidate who is the best looking among the females and who has the most hair amongst the males. Proven Strategy for the primaries.

    All I got
    I'm Jim N So Charleston

  • Wowbagger

    I have always puzzled over WV-2. Designed by Democrats to protect Rayhal and Mollohan, WV-2 appears to be designed to elect Republicans. This is, of course why there is a big field. I love unintended consequences!

  • CaptainQ

    Well Hoppy, this is an interesting development. I actually live in the 2nd District, and of all the GOP candidate you listed, Charlotte Lane is the only person I've ever heard of. Name recognition could be a problem for the Primary winner here. There has to be a better reason to vote for the Republican in November than simply 'the Obama Factor,' otherwise the Democrats could pick this seat up.

    This one could be a really close race.