LOGAN, W.Va. — Richard Ojeda was in a hospital bed on Sunday. Tuesday he was on the victory platform, having pulled off a stunning upset in the 7th State Senatorial District, defeating incumbent Art Kirkendoll (D-Logan).
A long-time county commissioner from Logan, Kirkendoll won his State Senate seat in 2012, but he was ousted in the Democratic primary Tuesday. Ojeda suffered facial fractures after being attacked from behind at a political event in Whitman in Logan County Sunday afternoon. Ojeda claimed the attack was politically motivated, though Kirkendoll denied having any part in the attack and condemned the violence on his opponent.
Kirkendoll was the only one of the 13 incumbents (seven Democrats and six Republicans) who lost in Tuesday’s primary.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch Carmichael (R-Jackson) held off fellow Republican Dustin Lewis in the 4th State Senatorial district race. Carmichael was the target of both pro-labor and pro-family forces for his votes in this year’s senate. Carmichael moves on to November’s general election, where he will face Putnam County attorney Brian Prim, who won his Democratic primary.
Donna Boley (R-Pleasants), who is the longest serving current Senate member, defeated fellow State Senator Bob Ashley (R-Roane) by nearly 5,000 votes after Ashley decided to challenge Boley instead of trying retain the unexpired term for his current seat.
Other incumbents who defeated challengers in Tuesday’s primary were Roman Prezioso (D-Marion) and Craig Blair (R-Berkeley). Blair beat former Delegate Larry Kump by 3,700 votes. All the other Senate incumbents ran unopposed.
Current House members who were successful in Senate primaries on Tuesday included Brian Weld (R-Brooke), Mike Azinger (R-Wood), Dave Perry (D-Fayette), Denise Campbell (D-Randolph), Stephen Skinner (D-Jefferson), Chris Stansbury (R-Kanawha). All 17 Senate seats will feature contested race in November’s general election.
On the House side, not a single incumbent lost, though a few counties had not reported all their precincts as of 1:00 a.m. Wednesday.
In his first run for political office, Moore Capito (R-Kanawha), the son of U.S. Senator Shelley Moore-Capito (R-W.Va.) led the Republican ticket in his 35th Delegate district race. His cousin, Riley Moore (R-Jefferson), won a contested primary of his own, taking 78 percent of the primary vote.
House of Delegates Speaker Tim Armstead (R-Kanawha) easily outdistanced two challengers, including a labor-back Ronald Shamblin. Armstead received 68 percent of the vote.
The two closest races came in the 11th Delegate district, where Rick Atkinson III defeated fellow Republican Riley Keaton by just 31 votes. And in the 63rd Delegate district, Kenny LeMaster, Jr., won by 94 votes over Michael Santa Barbara on the Democratic side.
With the primary election behind them, lawmakers will now focus on next week’s special session, where they will work on the state budget.