CHARLESTON, W.Va. — No matter the outcome of this election cycle, the state Legislature will have a very different look next year.
The House of Delegates is particularly affected by members opting out of running again.
Nineteen delegates declined to run for the seats they’d held. And several delegates who are running for re-election are very recent incumbents, having been appointed to their seats just prior to, during or even right after the past legislative session.
All of the senators who are up for election this cycle are running, although some were newly-appointed.
That means voters are seeing a lot of new names on their ballots.
In the House, the most prominent departure is Speaker Tim Armstead, who is considering a 2020 run for state Supreme Court.
Primary election voters will be choosing among three Republicans in Armstead’s Kanawha County district — Dean Jeffries, Kenneth Tawney and Ronald Shamblin. A Democrat, Melissa Riggs Huffman, will also be on the ballot.
There are lots of other departures from the House, too.
The 3rd Congressional District seat that opened up when incumbent Evan Jenkins decided to run for U.S. Senate drew a lot of interest from incumbent delegates.
Those who opted to run for Congress included Republican Majority Whip Carol Miller of Huntington and her fellow Republicans Marty Gearheart of Bluefield and Rupie Phillips of Man.
Also running for Congress is Democrat Shirley Love of Oak Hill.
So none of those candidates will return to the Legislature.
The congressional field also includes an incumbent senator, Democrat Richard Ojeda, but his Senate seat was not up on this election cycle so he would retain it if he isn’t elected to Congress.
Some members of the House of Delegates also are aiming to move to the state Senate.
Those include Republican Bill Hamilton of Buckhannon, who is taking on incumbent Republican Senator Robert Karnes of Tallmansville in a hotly-contested primary.
Delegate George “Boogie” Ambler, a Republican from Alderson, is aiming to challenge incumbent Senator Stephen Baldwin, a Democrat from Ronceverte. Baldwin was named to the seat by Gov. Jim Justice last fall to replace then-incumbent Ron Miller, whom Justice had hired for his administration.
Delegate Michael Folk, a Republican from Martinsburg, is challenging incumbent John Unger, a Democrat who is also from Martinsburg.
Those matchups wouldn’t take place until the fall. Folk, Unger and Baldwin are unopposed in the primary election on Tuesday. Ambler faces Republican Dan Hill of Glen Ferris in the primary.
Some delegates left the Legislature to run for commission in their home counties.
Those include Michael Ferro, a Democrat from Marshall County, Jeff Eldridge, a Democrat of Lincoln County and Kelli Sobonya, a Republican from Cabell County.
And some delegates just decided not to return.
Those include Republicans Saira Blair of Martinsburg, Allen Evans of Petersburg, Chuck Romine of Huntington, Bill Romine of West Union, Danny Wagner of Philippi and Brad White of Charleston.
John Overington, a Republican from Martinsburg, had been the longest-serving member of the House of Delegates, starting in 1985.
He, too, decided not to run for re-election.
Democrat Justin Marcum of Williamson also is not running for House. Marcum was considering a state Senate run but decided against it.
Longtime Republican Delegate Ron Walters of Charleston resigned the day before the most recent legislative session ended as part of an agreement with the Kanawha County prosecutor’s office over accusations about a false lien.
So Walters is not technically an incumbent. Sharon Lewis Malcolm was appointed to replace him March 22. She is on the ballot and would face either Democrat David Holmes or Alex Urban in the general election.
All the comings and goings have resulted in some newly-competitive races.
Particularly active is the Huntington district where Carol Miller and Chuck Romine have run for House in the past. The remaining incumbent in that district is Democrat Sean Hornbuckle.
Republican voters in that district, the 16th, will have a choice among seven Republicans: Andrew Dornbos, Chris Burger, Daniel Linville, Jarred Cannon, John Mandt Jr., Steven J. Davis and Vera Miller.
And Democrats in the district may choose among Dakota Nelson, David Fattaleh, Matt Spurlock and Hornbuckle.
The race for Blair’s vacated seat in Berkeley County has created a dispute over residency.
Republican Tally Reed’s residency was challenged in court as she runs in the primary election against former Del. Larry D. Kump of Falling Waters. Kanawha Circuit Judge Joanna Tabit this week said Reed’s name should remain on the ballot through the election but her residency may be challenged later.
The Berkeley County seat that Overington held for so long has drawn primary election competition by two Republicans — Kevin Bolen and Tom Bibby. A Democrat, Cynthia Toodle, also hopes to take over the seat.