Notes from the 2018 Primary Election:
—Of the 1,227,600 West Virginians currently registered to vote, unofficially 23.7 percent cast a ballot in Tuesday’s primary. Those who voted on the Democratic side outnumbered those who picked from the Republican slate, 157,551 to 133,048. In the last non-presidential year primary, the voter turnout was 19.7 percent.
—The Republican primary victory by Patrick Morrisey in the U.S. Senate race came because he won a wide swath of support in the central and northern parts of the state. Morrisey earned 35 percent of the Republican primary vote, compared to 29 percent that went to Evan Jenkins, 20 percent to Don Blankenship, 10 percent to Tom Willis, four percent to Jack Newbrough and three percent to Bo Copley.
—Jenkins, who has served two terms as the 3rd Congressional district representative in the U.S. House before this year’s run for a Senate seat, earned victories in most of those southern counties that comprised his 3rd district. But he didn’t have much luck in breaking out of that region, as he was the leading vote getter in only two counties (Pocahontas and Webster) out of that southern district.
On the other side, Morrisey won 32 counties, including dominating his home area of the Eastern Panhandle. He won by over 3,700 votes in Berkeley County and 2,400 votes in Jefferson County. Blankenship was the leading vote getter in four counties (Calhoun, Clay, Mingo and Roane).
—With his win in the Republican primary, Morrisey will now face Democratic incumbent Joe Manchin in the general election, which will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 6. Manchin again won the Democratic nomination for a U.S. Senate seat, picking up 70 percent of the vote compared to 30 percent that went to his primary challenger, Paula Jean Swearengin.
Those percentages are similar to Manchin’s past primary victories. After the death of West Virginia’s long-time Senator Robert Byrd in 2010, a special election was held. Manchin won that primary with 66.8 percent of the vote. He eventually defeated Republican John Raese in the general that fall with 53.5 percent to earn the expiring term.
—Each of the three Congressional races will feature a female in the general election. Democrat Kendra Fershee won the 1st Congressional nomination, while in the 2nd Congressional district, Talley Sergent earned the Democratic nomination. Then on the Republican side, Carol Miller won the primary in the 3rd Congressional district. Fershee, who is a professor at the WVU law school, pulled off a somewhat surprising victory in the Democratic primary in the 1st Congressional. She defeated Wheeling lawyer Ralph Baxter, winning 48 percent of the vote. Baxter earned 39 percent, while the third challenger in the field, Tom Payne, came away with 13 percent of the vote.
—The home bases of the two top Democrats were key to Fershee’s win. The four Northern Panhandle counties went heavily for Baxter, 9,819 to 1,687. But that substantial lead in the Northern Panhandle wasn’t enough to overcome Fershee’s dominance in north central West Virginia, where the Morgantown resident held an edge in that four-county region, 15,213 to 4,275. Fershee will now face David McKinley in November’s general election. McKinley is a four-term Congressman who ran unopposed this year in the Republican primary.
—In the 2nd Congressional district, Sergent defeated Aaron Scheinberg in Tuesday’s Democratic primary, 62 percent to 38 percent. She will take on Republican Alex Mooney in the general election. Money, who has served two terms in the House, was unopposed in this year’s Republican primary.
—The seat in the 3rd Congressional district had been held by Evan Jenkins prior to his run Republican Senate seat in this year’s primary. With Jenkins out of the Congressional race this time, the general election will be face off between Richard Ojeda, who easily won the Democratic nomination with 52 percent of the vote, and Carol Miller, who slipped past Rupie Phillips on the Republican side 23 percent to 20 percent.