CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Republicans kept their majorities in the state Senate and House of Delegates but lost their majority leaders.
The majority leader is the second-in-command of the majority in each house. They help run floor sessions and set priorities. Sometimes they have to be the bad guy. Often, they take blame.
Senate Majority Leader Ryan Ferns, a Republican, was defeated by challenger William Ihlenfeld, a Democrat.
Ihlenfeld, a former federal prosecutor, won the race by 2,003 votes. Both are from Wheeling.
In the House of Delegates, Republican Riley Moore was named the new majority leader for the upcoming legislative session.
But he won’t get a chance to serve in that role.
Moore was defeated by former Delegate John Doyle by 875 votes. Their race was in Jefferson County.
Moore is a nephew of U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito and a grandson of former Gov. Arch Moore.
That happened after House Speaker Tim Armstead resigned to run for the state Supreme Court.
Delegate Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, was elected the new House speaker. He’d been strongly supported by Moore and reciprocated by extending his own support.
“Riley is a passionate fighter for bold, conservative reforms in our state, and his vision, leadership and dedication will be vital as we continue to chart the course of West Virginia’s comeback story,” Hanshaw stated in September.
The House majority leader for the past four years has been Delegate Daryl Cowles, a Republican from Morgan County. Cowles won his bid for re-election.
Coming in to Election Day, Republicans had a 22-12 majority in the Senate and a 64-36 majority in the House.
As Election Night came to a close, Republicans had a 59-41 majority in the House. They came out of Election Night with a 20-14 majority in the Senate.
Senate President Mitch Carmichael, who was not on the ballot this year, earlier predicated a good night for his caucus.
“I think we’ll pick up a couple of seats,” said Carmichael, R-Jackson. “I think we’ll be in good shape.”
Another Republican incumbent senator, Ed Gaunch, was defeated.
Gaunch lost to Democrat Richard Lindsey by 288 votes.
There will be some new faces in the Senate.
Eric Tarr, a Republican, was elected to a 4th District seat that had been held by Mark Drennan, an appointee who lost in the primary.
Rollan Roberts, another Republican, won the 9th District race over former lawmaker Bill Wooton. That seat had been held by appointee Lynn Arvon, who also lost in the primary.
Bill Hamilton, still another Republican, won the sprawling 11th District. Hamilton, who was a delegate, defeated incumbent Robert Karnes in the primary.
Some delegates who challenged incumbent senators were defeated.
Those included Republican Mike Folk who challenged Democrat John Unger and Republican George “Boogie” Ambler who challenged Democrat Stephen Baldwin.
Several incumbent delegates were defeated.
Those included Mark Zatezalo, R-Hancock; Scott Brewer, D-Mason; Ricky Moye, D-Raleigh; Charlotte Lane, R-Kanawha; Dana Lynch, D-Webster; Richard Iaquinta, D-Harrison; Guy Ward, R-Marion; Joe Statler, R-Monongalia; Cindy Frich, R-Monongalia; and Jill Upson, R-Jefferson.