CHARLESTON, W.Va. — It’s Primary Election day in West Virginia and voters across the state will decide which candidates to nominate for the November General Election.
Presumptive Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump is expected to easily take the Mountain State, adding to his delegate total. In the latest MetroNews West Virginia Poll Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton was closing the gap on U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders.
Only one of West Virginian’s three congressional districts have a challenged race. Second District Congressman Alex Mooney is facing opposition from fellow Republican Marc Savitt. The winner will face one of five Democrats seeking the seat’s nomination.
State GOP Chairman Conrad Lucas emphasized filling out the out the entire ballot, and paying close attention to the judicial races.
“After you’ve passed the convention delegates section, keep going and voting in the non-partisan judicial races, and keep voting for known conservatives,” Lucas said. “It’s essential that Republicans vote for these non-partisan races, particularly the Supreme Court race to continue the pro-business momentum that our party’s brought to West Virginia.”
State Senate President Bill Cole (R-Mercer) will face the winner of today’s Democratic gubernatorial primary in the fall election. Greenbrier Resort owner Jim Justice, former U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin and state Senate Minority Leader Jeff Kessler (D-Marshall) by all accounts have run strong campaigns.
WV Democratic Party Chair Belinda Biafore said all three had run, for the most part, clean and fair campaigns.
“Up until the last week, it’s like everybody starts getting paranoid and everybody wants to take a little jab or a punch at each other,” she said. “For the most part, I think our candidates have done a great job in getting their message out, and in many ways they differ, but in many ways they’re all the same.”
Both chairs were excited by the high voter turnout seen in early voting, and expected that to carry over into Tuesday’s primary.
“There’s been excitement in just the different rallies and events I’ve gone to all across the state,” Biafore said. “Then the early voting numbers have been huge across the state. I think that’s going to carry into tomorrow as well.”
Lucas said the enthusiasm for Donald Trump had contributed to the enthusiasm for some GOP voters, which manifested itself when he nearly filled the Charleston Civic Center for a rally last Thursday.
“There’s so much excitement on the Republican side this year. That was highlighted with (Trump’s) rally on Thursday,” he said. The energy and the momentum is on the side of the Republicans.”
One of the more hotly contested races is in the non-partisan battle for state Supreme Court. The top votegetter Tuesday will win a 12-year term. Current Justice Brent Benjamin is seeking reelection–claiming his record shows his decisions have been fair. Morgantown attorney Beth Walker, close before, is backed by business interests. Former justice and five-term state Attorney General Darrell McGraw has the name recognition. Beckley attorney Bill Wooten served multiple terms in the state legislature and Clay County resident Wayne King has made his positions known.
The West Virginia Board of Public Works includes a challenged race in the Secretary of State’s Office where incumbent Democrat Natalie Tennant is being challenged by Del. Patsy Trecost (D-Harrison). The race for state Auditor is wide open with the retirement of longtime officerholder Glen Gainer. Former Tomblin administration candidate Jason Pizatella has received the most attention among Democratic candidates. Del. J.B. McCuskey (R-Kanawha) will advance to the November vote. He’s unopposed today. There will also be contested races for state Treasurer, Attorney General and state Agriculture Commissioner in the November election.
Seventeen of the 34 seats in the state Senate are on today’s ballot. Several senators have decided not to seek reelection including Kessler, Sen. Herb Snyder (D-Jefferson) and Sen. Bill Laird (D-Fayette). A handful of delegates are seeking party nominations today in hopes of winning Senate seats in the fall.
All 100 seats in the House of Delegates are up for grabs. There are challenged races on the Democratic and Republican ballots. Eleven Democrats are seeking three nominations in the 32nd Delegate District representing Fayette County.
There are also hundreds of county-level races for positions like county commission, prosecutor, assessor, county clerk, circuit clerk, circuit judge, magistrate. There are a few mayoral elections on today’s ballot as well.
Biafore pointed out that once the primary is over, everyone is back on the same team in terms of their party allegiance.
“The great thing about it is after tomorrow, everybody is going to come together and at that point it will be a little bit easier, because we’ll be able to work together.”
As returns come in on Tuesday, the MetroNews Radio Network will have comprehensive coverage of the results of all the state’s races. Polls open at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday morning and close at 7:30 p.m.