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Republicans stay strong in statehouse

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Democrats hoping to make inroads in the West Virginia state Legislature were held at bay, with Republicans maintaining a 63-37 majority the House and picking up four seats in the State Senate for a 22-12 advantage.

In the Senate, Republicans won two Northern Panhandle districts previously held by Democrats. Delegate Ryan Weld defeated incumbent Jack Yost in the 1st District, while Glen Dale doctor Mike Maroney, a political newcomer, took the seat held for nearly 20 years by Senate minority leader Jeff Kessler, who did not seek re-election after running for the gubernatorial nomination last spring.

Wood County Delegate Mike Azinger kept the 3rd District seat in Republican control, winning the unexpired term over Democrat Greg Smith.

In one of the night’s biggest races, Senate majority leader Mitch Carmichael (R-Jackson) withstood heavy union and trial lawyer opposition to defeat Democrat Brian Prim by 886 votes.

Democrats did flip the 8th District seat, when union contractor Glenn Jeffries defeated GOP incumbent Chris Walters by 2,400 votes.

Republicans won an open seat that has been held by Democrats in the 10th District when Monroe County funeral home director Kenny Mann defeated Democratic Delegate Dave Perry for the seat previously held by Democrat Bill Laird, who did not seek re-election.

Republicans picked up a seat in the 14th District, where Delegate Randy Smith (R-Preston) defeated Democratic incumbent Bob Williams.

In the 16th Senatorial District, Republican Patricia Rucker won the Eastern Panhandle seat over Delegate Stephen Skinner, in a seat previous previously held by Democrat Herb Snyder.

Other incumbents winning new four-year terms to the State Senate were – Corey Palumbo (D-Kanawha), Craig Blair (R-Berkeley), Roman Prezioso (D-Marion), Doug Facemire (D-Braxton), Greg Boso (R-Nicholas), Bob Plymale (D-Wayne) and Sue Cline (R-Wyoming). Other first-time winners were Chandler Swope (R-Mercer) and Richard Ojeda (D-Logan).

In the House, the deck reshuffled a bit, but in the end Republicans still outnumber Democrats by 28 seats. The Republicans took a seat in the normally Democratic-rich Mingo County, when Republican Mark Dean defeated Democratic incumbent Phyllis White in the 21st District. In the 25th Delegate District, Democratic incumbent Bucky Blackwell lost to Republican Tony Paynter.

Moore Capito, the son of U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore-Capito, led the ticket in the 35th Delegate District, the first political run for the young Republican. His cousin, Republican Riley Moore, won by 98 votes in the 67th Delegate District.

Former House judiciary chair Tim Manchin (D-Marion) finished out the running in the 50th Delegate District, as Republican Guy Ward winds up winning a seat in the three-member district.

The closest race of the night came in the 36th Delegate District, where Republican Brad White edged Nancy Guthrie by four votes.

The final make-up of the House was still uncertain Tuesday night, as about 5,000 early voting period ballots in Greenbrier County were not going to be tallied until Wednesday morning.

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