First time Senate primary winners use different strategies

CHARLESTON, W.Va.¬†—¬†There are some political newcomers who have advanced to the November General Election in state Senate races including a 30-year pastor and a community and economic development professional.

Rollan Roberts

Dr. Rollan Roberts defeated Raleigh County Senator Lynne Arvon in Tuesday’s Republican primary in the 9th Senatorial District. Roberts is the longtime pastor at Victory Baptist Church in Beaver. He placed his name in the running when Gov. Jim Justice was looking for a quick replacement for now former Senator Jeff Mullins at the beginning of the last legislative session. Arvon was appointed. Roberts then decided to run against her.

He was successful Tuesday in the three counties that make up the district, Raleigh, Wyoming and McDowell counties. It was close. He won by less than 400 votes but Roberts said he didn’t have to fight name recognition problems.

“I’m a different kind of candidate. I’m not having to tell people who I am. I’ve been here for 30 years at Victory (Baptist Church), running the Christian school and our Christian school serves about four counties every year,” he said.

Terrell Ellis

Terrell Ellis, owner of Terrell Ellis and Associates, is a single mother of four grown children who has been active in Kanawha Valley communities for years but has never run for political office. She finished in first place in Tuesday’s Democratic primary in the 17th Senatorial District over two other candidates, including Mary Ann Claytor who won a statewide primary two years ago.

Ellis told MetroNews Wednesday her community involvement over the years was a good building block for her campaign.

“Being from South Hills (Charleston), which is a real strong neighborhood in the district, certainly was very helpful. But I’ve also worked a lot in the Clendenin area, I’m known in South Charleston for some of the economic development work I’m doing and I’m known in the Upper Kanawha Valley,” Ellis said.

Ellis also had a good ground game. She and her volunteers knocked on nearly 8,000 doors in the district.

Del. Bill Hamilton

Longtime Delegate Bill Hamilton won every county in the 11th Senatorial District GOP primary against incumbent Senator Robert Karnes. Karnes called the impact of the teachers strike a bump in the road, Hamilton said.

“I knew better because they were still active in my campaign and they will continue to do so in the fall,” Hamilton said Wednesday on MetroNews “Talkline.”

Hamilton said Karnes went negative two weeks before the election and it wasn’t received well.

“They tainted me as a liberal,” Hamilton said. “You know, if I was liberal I might have won Upshur County one time but the second time I ran they would have booted me out.”

Hamilton has a strong rating from both labor and business which he said gives him broad support. He’ll face Pocahontas County attorney Laura Finch, a Democrat, in the fall election.

Ellis considers herself a moderate Democrat.

“I happen to be pro-economic development, I’m pro-business,” she said. “I just happen to think you can do all of that without affecting working families.”

She’ll face 17th District Senator Tom Takubo, R-Kanawha, in the fall. Ellis said she’ll begin knocking on doors again in a few days.

Roberts’ fall opponent is former state senator, former delegate Bill Wooton, a Democrat from Raleigh County. Roberts said they know each other.

“We are really on different ends of the spectrum–so people will have a distinct choice to make when it comes to Nov. 6,” he said.

Seventeen of the Senate’s 34 seats will be up for election and there will be challenged races in each one.

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