West Virginia’s Senate has approved a new congressional map that would divide the state in two districts along a north-south line.
If that map passes both chambers of the Legislature, it could result in a 2022 Republican primary matchup between incumbents David McKinley of Wheeling and Alex Mooney of Charles Town. The other incumbent, Carol Miller of Huntington, would be on her own in the southern district.
West Virginia is in this position because population loss has meant that the state must move from three congressional districts to two.
With little discussion today, the Senate voted in favor of the new map 30-2. Only senators Robert Karnes, R-Randolph, and Mike Caputo, D-Marion, voted against the map. Senators Eric Nelson and Patrick Martin were absent.
The map by senators adopted today now aligns with one moving in the House of Delegates, so there appears to be emerging agreement among lawmakers.
There was already near agreement between the chambers. The only differences in the maps previously moving in each chamber were the treatment of Ritchie and Pendleton counties.
Now both chambers have Pendleton in the southern district and Ritchie in the northern district.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Trump, R-Morgan, said the newly-adopted map has a better population deviation — meaning there’s minimal difference between the districts — than the earlier version.
“It provides for a much lower population deviation,” he said.
West Virginia’s unique shape makes establishing compact districts hard to impossible, Trump said. But he endorsed the map as coming as close as possible.
“Compactness is quite a challenge when you’re trying to draw any kind of district. The two West Virginia panhandles render the state uncompact,” he said.
“I believe this bill meets the constitutional requirements of both the United States constitution and the West Virginia constitution. I think it’s a good map.”
The House of Delegates today had the bill reflecting a proposed congressional map on the second of three readings.
Each chamber is also working on maps to update House and Senate districts.
Delegates passed a bill that would establish new House districts earlier today. Senators laid over a proposal for new Senate districts for one more day. That bill is up for passage but still may be amended.