CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Several House of Delegates races from Tuesday’s primary election won’t be final until next week’s canvassing because what are now razor thin leads.
The top vote getter in three delegate districts, District 28, District 36 and District 88, currently have leads of one vote each.
District 28, which is made up of 15 precincts in Wayne County, currently has Wayne High School retired teacher Mark Ross with that narrow margin over current Delegate Josh Booth (688-687).
Ross said he was leading all night long Tuesday until the final precinct arrived and Booth cut his lead to single vote.
Vote canvassing is set for Monday in Wayne County. The county commission will go over provisional ballots and possibly some absentee ballots. Ross said he realizes his lead is by the thinnest of margins but he’s confident.
“I’ve felt good about it all along because people were upset. It goes to show as we’ve said before, that vote (one vote) makes a difference,” Ross said.
Ross was one of the names a Wayne County GOP executive committee voted after the 2020 General Election to send to Gov. Jim Justice for possible appointment to the seat that opened up after former Del. Derek Evans was charged in connection with the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot. Evans resigned his newly elected House seat before taking office. The state party stepped in to add Booth’s name to the list given to Gov. Justice and he chose Booth. Ross said some voters are still upset with how the situation unfolded.
Ross said he wants to win but he can live with the results the vote canvass will produce.
“I know that win, lose or draw that my hope is in Jesus and if it’s his will that I be there that’s the way it will turn out,” he said.
The final winner in the GOP primary will win the 28th District seat. There’s not a Democrat on the ballot for the general election.
Too close to call in the 88th
The 88th Delegate District is a new district created by redistricting which takes in most of the unincorporated areas of Hampshire and Mineral counties between Keyser and Romney.
After the votes were counted in Tuesday night’s GOP primary, retired submarine qualified, US Navy Engineering Duty Officer Rick Hillenbrand held a one vote lead over Keith Funkhouser (793-792). Two other Republican candidates finished out of the running.
Hillenbrand, who is making is first run for political office, said he’s thankful to be ahead but now it’s a waiting game.
“We won’t know for certain until some time next week (after the canvass) and hopefully then,” he said.
Hillenbrand also said he would have peace with the final outcome but added he would do all he could to win.
“We’ll follow that process (canvassing) to see where it leads. You certainly can’t predict it. I’m cautiously optimistic,” he said.
Because the 88th covers parts of two counties, Hillenbrand and Funkhouser will have to wait for canvassing efforts to be completed in both Hampshire and Mineral counties.
There’s also no Democrat candidate in the 88th District so the winner between Hillenbrand and Funkhouser will take the seat in next year’s legislature.
The GOP race in the 36th Delegate District which is made up of 37 precincts in McDowell County had Tom Acosta with a 242 to 241 lead over Anita Hall. The winner gets Delegate Ed Evans, D-McDowell, in the general election.
Many close results Tuesday
The new single-member districts produced several other close races.
In the Wood County-based 11th District, Bob Fehrenbacher defeated incumbent Del. Roger Conley, R-Wood, by 8 votes.
Candidate Dave Foggin defeated incumbent Del. D. Shannon Kimes by 31 votes in the14th District Republican primary that has precincts in Wood and Wirt counties.
In the Democratic primary, Seth King beat Josh Martin by 10 votes in the Putnam County 19th District.
The 43rd Delegate District in Raleigh County also produced a close result with incumbent Del. Chris Toney edging challenger Kase Poling by 29 votes.
There were also less than 20 votes separating the top two candidates in the 86th race on the Democratic ballot, the Republican race in the 76th District and the Democratic primary in the 70th Delegate District in Harrison County.