GOP gubernatorial candidates put on final push as May 14 draws near

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — After months of debate, messaging, and a bombardment of ads on radio and television, the GOP race for gubernatorial nomination will be determined next Tuesday.

Patrick Morrisey

Polling has shown a competitive primary election race among four candidates with significant track records.

The most recent MetroNews West Virginia Poll of 400 likely voters by Research America shows three-term Attorney General Patrick Morrisey leading with 32 percent.

Next in the race are businessman Chris Miller with 25 percent and former House Judiciary Chairman Moore Capito at 24 percent. Secretary of State Mac Warner follows at 10 percent.

Morrisey has countered attacks from his opponents about his New Jersey upbringing and early career as a lobbyist in Washington, D.C., by focusing on the right to life and preservation of the state law mandating single-sex participation in interscholastic athletic events, which Morrisey has called the most important battle he waged as the state’s top attorney.

Moore Capito

If elected on day one, Morrisey said he would begin a top-to-bottom review of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources. Increasing transparency in cases involving child protective services and the needs of the more than 6,000 children in the state foster care system are priorities.

“I want to look for more ways to incentivize people to take these kids home and to make sure they’re in the right place,” Morrisey said. “Look at the overall system financially, how we’re paying for this, and the various forms of adoption tax credits. I think that’s the type of overall approach I support.”

Moore Capito, son of U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito, grandson of former governor Arch Moore, former delegate, and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has been criticized for his deep political roots. Capito has the endorsement of current Governor Jim Justice and has called himself a “get it done conservative,” pointing to work on education choices and tax cuts.

Chris Miller

“We’ve delivered the most conservation agenda in the history of the state of West Virginia,” Capito said. “And take the ability to bring people together to build consensus in order to get things across the line, and I’ve shown the ability to do that time and time again.”

Businessman Chris Miller has called himself a political outsider who wants to maximize our land, location, and access to natural resources. His mother is incumbent Congresswoman Carol Miller, R-W.Va., and his grandfather was Samuel Devine, a longtime Republican congressman from Ohio.

Business experience, Miller contends, will position the state to reverse the decades-long trend of population loss, increasing the tax base to offset the rising cost of subsidized health care.

Mac Warner

“We need to create an economy that thrives. The free market and the incentive mechanism for everyone are what do that,” Miller said. “We grow the population, and it fixes everything — it fixes worker’s compensation modifiers, it fixes health care costs, it fixes funding for the West Virginia Department of Highways, it fixes everything.”

Two-term Secretary of State Mac Warner has said education will be a major priority. Instead of touting record budget surpluses, Warner wants to use some of those proceeds to solve problems in education. Focusing on retaining certified teachers, recruiting additional certified educators, and implementing locality pay policies. He said those steps will help recruitment by signaling to those outside the state that we are serious about education.

“When you solve the education situation, it solves a lot of other problems,” Warner said. “It prepares the workforce for the jobs that are open now in the state; it gives people a chance to fight the opioid crisis and a chance to learn about obesity and those sorts of challenges.”

Huntington Mayor Steve Williams is the lone Democrat on the ballot and will face the Republican winner of next week’s race.

Primary election day is Tuesday, May 14. The early voting period for the primary election started last week and ends on Saturday, May 11.

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