West Virginia Primary Election Wrap-up

By Scott Cosco, May 9, 2018





It’s gonna be one crazy campaign season in the Mountain State
As the dust settles around the 2018 primary election, West Virginia will be saying good-bye to a few incumbents while bracing for what comes next. Prepare yourselves for what can only be considered a “cage match” for a seat in the United States Senate.


As expected, incumbent U.S. Senator Joe Manchin cruised to victory over Paula Jean Swearengin garnering 70-percent of the democratic vote. On the republican side, the brouhaha between current Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, US Congressman Even Jenkins, and Coal Operator Don Blankenship went to Morrisey. After being declared the winner last night Morrisey wasted no time attacking Manchin.


This race will be in the national spotlight up to Election Day in November. It’s expected to be one of the most expensive races in the nation, and we should consider a campaign contribution strategy in this one, as well as other legislative races.


In the U.S. House of Representatives races: 


District 1

(I) David McKinley will face WVU Law Professor Kendra Fershee


District 2

(I) Alex Mooney vs Tally Seargent

Mooney is seeking his 3rd term while Seargent is best known for being a member of Hillary Clinton’s election team in 2016


District 3

(R) Carol Miller vs (D) Richard Ojeda

Miller is a House of Delegates member, and Ojeda is a State Senator. This is the seat vacated by Evan Jenkins, and is one that could potentially disappear during the next round of redistricting due to population losses in West Virginia. Miller lives in Huntington and Ojeda in Logan. Ojeda’s popularity grew to rock star status during the teachers strike as he gained national popularity for his direct speak and support of teachers and medical cannabis.


West Virginia State Senate:


There were several surprises in the West Virgnia Legislature. The biggest has to be House of Delegate member, and moderate republican Bill Hamilton defeating ultra conservative incumbent Senator Robert Karnes.


Karnes, who has made several brash statements about teachers and labor unions on the senate floor lost his bid for re-election to longtime Delegate Hamilton by more than 20-percent of the vote.


Many feel this race was a focal point for teachers and labor unions. Hamilton has perpetually been a moderate delegate many times siding with labor on many issues. Karnes, who was first elected in 2014 has been considered by many as a controversial Senator who pushed many tea party type issues.


Two other incumbent Senators won’t be returning next year, Senator Mark Drennan R-Putnam, and Lynne Arvon R-Raleigh, both lost their races last night setting up two of the more interesting state senate races in the fall.


Drennan, was appointed by West Virginia Governor Jim Justice to fill the vacancy left when Senator Mike Hall resigned to take the Chief of State position with the Governor. Arvon was a Delegate who moved over to the senate after the resignation of Jeff Mullins prior to the 2018 Legislative Session.


When it comes to the state senate there will be several interesting races in the fall to keep an eye on as election day approaches.


District 1 (Hancock, Brooke, Ohio, Marshall Counties)

(I) Ryan Ferns vs (D) William Ihlenfeld

Ferns is Senate Majority Leader. Ilhenfeld is former US Attorney in West Virginia.


District 4 (Putnam, Jackson, Mason)

(R) Eric Tarr vs (D) Brian Primm

This race will fill the previously mentioned seat held by Drennan. Tarr is a Putnam County businessman who volunteers as an adviser in the West Virginia Senate. Primm is an attorney in Hurricane who in 2016 came within 500 votes of beating Senate President Mitch Carmichael in a hotly contested race.


District 8 (Kanawha, Putnam)

(I) Ed Gaunch vs (D) Richard Lindsay

Gaunch who is running for his first re-election faces Lindsay who is both a physician and attorney in Charleston.


District 9 (Raleigh, Wyoming, McDowell)

(R) Rollan Roberts vs (D) Bill Wooten

Roberts is a minister. Wooten, a former State Senator, and attorney.


District 10 (Fayette, Summers, Greenbrier, Monroe)

(I) Stephen Baldwin vs (R) Boogie Ambler

This is the race of former delegates. Baldwin started in the House before being appointed to the Senate by Governor Justice to fill the vacancy left by Ron Miller who resigned to join the Governor’s staff. Ambler, decide to forgo reelection in the House for a chance to beat Baldwin and become a Senator.


District 13 (Marion, Monongalia)

(I) Robert Beach vs (R) Mike Oliverio

Those of you who know West Virginia politics may be confused but don’t be. Beach is a democrat, while former Senator Oliverio used to be. He switched his party affiliation to republican in an attempt to challenge Beach in the general.


District 16 (Berkeley, Jefferson)

(I) John Unger vs (R) Mike Folk

This will definitely be a race that many will be watching closely. Unger, a long serving Senator and former Majority Leader will square off against Delegate Folk who is gunning to become Senator Folk. Folk, is a member of the House’s Liberty Caucus, and is well known for his brash and opinionated views


District 17 (Kanawha)

(I) Tom Takubo vs (D) Terrell Ellis

Takubo is Chair of the Senate’s Health Committee, while Ellis is a Consultant in Charleston.


West Virginia House of Delegates:


With over 20 current members not seeking reelection, we will see a number of new faces in the House of Delegates come January. There were only two upsets in the House worth noting.


In the 43rd district, democrat incumbent Phil Isner lost his bid as did newly appointed Raleigh County Delegate Chanda Adkins, who serves the 31st. Isner is just completing his first full term while Adkins was appointed to the House of Delegates by Governor Justice back in January to replace the aforementioned Lynne Arvon.


If you should have any questions or wish to discuss any of these races please feel free to contact us We are happy to provide additional information of perspective.