Candidates pack the ballot for West Virginia’s primary


By John Raby - Associated Press



CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — While the presidential primaries may grab national headlines on June 9, there are many other races to be decided, including those where candidates have more of a challenge trying to earn their party’s nominations. Here is a summary of those offices:

GOVERNOR

Incumbent Gov. Jim Justice is trying to secure the Republican nomination against six others, including his former commerce secretary, Woody Thrasher, and ex-state delegate Mike Folk. The other GOP candidates are retired real estate agent Shelby Jean Fitzhugh, real estate and insurance agent Brooke Lunsford, retired Division of Highways administrator Charles Sheedy and farmer Doug Six.

Kanawha County commissioner Ben Salango, state Sen. Ron Stollings and community organizer Stephen Smith highlight the five candidates on the Democratic side. Also running are retired environmental regulatory permit writer Douglas Hughes and FedEx courier Jody Murphy.

SUPREME COURT

The primary serves as the general election for the state Supreme Court, whose races became nonpartisan in 2016. This year’s election will determine a majority of the five-member court. There are 10 candidates for three races.

One race pits incumbent Justice Tim Armstead against 78-year-old former Justice Richard Neely and circuit judge David Hummel. Armstead, a former Republican House speaker, is completing the 12-year term of convicted former Justice Menis Ketchum.

Justice Margaret Workman is not seeking re-election. Four candidates are hoping to fill her seat for a new 12-year term: Circuit judge Joanna Tabit, family court judge Jim Douglas, assistant prosecutor Kris Raynes and attorney Bill Wooton.

Justice John Hutchison was appointed in 2018 to the seat vacated by convicted former Justice Allen Loughry. Next Tuesday’s special election is for the remainder of Loughry’s term through 2024. Hutchison will face circuit judge Lora Dyer and attorney William Schwartz.

U.S. SENATE

Republican Shelley Moore Capito is seeking her second six-year term in the U.S. Senate. She has two primary challengers: Family Policy Council of West Virginia President Allen Whitt and former craftsman Larry Butcher.

Capito served seven terms in the U.S. House before becoming the state’s first female elected to the Senate in 2014.

The Democratic nomination is being sought by former state Sen. Richard Ojeda, former South Charleston Mayor Richie Robb and Paula Jean Swearengin, a progressive Democrat from a coal-mining family.

U.S. HOUSE

This could be the last race as an incumbent for one of the state’s U.S. House members. Analysts have projected West Virginia will lose one of its congressional seats after the 2020 census. The state has lost population for seven straight years.

All three incumbents are Republicans and are seeking re-election. First District Rep. David McKinley has no primary opposition. Second District Rep. Alex Mooney faces physician Matthew Hahn, while Miller will take on Russell Siegel of Lewisburg.

The Democratic candidates include attorney Tom Payne and software company employee Natalie Cline in the 1st District. Energy analyst Cathy Kunkel is unopposed in the 2nd District. The 3rd District candidates are Huntington bus service CEO Paul Davis, labor union executive Jeff Lewis, Hillary Turner of Huntington and doctoral student Lacy Watson.

ATTORNEY GENERAL

Republican Patrick Morrisey, seeking a third term, has no primary opposition. In November, he will face the winner of the Democratic primary between state Delegate Isaac Sponaugle and attorney Sam Petsonk.

AGRICULTURE COMMISSIONER

Republican incumbent Kent Leonhardt is seeking his second term and will face farmer Roy Ramey next Tuesday. The Democrats in the race are state Sen. Bob Beach, farmer J.R. Keplinger and Dave Miller, a former deputy agriculture commissioner.

LEGISLATURE

Half of the 34 state Senate seats are up for grabs. Seven incumbents have primary opposition. Four senators, including three Democrats, are not seeking re-election. Republicans hold a 20-14 majority.

All 100 House seats are on the ballot; 41 incumbents are in contested races. Twenty delegates are not seeking re-election. Republicans hold a 58-41 House majority with one independent.

ABSENTEE VOTING

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, all state registered voters were deemed eligible to submit an absentee ballot, which must be postmarked by the June 9 primary date.

ON TO NOVEMBER

Republican Secretary of State Mac Warner is running unopposed and will face Democrat Natalie Tennant on Nov. 3. Tennant, also unopposed, served two terms as secretary of state before losing to Warner in 2016.

West Virginia’s longest-serving state treasurer, John Perdue, is unopposed in the Democratic primary and is seeking his seventh term in the fall. In November he will face Republican Riley Moore, a former delegate.

Republican incumbent JB McCuskey and Democratic challenger Mary Ann Claytor will square off in the November race for state auditor. Each is unopposed in the primary. Claytor is a former auditor’s office employee who lost to McCuskey in 2016.

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By John Raby

Associated Press