2012 elections preview: West Virginia voters to select winners in congressional, legislative primaries

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May 7, 2012

By Ballotpedia's Congressional and State legislative teams

The fast-moving primary season of May and June begins tomorrow with elections in Indiana, North Carolina, and West Virginia. Both Indiana and West Virginia have a U.S. Senate seat up for election in 2012. All three states will elect representatives to the U.S. House. On the state level, both state Senate and state House seats are on the ballot in all three states.

Contested Primaries in West Virginia -- May 8, 2012
U.S. House
(3 seats)
State Legislature
(117 seats)
Total Democratic Contested Primaries 1 (33.3%) 34 (29.1%)
Total Republican Contested Primaries 2 (66.7%) 14 (11.9%)

In North Carolina, voters will also select party nominees for president and state governor, as well as take up a proposed amendment to the state constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman. Turnout is expected to be high.[1]

In contrast, early voting numbers predict low turnout in West Virginia.[2] Indiana officials do not expect unusually high turnout for their primary.[3]

Ballotpedia will be previewing the elections in all three states. Here's the races of interest in West Virginia tomorrow, where polls will be open from 6:30am to 7:30pm ET.


U.S. Senate

Democratic incumbent Joe Manchin is challenged by energy industry businesswoman Sheirl Fletcher in the primary. Manchin, who was elected in a special election in 2010, has held the Senate seat for less than 18 months. Fletcher, who also ran in the special primary, is a former state legislator. She has criticized Manchin, saying he's not a "true Democrat." She pointed to Manchin's statement that he had yet to decide whether to vote for Barack Obama or Mitt Romney for president. Manchin responded that he is a "West Virginia Democrat, not a Washington Democrat."[4]

Republican mining industry businessman John Raese is unopposed in the primary.

U.S. House

See also: United States House of Representatives elections in West Virginia, 2012

West Virginia has three congressional districts, and neither party's primary is contested in the 1st District.

2nd District

See also: West Virginia's 2nd Congressional District elections, 2012

Republican incumbent Shelley Moore Capito faces opposition from Michael Davis and Jonathan Miller in the primary. Miller has given up his seat in the West Virginia House of Delegates in order to run, saying God told him to pursue this path. Davis, an artist, switched parties for this year's election. Capito's campaign platform includes debt reduction, repealing Obamacare, and fighting regulations that hurt jobs. Miller is concerned with changing the political culture, and Davis seeks to help the environment and the working class.[5]

Democrats Dugald Brown, William McCann, and Howard Swint duke it out as well.

3rd District

See also: West Virginia's 3rd Congressional District elections, 2012

Republican incumbent Nick Rahall is unopposed in the primary. On the Republican ballot, voters will choose between Lee Bias, Bill Lester, and Rick Snuffer. Snuffer is a member of West Virginia House of Delegates; he does not list a campaign platform on his website. Bias is a registered nurse and emergency response worker, whose focus includes balancing the budget, boosting domestic energy production, and bringing transportation projects to West Virginia. Lester is a lawyer, and his campaign platform includes reducing taxes, balancing the budget, and ending bailouts.

State legislature

See also: West Virginia State Senate elections, 2012 and West Virginia House of Delegates elections, 2012

There are 117 total legislative seats with elections in 2012 -- 17 Senate seats and 100 House seats.

There are 6 (17.1%) contested primaries in the Senate and 42 (21.0%) contested primaries in the House.

There are 34 (29.1%) contested Democratic primaries and 14 (11.9%) contested Republican primaries. Thus, there will be 48 (20.5%) races tomorrow with at least two candidates on the ballot. The 20.5% figure of contested primaries in West Virginia is lower than the current national contested average of 23.42% for states that have had filing deadlines.

While 117 state legislators are up for re-election, they have spent just $1.2 million among them on campaigning thus far.[6] Just six state senators are facing primary challenges. In the Senate, three lawmakers are not seeking re-election; on the House side, 13 are retiring or seeking other offices.

West Virginia State Senate
Party As of November 5, 2012 After the 2012 Election
     Democratic Party 28 24
     Republican Party 6 10
Total 34 34

West Virginia House of Delegates
Party As of November 5, 2012 After the 2012 Election
     Democratic Party 65 54
     Republican Party 35 46
Total 100 100


On August 2, 2011, acting-Governor Earl Ray Tomblin (D) signed the revised map for the state's House of Delegates districts. Republicans criticized the decision, arguing that Tomblin had failed to take the lead on creating 100 single-member districts. In addition, Brooke County officials have suggested that the bill contains lingering technical errors. Tomblin, however, defended the legislature's lead role in redistricting and noted that the technical flaws he had seen in the first map had been corrected.[7][8]

  • The revised map can be found here.

See also

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