WV Republicans Take Over House of Delegates, Make Senate Gains

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It was a good night to be the West Virginia Republican Party.

The GOP picked up all of the seats it needed to become the majority party in the West Virginia House of Delegates.

According to Conrad Lucas, West Virginia GOP chair, Republicans took the House of Delegates and got 17 seats in the state Senate.

Last Legislative session, the House was a 53/47 split – with the Democrats outweighing the Republicans. However, that split was the closest state Republicans have been to an advantage in 30 years.

Running campaigns on “83 is enough,” Republicans were noticeably excited about picking up the extra seats to regain the majority for the first time in 83 years.

Republican Saira Blair, 18, led her Democratic opponent, Layne Diehl, by 63 percent of the votes in Berkeley County. Jeff Becker, with the Constitutional Party, received 7 percent of the votes in that race.

Republicans also overtook incumbent Delegate Tiffany Lawrence, D-Jefferson.

Robert Rupp, political science professor at West Virginia Wesleyan, said the closest split between Republicans and Democrats in the House of Delegates he could find occurred in 1942 when the House was divided 50 to 44. The widest margin happened, Rupp said, both in 1964 and 1976 when the split was 91 Democrats and 9 Republicans.

Wood County elected some new faces to the House as well. The only incumbent running, Delegate Dan Poling, D-Wood, was kicked out by Republican Mike Azinger, and former Delegate Frank Deem, also a Republican, and John Kelly, who is a Republican Parkersburg City Councilman.

Delegate Josh Nelson, R-Boone, kept his seat in the House after some controversy for not being present during the session due to active military duty. Nelson squeezed out by 199 votes, receiving 50 percent. Nelson won 62 percent of the vote in the 2012 election.

The West Virginia Senate picked up some Republican seats as well.

The Senate has 16 seats, with the 17th resting in the 11th District on Sen. Gregory Tucker, D-Nicholas, who was, at last count, behind Republican Robert Karnes 56 to 44 percent. Having 17 seats would be an even split between parties.

Incumbent Sen. Rocky Fitzsimmons, D-Ohio, was beat by Delegate Ryan Ferns, R-Ohio, who switched parties to run against Fitzsimmons.

Democrat Mike Woelfel took over Sen. Evan Jenkins’ seat in Cabell County. Jenkins vacated the seat as a Republican after switching parties to run against U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., in the Third Congressional District.

Sen. Truman Chafin, D-Mingo, who was first elected to that seat in 1982, was defeated by Republican Mark Maynard by 488 votes – with 84 percent of precincts reporting.

Sen. Mike Green, D-Raleigh, was defeated by a Republican as well. Jeff Mullins beat Green, taking 57 percent of the vote.

Incumbent Sen. Bob Beach, D-Monongalia, kept his Democratic seat with 51 percent of the votes. Senate Majority Leader John Unger, D-Berkeley, led his opponent by 1,175 votes winning 53/47 percent of the votes.

Delegate Doug Skaff, D-Kanawha, ran for the Senate and lost against Republican candidate Tom Takubo – a doctor in Kanawha County.

Secretary of State Natalie Tennant’s husband, Sen. Erik Wells, D-Kanawha, was defeated by Republican candidate Ed Gaunch. Gaunch received 52 percent of the votes, while Wells received 44 percent.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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