WV 2018 Election Results At A Glance

Despite U.S. Senator Joe Manchin’s victory over state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, the purported “blue wave” turned out to be a “blue trickle.” Republicans maintained control of all 3 Congressional seats, including a win by Carol Miller over State Senator Richard Ojeda in the open Third Congressional District. Legislative results mirrored those of the Congressional races.

Republicans widely prevailed in West Virginia legislative races with the all precincts reporting this morning. Unofficial results from the Secretary of State’s office show the State Senate political composition will be 20 Republicans and 14 Democrats (down from current make up of 22 Republican and 12 Democrat)  The House of Delegates will have 59 Republicans and 41 Democrats (currently 64 Republican and 36 Democrat).

The teachers’ nine day strike during the past regular legislative session motivated union and trial lawyer groups to make substantial independent expenditures in an attempt to flip the legislature to Democrat. Unconfirmed reports indicate they spent north of $3 million in their efforts, far outspending GOP backed independent expenditure groups.  Manchin advisor and former Democrat State Party Chairman Larry Puccio was heavily involved in one of the Democrat independent expenditure efforts (Mountain Values PAC).

Notable Losses
A. West Virginia State Senate – Incumbent Senate Majority Leader Ryan Ferns was defeated by Wheeling labor/trial lawyer-backed attorney, William Ihlenfeld. Incumbent Senate Government Organization Committee Chairman Ed Gaunch was defeated by Charleston trial lawyer Richard Lindsay.

B. West Virginia House of Delegates – Republican Delegate Riley Moore lost to former Delegate John Doyle in the Eastern Panhandle. Delegate Jill Upson also lost her re-election bid in the Eastern Panhandle. Other Republican incumbents losing include Delegates Mark Zatezelo, Cindy Frich, Joe Statler, Guy Ward, and Charlotte Lane. Democrat Delegate Ricky Moye also lost.

Leadership in the House of Delegates (former House Speaker Tim Armstead won a seat on the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia as did former Congressman Evan Jenkins) will be challenged to manage its affairs with 26 new faces. That extraordinary number of new members is due to retirements, some Delegates trying to move up the political ladder, and some incumbent losses.

With a solid conservative Republican majority in both houses, expect next year’s regular session to be similar to recent sessions in that legislative efforts will be broadly focused on tort reform, deregulatory initiatives, and possibly tax reform. Governor Jim Justice was actively involved in the effort to maintain the Republican legislative majority so his proposals will be given serious consideration. Stated differently, Governor Justice has stepped up to help the Republican party. Governor Justice has already announced his advancement of proposals to give teachers yet another 5% pay raise and fully fund the state’s health insurance program using improved revenue collections with no tax increases. With West Virginia’s economy rebounding and state revenues far exceeding expectations, any talk of tax increases for next year should be minimal.
Should you have any questions regarding how the election affects you, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Best regards,
Will Swann
Kay Casto & Chaney, PLLC

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