MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The 2016 gubernatorial primary includes a state senator who represents half of Monongalia and Marion counties.
Sen. Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall, is vying against billionaire coal magnate, farmer and The Greenbrier resort owner Jim Justice, and former U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin for the Democratic nomination.
The winner will face Republican Senate President Bill Cole, of Bluefield. Cole owns car dealerships in West Virginia and Kentucky.
Current Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin is completing his second consecutive term in office and can’t run again.
Kessler served as Senate president after his predecessor, Tomblin, ascended to the governor’s office. He became minority leader when the GOP took over the Senate after the 2014 election and Cole succeeded him as president.
Here are the candidates’ campaign finance reports for the first of six 2016 reporting periods: The Primary-First period through March 25, due by April 1. The next set, Pre-Primary, covers March 26 through April 24 and is due April 29. The primary election is May 10.
Kessler previously made an unsuccessful bid for governor in a 2011 six-person special primary race that led to Tomblin’s election. His Senate district includes western and northern Mon and western Marion, along with all of four counties and parts of two others.
Kessler brought in $60,359.15 from his 2014 campaign account and transferred $77,280.51 from his 2012 account. He raised $55,409 in individual contributions and held fundraisers in Wheeling in Charleston that garnered another $26,325.
That put his total war chest at $213,373.66.
Kessler spent $140,133.38, leaving a balance of $73,240.28.
Goodwin’s war chest for the period was slightly larger than Kessler’s, at $281,856.
Goodwin raised $155,696 in individual contributions. Among his donors are former Gov. and Rep. Bob Wise and former U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, who gave $1,000 each.
Goodwin also held fundraisers in Charleston, Lewisburg, Huntington, Morgantown and Bridgeport that earned $126,160. He reported $4,370.20 in in-kind gifts.
Goodwin spent a little less than Kessler, at $130,829.93. He ended the period with a balance of $151,026.07.
Justice raised and spent more than his two opponents combined.
Justice reported $39,279.16 in individual contributions. He scored a total $435,315 at fundraisers held in Glenville, Delbarton, Morgantown, Beckley, Huntington, Bridgeport, White Sulphur Springs and Charleston.
Among the donors at these were Sen. Joe Manchin’s leadership PAC (a PAC created by a politician to donate to other politicians) Country Roads and basketball legend Jerry West, giving $1,000 each.
Justice also made four loans to himself, totaling $1,949,603. He reported $569.20 in bank interest and $106,448.95 in-kind. And he received a $1,000 transfer from the account of a retiring state delegate.
Justice spent a total $1,257,986.70, leaving a balance of $1,167,779.66.
Cole comes closest to Justice in fundraising and spending.
Cole transferred $10,109.59 from his Senate account. He raised $137,207.51 in individual contributions. His biggest donor was himself, at $50,000.
Cole raised $868,984 at fundraisers held in Huntington, Bluefield, Charleston, Charles Town, Wheeling, Columbus, Ohio, White Sulphur Springs, Bridgeport, Scott Depot, Pittsburgh, Vienna, Beckley, Barboursville, Clarksburg, Atlanta, Ga., Summersville, Benwood and Chapmanville.
Among the donors at these were various GOP legislative leaders and former gubernatorial candidate Bill Maloney, at $1,000 each.
His total war chest was $1,016,337.33.
Cole reported $36.23 in bank interest and $44,276.07 in-kind.
Cole spent $467,312.42 and listed $15,626.31 in unpaid bills. That included a $280 anonymous donation dropped off at the secretary of state’s office and turned over to the state treasury.
He ended the period with a balance of $549,024.90.