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While Justice and Morrisey win Republican nominations, Blair’s loss means big changes ahead

West Virginia Press Association Staff Report

CHARLESTON, W.VA. — With Tuesday’s primary elections now in the books, West Virginia is guaranteed to have a significantly different political landscape to begin 2025. 

Gov. Jim Justice dominated Congressman Alex Mooney, more than doubling his vote count in the race to be the Republican nominee to succeed Joe Manchin in the United States Senate. Justice will go on to face the Democratic nominee, Wheeling Mayor Glenn Elliott, in November’s general election. Elliott scored a 7,000 vote victory over political outsider Zach Shrewsbury. And, only capturing 18% of the Democratic vote, Don Blankenship’s party changing theatrics proved to be a non-factor. 

In a fairly competitive race for the 1st Congressional District of the United States House of Representatives, Democrat Chris Bob Reed bested challenger James Umberger by less than 5,000 votes. Reed will now challenge incumbent Congresswoman Carol Miller, who handily defeated former Delegate Derrick Evans by more than 22,000 votes. 

In the 2nd Congressional District, State Treasurer Riley Moore took 44% in a five-way race to become the Republican nominee, setting him up to take on unopposed Democrat Steven Wendelin in a contest to succeed outgoing Congressman Alex Mooney. And in the hotly contested race to be West Virginia’s next chief executive, the polling proved correct as Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s 33% was enough to make him the Republican choice to challenge the unopposed Democratic nominee, Huntington Mayor Steve Williams. 

Kris Warner is the Republican’s choice to replace his brother, Mac Warner, as West Virginia’s next Secretary of State. His 86,611 votes were more than sufficient to better the 37,776 collected by former Democratic House Minority Leader and new Republican Doug Skaff. Warner will meet yet another unopposed Democrat this November in the form of Thornton Cooper. 

With victories in their respective primaries, Democrat Teresa Toriseva and Republican J.B. McCuskey will square off to succeed new gubernatorial nominee Patrick Morrisey as Attorney General, while the unopposed Democrat Mary Ann Roebuck Claytor will take on Republican State Senator Mark Hunt to replace McCuskey in the Auditor’s office. 

Short of a strong write-in candidate making their presence felt over the next several months, former Delegate and current Acting Revenue Secretary Larry Pack is poised to become the state’s next Treasurer. And in the state’s final Constitutional Office, incumbent Republican Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt defeated former Delegate Joshua Higginbotham, and will now be challenged by Democrat Deborah Stiles. 

Tuesday also saw several Republican State Senators being primaried out of their seats. Sen. Mike Maroney of Marshall County lost to challenger Chris Rose by some 2,800 votes, while Sen. Chandler Swope of Mercer County lost a tight race to Craig Hart by less than 500 votes. And in District 11, which encompasses Randolph County, Sen. Robert Karnes was ousted by challenger Robbie Morris by more than 4,400 votes. 

However the senatorial race with the most significant implications was the one run in District 15 – Berkeley County. While Senate President Craig Blair, who also serves as West Virginia’s Lieutenant Governor, was successful in defeating one of his primary opponents, he was not able to defeat them both. With 44% of the vote, Tom Willis secured the Republican nomination, and in doing so, guaranteed that West Virginia will have both a new Senate President and a new Lieutenant Governor come January.  

In House races, Republican incumbent Diana Winzenreid of Ohio County was defeated by Bill Flanigan, while former Delegate Ray Canterbury won a three-way contest to replace Freedom Caucus member Del. Todd Longanacre in Greenbrier County. Longanacre did not seek re-election to a third term. Longanacre’s Republican colleague to the north, Del. Heather Tully of Nicholas County, did, however, seek re-election, but was defeated by challenger Stanley Adkins. 

In the State’s nonpartisan races, Justice Haley Bunn will be returning to West Virginia’s Supreme Court of Appeals, while Sen. Charles Trump will be joining her on the court for the first time. And with 59% of the vote, Ryan White defeated Elgine McArdle and Mychal Schulz to Division 1 of the Intermediate Court of Appeals. 

General Election Day in West Virginia is Tuesday, November 5. 

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