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Three picked to potentially fill vacant Second District West Virginia Senate Seat

By JOSELYN KING

The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register

MOUNDSVILLE, W.Va.  — The names of three prospective candidates who could be the next member of the West Virginia Senate representing the 2nd District are on their way to Gov. Jim Justice.

A total of 12 candidates submitted letters of interest to fill out the unexpired term of former Sen. Kent Leonhardt, R-Monongalia, who resigned his seat just prior to being sworn in on Jan. 16 as West Virginia’s new commissioner of agriculture.

The committee selected the following three candidates, according to West Virginia Republican Party Chairman Conrad Lucas: Charles Clements of New Martinsville, executive director of the Route 2 and I-68 Authority; Virginia “Ginger” Nalley, who lost the 2016 primary for the 2nd District’s other seat; and Kent Pauley, a Morgantown-area contractor.

State code requires a 2nd District Senate Committee select three applicants from the same party as the senator vacating the seat, and submit their names to Justice for possible appointment.

Justice will have five days to make an appointment after officially receiving the names.

The names were to be delivered to him this morning, according to Lucas.

The 18-member committee convened Monday at the Doddridge County Library in West Union, W.Va. to meet with the 12 candidates.

The committee was comprised of a man and a woman from each of the nine counties that are partially or entirely within the 2nd District: Marshall, Wetzel, Tyler, Monongalia, Marion, Doddridge, Ritchie, Gilmer and Calhoun.

Marshall County Republican Party Chairman Brian Long said each candidate was asked the same 16 questions by the committee. These questions quizzed them on their knowledge of such issues as the natural gas industry and right-to-work legislation.

Each candidate also was evaluated on his or her political and business experience.

“There were seven I was wishing we could move forward, but all 12 were good candidates,”he said. “It’s just that some had more business or political experience, and were more electable. We were looking for the whole package. Yes, you could put a newcomer in, but it would be hard for them if they were just one among 34 senators, and they were not up on the issues.”

Lucas commended the committee members for their work. Their meeting began at 9 a.m., and did not conclude until after 5 p.m., he said.

“I’m excited about the quality of the candidates,” he said. “We’ve found a lot of folks who will be candidates for a lot of offices come 2018.”

West Virginia Code prohibits two senators from the same county from serving in the county, so no eligible candidate could be from Marshall County. Freshman Sen. Mike Maroney, also a Republican, is a resident of Glen Dale.

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