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W.Va. candidates file for Congress, state offices

January 30, 2012
The Associated Press

CHARLESTON (AP) - West Virginia's May 8 primary will feature contested races for governor, Supreme Court and the 2nd Congressional District, while most other statewide and federal candidates will run unopposed, after the filing period ended Saturday.

Nearly 290 people sought to add their names to the ballot between Jan. 9 and the midnight deadline for federal, statewide and legislative races. Nearly 30 of them visited the state Capitol on Saturday to deliver their paperwork to Secretary of State Natalie Tennant and her staff, who will accept mailed-in filings postmarked by midnight. Tennant will certify candidates for the primary on Feb. 14.

"There were actually some people who were waiting for us to open up the office today," said Jake Glance, a spokesman for Tennant. "There's been a steady stream of people."

Rep. Shelley Moore Capito drew another primary challenge, Republican Michael Davis of Elkins, in the 2nd Congressional District. Delegate Jonathan Miller of Berkeley County has also filed for the GOP nomination. The Democratic candidates are Howard Swint of Charleston, Dugald Brown of Martinsburg and Jefferson County's William McCann. Capito is seeking a seventh term.

Rep. Nick Rahall filed Saturday for a 19th term representing the 3rd District. Though he's unopposed in the Democratic primary, Republicans Lee Bias of Cabell County and Bill Lester of Raleigh County are vying to challenge him in the fall. Democrat Sue Thorn of Ohio County has filed in the 1st District, where freshman GOP Rep. David McKinley is unopposed in his party's primary.

The U.S. Supreme Court recently allowed West Virginia to rely on its new congressional redistricting plan for these U.S. House races, even though that map remains the subject of a federal court challenge.

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin won his seat while governor, in a 2010 special election following the death of Robert C. Byrd. With the seat now up for a six-year term, the Democratic primary will pit Manchin against former legislator Sheirl Fletcher. She also ran unsuccessfully for the seat in 2010.

Manchin beat Republican John Raese that year by 10 percentage points. A wealthy Morgantown industrialist, Raese has filed to run again as he seeks a rematch with Manchin.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin gained a Democratic primary challenger, Arne Moltis, on Saturday. Tomblin is running for a full term as governor after winning last year's special election, prompted by Manchin's Senate win. Moltis also ran in 2011, receiving less than 500 votes in the primary. Republican Bill Maloney is trying again, after losing to Tomblin in the special general election by less than 3 percentage points. He first must fend off Ralph William Clark, who also ran last year and attracted less than 2 percent of the GOP primary vote.

State Sen. Mike Hall filed for treasurer on Saturday. Another Putnam County Republican, assistant county prosecutor Steve Connolly, entered that race on Thursday. Treasurer John Perdue is unopposed in the Democratic primary. So is Attorney General Darrell McGraw, though Republican Pat Morrisey filed Saturday to challenge him in November. Morrisey, 44, filed six days after he was admitted to practice law in West Virginia, according to the State Bar's online directory. Morrisey is a partner at the Washington, D.C., law firm of King & Spalding and is a former GOP congressional aide and committee lawyer.

In the two-seat state Supreme Court race, the Democratic field grew Saturday with the filing by Louis Palmer. A veteran staff lawyer at the court, Palmer is running in a primary that also includes Justice Robin Davis, circuit Judges Jim Rowe of Greenbrier County and J.D. Beane of Wood County, and former State Bar President Tish Chafin. Jefferson County Circuit Judge John Yoder and Supreme Court law clerk Allen Loughry are seeking the Republican nods.

Tennant, the secretary of state, is unopposed in the Democratic primary. She would face freshman Delegate Brian Savilla, R-Putnam, in the general election. Auditor Glen Gainer is similarly assured a Democratic primary win, as is Republican challenger Larry Faircloth.

With Agriculture Commissioner Gus Douglass retiring, four fellow Democrats have filed to succeed him: agency officials Steve Miller, Bob Tabb and Joe Messineo, and Sen. Walt Helmick of Pocahontas County. The primary winner would take on Republican Mike Teets, who came close to winning the office in 2010.

At least one legislator has vowed to ensure any candidate for agriculture commissioner has made agriculture his chief business for at least the last 10 years, as state law requires.

All 100 seats in the House of Delegates are up for two-year terms, while half the 34-member Senate faces re-election to four year terms. More than 210 people filed for the House, in the 67 districts drawn to conform to population changes following the 2010 Census. The 17 Senate races, which also follow redistricting changes, have attracted 27 candidates. Democrats hold the majority in both chambers.

President Barack Obama has a Democratic primary challenger on the West Virginia ballot, Keith Russell Judd of Texas. Republican presidential contenders Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul and Rick Santorum have filed in the state's GOP primary.

Around 140 West Virginia Republicans also filed to become delegates to their party's national convention, including more than 40 on Saturday. Some 39 of the delegate candidates are pledged to Romney, while 25 are backing Paul. Another 24 are committed to Gingrich, one is supporting Santorum and 49 are undecided.


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Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.



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