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Political Analysis: West Virginia Democrats Continue Trend of Hemorrhaging Voters, Elected Officials

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CHARLESTON, WV – There doesn’t seem to be much positive news coming out of the West Virginia Democrat Party these days.

A party that long dominated state politics, has gone from being the super-majority to majority to minority to super-minority in a quick time span.

Democrats lost control of the House of Delegates for the first time in more than 80 years in 2014. The party also lost control of the State Senate that year. The following election cycles of 2016, 2018, 2020 and 2022, saw Democrats lose more seats.

Entering the 2024 legislative session, the party is down to only (11) members out of the 100-seat House of Delegates and (3) members out of the 34-seat State Senate.

Election losses are not the only problem. The party faces an increasing issue with voter registration.

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In 2021, Democrats in West Virginia lost the voter registration war.

Each month, the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office releases its latest voter registration numbers. As of the end of October, Democrat voters are the majority in only (18) of West Virginia’s (55) counties. Those counties (Democrat registration advantage) are as follows:

Boone (+1924), Braxton (+645), Brooke (+269), Clay (+172), Fayette (+972), Gilmer (+279), Kanawha (+2164), Lincoln (+626), Logan (+4527), Marion (+2387), McDowell (+3004), Mingo (+3343), Monongalia (+2557), Randolph (+31), Summers (+330), Webster (+559), Wetzel (+314) and Wyoming (+181).

As evidenced by the above numbers, Democrat’s hold razor thin margins in the counties highlighted in bold and face the very real possibility of losing their voter registration majorities in those counties very soon.

While non-affiliated voters are on the rise, the GOP holds a significant advantage in (37) of the state’s (55) counties. Those counties are as follows:

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Barbour, Berkeley, Cabell, Calhoun, Doddridge, Grant, Greenbrier, Hampshire, Hancock, Hardy, Harrison, Jackson, Jefferson, Lewis, Marshall, Mason, Mercer, Mineral, Monroe, Morgan, Nicholas, Ohio, Pendleton, Pleasants, Pocahontas, Preston, Putnam, Raleigh, Ritchie, Roane, Taylor, Tucker, Tyler, Upshur, Wayne, Wirt, and Wood.

To make matters worse, Democrats do not control any state-level statewide offices and their lone federally elected official is now flirting with leaving the party.

If Manchin jumps ship, the state party’s “brand” will be dealt another blow, especially with a presidential election year rapidly approaching.

And this year has seen a continuing trend of elected Democrats switching to the GOP, with the most recent being former House of Delegates Minority Leader Doug Skaff.

Candidate recruitment has been another issue that has plagued the state party in recent years.

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The party has not fielded a full ballot in the last four election cycles. As of last week, only (23) Democrats have filed pre-candidacy papers for the 2024 election, compared to (123) Republicans.

WVCEO will continue to monitor and analyze the state’s political landscape and its impact on the issues that we cover.

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Politics

Gov. Justice Appoints Jeffrey Stephens to fill Sixth District seat in House of Delegates

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Jeffrey Stephens

CHARLESTON, WV — Gov. Jim Justice announced Thursday he has appointed Jeffrey R. Stephens to the West Virginia House of Delegates Sixth District, which serves Marshall County. Stephens replaces Charlie Reynolds, who resigned earlier this month.

A John Marshall High School and West Liberty University graduate, Stephens is an educator with the Marshall County Schools system, teaching West Virginia Studies and serving as the athletic director at Sherrard Middle School.

Stephens also has coaching experience, having been the assistant girls’ basketball coach at John Marshall from 2010 to 2014, Sherrard girls basketball coach from 2014 to 2022, and Sherrard football coach from 2010 to 2022.

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Huntington Mayor Williams Files Pre-Candidacy for Governor

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City of Huntington

The Herald-Dispatch

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Huntington Mayor Steve Williams took another step Thursday in his announced plan to run for governor by filing his pre-candidacy papers with the West Virginia Secretary of State’s office.

Williams is the only Democrat in that race so far. Cecil Silva of the Lincoln County community of Spurlockville filed pre-candidacy papers in April, but the secretary of state’s office lists his candidacy as terminated. The secretary of state’s website lists eight Republican candidates for governor; one each from the Libertarian, Mountain and Constitution parties; and one with no affiliation.

In his filing announcement, Williams pointed to his “diverse background spanning finance, service in the West Virginia Legislature, and three successful terms as Huntington’s Mayor.”

“I’m running for Governor because I believe the best of West Virginia is yet to come,” he said. “From revitalizing Huntington’s economy to combating the opioid crisis with innovative solutions, my track record speaks for itself.”

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More here: Williams files pre-candidacy papers to run for WV governor | News | herald-dispatch.com

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