A guide to the May 10 primary election in West Virginia
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Candidates in West Virginia’s May 10 primary are hoping for the chance to earn their party’s nominations for the U.S. House or the state Legislature. The overall ballot in the midterm election may be smaller, but the voting landscape changed after the state’s once-a-decade redistricting was completed last fall. Early voting in West Virginia runs from Wednesday through May 7.
West Virginia lost one of its three U.S. House seats based on results of the 2020 U.S. census, which showed a 3.2% decline in the state’s population over the past decade — the biggest drop of any state in the nation, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
The new 2nd District features a race between incumbents in the former 1st and 2nd districts. The new district will run from Wood County along the Ohio River to the Eastern Panhandle and include the Northern Panhandle.
Reps. David McKinley and Alex Mooney will be joined in the GOP primary by Susan Buchser-Lochocki of Morgantown, Rhonda Hercules of Wheeling and Mike Seckman of West Union. McKinley is seeking his seventh term and Mooney his fifth.
In the 2nd District Democratic primary, security operations manager Angela Dwyer of Falling Waters faces former Morgantown City Council member Barry Lee Wendell.
In the new southern 1st District, formerly the 3rd District, incumbent U.S. Rep. Carol Miller faces Republican challengers Scott Fuller of Kenova, James Edwin Houser of Mount Nebo, Zane Lawhorn of Princeton and Kent Stevens of Milton. Second-time candidate Lacy Watson of Bluefield is unopposed in the Democratic primary. Watson lost in the 2020 Democratic primary in the former 3rd District.
Miller is seeking her third term.
HOUSE OF DELEGATES
The entire 100-member state House of Delegates is up for election. Republicans hold a 78-22 supermajority. More than half of the incumbents have no opposition in the May primary.
For the first time, the chamber is split into 100 single-member voting districts after the passage of a 2018 bill. Previously, the House had 67 districts with more than half of the chamber elected from multiple-member districts.
Democrats complained loudly last year when the GOP-led House passed its own redistricting map and the Senate concurred. Prior to the House vote, Kanawha County Democrat Mike Pushkin said the new map wasn’t what he envisioned when he voted in 2018 for the single-member district bill.
“I’d really like to know who we have consulted in drawing this map,” Pushkin said. “What we have before us is a gerrymandered mess. If your goal is to protect political power well into the future, it was done quite well.”
Republicans countered that the House redistricting committee held more than a dozen hearings across the state to receive public input and that lawmakers tried to avoid splitting counties and municipalities into separate districts where it was requested.
Half of the 34-member Senate is up for election. Republicans hold a 23-11 supermajority in the chamber, whose districts changed in configuration but not in numbers during redistricting.
Contested primary races include those between Republican Sen. Rollan Roberts and current Delegate and former Democrat Mick Bates; Democratic Sen. Owens Brown and former Delegate Randy Swartzmiller; and Republican Mike Azinger and Delegate John Kelly.
Former Senate Democrat Mike Oliverio plans to seek office again, this time as a Republican. Also running for the 13th District seat is fellow Morgantown resident Barbara Evans Fleischauer, a longtime House Democrat. Both have primary opposition.
Former U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart has one opponent in the GOP primary for a seat held by Democrat Ron Stollings, who is running unopposed.
Former GOP Delegate Josh Higginbotham moved to Kanawha County to seek a Senate seat among a field of four candidates.
Eight senators have no primary opposition and four others are not seeking reelection.
Voters can cast an early ballot at their county courthouse, an annex or a designated voting location during normal weekday business hours or on the two Saturdays before the primary. All 55 counties offer early voting. More information on voting, including a list of early voting sites, is available on the Secretary of State’s website.
Residents who wish to vote by absentee ballot must fill out and return an application to their county clerk’s office by May 4.
Polls will be open on the day of the May 10 primary from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. ET.
Voters who aren’t affiliated with a recognized political party may participate in the primary of the party of their choice. Unaffiliated voters must ask poll workers for the specific party’s ballot they desire, according to Secretary of State Mac Warner’s office.
With no presidential, gubernatorial or U.S. Senate races this year, the lines at the polls are anticipated to be light. In nonpresidential election years, the primary election turnout statewide was 26% in 2018, 20% in 2014 and 24% in 2010.