CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Republicans maintained their majorities in the West Virginia Senate and House of Delegates on Tuesday night.
The GOP flipped at least one seat in the Senate. Laura Wakim Chapman, an attorney from Wheeling, won the First District Senate seat over Democrat and former Delegate Randy Swartzmiller, who had defeated incumbent Owens Brown in the May primary.
The GOP won all eight Senate races that had been called by The Associated Press, giving Republicans at least 22 of the 34 Senate seats. Half of the chamber was not up for reelection.
Democrats had needed to win seven seats currently occupied by the GOP in the Senate and 29 seats in the House of Delegates to retake control. Entering the general election, Republicans held advantages of 23-11 in the state Senate and 78-22 in the House.
One-fourth of the races on the ballot had no Democratic candidates. Democrats’ chances of cutting into the GOP’s stronghold also were minimized by being outnumbered by Republican voters in 35 of the state’s 55 counties.
Democrats had hoped to seize on the abortion issue to turn things around, urging voters to go to the polls after the Republican governor signed a sweeping abortion ban with few exceptions in September.
Democrats long ruled the state on the strength of their strong union presence and a clear identity as the party of working people, holding supermajorities in both chambers as recently as 2008. But in the 2014 general election, voters in the coal-dependent state steered their disgust toward Democratic President Barack Obama’s efforts to cut carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants. Obama was so unpopular in West Virginia that a federal inmate in Texas received 41% of the vote in the state’s 2012 Democratic presidential primary.
Republicans took control of both legislative chambers after the 2014 election.