Lootpress WV State Senate Election Predictions
While the 2020 election year has been full of craziness and unpredictability, we are endeavoring to provide you with some ironclad predictions as to how the State Senate should look by the time the ballots are counted on the night of November the 3rd. As with our federal and statewide list, a prediction of a win is not an endorsement of any candidate, but a mere prognostication on our part. The editorial board of Lootpress has not endorsed any candidate in the 2020 general election.
In West Virginia, Senators are elected to four year terms, with two Senators for each Senatorial District, of which there are seventeen districts. Every two years half of the Senate is up for election, while the other half will be up for election two years later.
Senate 1- The Northern Panhandle- Incumbent Senator Ryan Weld (R) should hold on to his seat in the State Senate, although it is not a sure thing. Delegate Randy Swartzmiller (D) threw his hat in the ring for the Senate and can make things interesting as Swartzmiller is rather popular in his district. While this race could go either way, Weld should hold the seat, but the margin will be less than 5%.
Senate 2- Calhoun, Gilmer, Ritchie, Doddridge, Tyler, Wetzel, Monongalia, and Marion- Incumbent Senator Mike Maroney (R), though embattled, appears to be set to retain his seat in the WV Senate against challenger Josh Gray (D).
Senate 3- Wood, Wirt, Roane, and Pleasants- Senator Donna Boley (R) will retain her title as Senator from the 3rd against challengers Robin Wilson (D), and Travis Shultz (L).
Senate 4- Mason, Putnam, Jackson, and Roane- The 4th Senatorial District was home to Senate President Mitch Carmichael, the operative term being “was.” Amy Nichole Grady (R) defeated the sitting Senate President in the primary, effectively shocking the entire West Virginia political establishment. Grady will handily defeat Bruce Ashworth (D) and Loyd Butcher (L) in one of the more conservative Senatorial Districts in the State.
Senate 5- Cabell and Wayne- Incumbent Bob Plymale (D) should retain his office over challenger Chad Shaffer (R), resulting in Plymale’s 8th term in the Senate. Plymale was first elected to his current office in 1992.
Senate 6- Wayne, Mingo, McDowell, and Mercer- Senator Chandler Swope (R) is running unopposed so he gets a “bye” and will return to the Senate for his 2nd four-year term.
Senate 7- Wayne, Mingo, Logan, Lincoln, and Boone- This is probably one of the most fun races to watch in the State. Rupie Phillips (R) and Ralph Rodighiero (D) are facing off for the vacated seat of Paul Hardesty (D), who was a lobbyist who quit his job to be appointed by Governor Justice to fill the seat vacated by Richard Ojeda, who vacated the seat to run for President… who quit running for President to run for the U.S. Senate, but lost in the Primary to Paula Jean Swearengin.
So, for those keeping score at home, Richard Ojeda managed to lose 4 different offices he sought or held within a 24 month period (U.S. Congress WV-3 , U.S. President , WV Senate [2019 vacated seat], U.S. Senate [2020 Primary]), which has to be some sort of record.
Nonetheless, Rupie Phillips is by far one of the most popular politicians in Southern West Virginia and should defeat Rodighiero by at least 5%. As if enough seats in the Logan area haven’t been vacated, it should be noted that Rodighiero is vacating his seat in the House of Delegates (District 24) to seek office in the Senate.
Senate 8- Putnam and Kanawha- Senator Glenn Jeffries (D) is being challenged by Kathie Hess Crouse (R) for Senatorial District 8. Crouse is an outspoken advocate for Homeschooling and 2nd Amendment Rights at the West Virginia Capitol during every legislative session and a favorite of the right wing of the Republican Party. Jeffries is very well liked in his District and generally considered to be a moderate voice in an increasingly radical Democrat Party. To complicate matters, outside SuperPAC Mountain State Values has spent over $180,000.00 dollars against Crouse attempting to tie her to legislation passed by a body of which she was not even a part. While this race may be close, we expect Senator Jeffries to retain his seat in the 8th, but not without a scare from Crouse.
Senate 9- Raleigh, Wyoming, McDowell- The 9th Senatorial District was decided when David “Bugs” Stover (R), the current Wyoming County Circuit Clerk, defeated Senator Sue Cline in the 2020 Republican Primary. To say defeated is putting it lightly, as Stover trounced Cline by 20 points in a primary that was campaigned for during a lockdown. Stover is unopposed in the General Election and will be sworn into office in the coming year prior to the start of the legislative session.
Cline was an appointee to the Senate by then Governor Earl Ray Tomblin when elected Senator Daniel Hall (R) vacated the seat in 2016 to become a lobbyist with the NRA. Cline narrowly defeated Mike Goode (D) in 2016 to retain the Senate-9 seat.
Senate 10- Greenbrier, Fayette, Summers, and Monroe- Senate 10 features another race without an incumbent as Senator Kenny Mann decided not to seek re-election. Jack David Woodrum (R), a County Commissioner in Greenbrier, and former Senator Bill Laird (D) square off in this race for the vacant seat. Laird is a formidable politician in the area, winning the Senate seat in 2008, and again when he was unopposed in 2012. Laird is also a former Sheriff of Fayette County, and a former member of the House of Delegates.
While Laird is a tough out, Lootpress expects Woodrum to win the race by a 5% or better margin.
Senate 11- Nicholas, Webster, Pocahontas, Randolph, Grant, Pendleton, Upshur- Incumbent Jason Pitsenbarger (R), who was appointed by the Governor when Senator Greg Boso resigned, was defeated in the primary leaving former Delegate Denise Campbell (D) and former Senator Robert Karnes (R) to face off in the General Election. The 11th Senatorial District has a lot of dynamics affecting the race, but Karnes has won this race before and stands poised to do it again. Of course, it should be noted that Karnes lost his seat in the primary to Senator Bill Hamilton in 2018. Notwithstanding the loss in 2018, Karnes should defeat Campbell on November 3rd.
Senate 12- Clay, Braxton, Gilmer, Lewis, Harrison- Delegate Patrick Martin (R) did not seek re-election to his seat in the House of Delegates, and instead sought to take on incumbent Senator Doug Facemire (D) for the 12th Senatorial District seat. Martin is a consummate campaigner, and Facemire finds himself in a district that has grown significantly more conservative since he last ran four years ago. This race will be close, but Patrick Martin should pick up the win on Election Night.
Senate 13- Marion and Monongalia- With Senator Roman Prezioso (D) not seeking re-election, Delegate Mike Caputo (D) announced his candidacy to seek the Senate 13 seat. Caputo, a veteran of 24 years in the House of Delegates and the Minority Whip, faces Rebecca Polis (R) in the general election. While anything can happen in politics, it would take something very drastic to change the certainty that Caputo busts through the door the winner of this race on November 3rd.
Senate 14- Monongalia, Preston, Taylor, Barbour, Tucker, Grant, Mineral, and Hardy- With an equal amount of certainty as the last race, incumbent Senator Randy Smith (R) will run away with this race against challenger David Childers (D). No one has ever gotten within 12 points of Senator Smith, and Childers does not appear to be the candidate to break that mold.
Senate 15- Mineral, Hampshire, Morgan, Berkeley- Senator Craig Blair (R), the current Senate Finance Chairman, and potential Senate President going into the next legislative session, is facing challenger Donald Kinnie (Mountain Party). No Democrat opponent filed against Blair, and that is not the first time this has happened. The last time this happened in 2012 when Senator Blair faced Constitution Party candidate Daniel Litten, and the Senator captured more than 80% of the vote. Lootpress predicts a similar result for the Finance Chairman in 2020.
Senate 16- Jefferson and Berkeley- Incumbent Senator Patricia Rucker faces a difficult race against Democrat challenger Pete Dougherty. It is a race that is made even more difficult by the fact that Mountain State Values is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars against Rucker. This race will be close, but ultimately, we think Dougherty will get the win on November 3rd.
Senate 17- Kanawha- In another race featuring an empty seat, Delegates Eric Nelson (R) and Andrew Robinson (D) are vacating their seats in the House for an opportunity to win the seat of Senator Corey Palumbo, who decided not to run for re-election. Polls have this race going either way, and more than one million dollars will be spent on either side of this race, including that spent by independent groups. Lootpress predicts this race to be close, but Nelson should come out on top by at least 2% in what should prove to be one of the most interesting races in the State.