Beckley, WV (LOOTPRESS)- On a night where most of the country appeared conflicted about its political future, West Virginia decisively painted the hills red. Republicans made historic gains in the State capturing a record number of seats in the West Virginia Legislature.
Going into the night Republicans held a majority in the WV House of Delegates with 58 seats. Many believed Republicans would gain several seats and possibly go into November 4th with 63-66 seats. However, the electorate had yet to be consulted. After the vote was counted Republicans now hold a record 76… yes… 76 seats in the House of Delegates.
A massive number of upsets rocked the Democrat party on Tuesday night. Victims included Rodney Miller (D), reportedly being touted as a potential replacement for Minority Leader Tim Miley, who was defeated by political newcomer Josh Holstein (R) in the 24th District in Boone County. Long-time Delegate Margaret Staggers found herself in 4th place in the 3 member 32nd District as Austin Haynes (R) was able to take the 3rd spot and make the 32nd a complete Republican sweep for the first time.
West Virginia’s version of AOC, Sammi Brown (D), found herself without a chair to sit in on Tuesday night when the music stopped. Wayne Clark (R) was able to defeat Brown for the 65th District Seat. The 65th had previously been represented by Jill Upson (R) until Brown won election in 2018. Brown could often be seen on the House floor making “spirit fingers” to members of the public in the gallery during debate. No one anticipated Brown losing the seat in a district that had seemed to move to the left as much of West Virginia moved to the right.
Probably most notable was the complete sweep of the 42nd District in Greenbrier County by Todd Longanacre (R) and Barry Bruce (R). Some expected one of the two of them to capture a seat in the two-member district, but no one expected losses by both Jeff Campbell (D) and Cindy Lavender-Bowe (D). In the disparate 42nd district, it was expected that at least one of the Democrats would hold their seat.
The 48th District of mainly Harrison County also saw a complete sweep by Republicans with Danny Hamrick (R), Ben Queen (R), Laura Kimble (R), and Clay Riley (R) taking all four seats in the multi-member district.
The 50th District of Marion County (Fairmont) saw a massive change to Republican from complete Democrat representation. The 50th was long represented by Linda Longstreth (D) and Mike Caputo (D). Longstreth decided to not run for another term and Caputo opted to run for the State Senate. One-term Delegate Michael Angelucci (D) was expected to hold his seat, but ultimately newcomer Republicans Guy Ward and Phil Mallow took the top of the ticket, while Joey Garcia (D) was the lone Democrat in the District winning a seat. Garcia placed ahead of Angelucci by less than 100 votes as of last nights counting.
In the 51st District of Monongalia County, the 5-member Democrat block was disrupted by a returning Joe Statler (R), who placed 3rd in the 5 member race. Statler returns to the House for Monongalia replacing Rodney Pyles (D).
In the 4th District of Marshall County, with Joe Canestraro (D) opting to run for Prosecutor, Charlie Reynolds (R) took the top of the ticket after finding himself in 3rd place behind Canestraro and Lisa Zuckoff (D) in the 2018 race. Reynolds placed 1st in the two-member district on Tuesday night.
The show of force by the Republican House Caucus could possibly be summed by the results in the 29th District as Incumbent Brandon Steele (R) secured 77% of the vote, the largest margin of victory of any State House race. The 29th District of Southwestern Raleigh County was held by long term Delegate Ricky Moye (D) until Steele won in 2018. Moye had held the seat as a moderate Democrat for 12 years. The District was once thought to be safely blue until Steele won in 2018. The lopsided result in Raleigh echoed throughout the State as Republicans gained the most seats in the House of Delegates in the State’s history, topping the 1920 total of 73.
As House members now turn their attention to the coming legislative session, one issue looming large is re-districting. Re-districting occurs every 10 years after the Census is completed and this will be the first time in over 90 years that Republicans will get to draw the map. Historically, re-districting is utilized to protect majorities and disrupt surging opposition districts. Complicating the issue is the move to single-member Districts in the 2022 election. It is difficult to predict how re-districting will look with 76 House Republicans seeking to draw their own districts.
Republican House Caucus Chair Jeff Pack (R) told Lootpress “West Virginians sent a clear and resounding message that they expect their Conservative values to be represented in Charleston. This a clear mandate from the people of this State to advance a Conservative agenda that represents their values and hopes for their children’s future prosperity. Fulfilling this mandate will be the House Republicans top priority upon returning to Charleston next year.”
House Speaker Roger Hanshaw told Lootpress “We are excited about the mandate from the voters last night as the Republican Party now holds the largest majority it has ever held in the House of Delegates in the State’s History. We recognize the responsibility that voters have given us, and we are looking forward to getting to work soon.”
The Legislature will convene in January 2021 and recess until February when it will begin the 60-day regular s