Tagwest virginia

Stories about West Virginia

Mooney defeats McKinley in WV-2 Republican primary

U.S. Rep. Alexander Mooney defeated U.S. Rep. David McKinley, Susan Buchser-Lochocki, Rhonda Hercules, and Mike Seckman in the Republican primary for West Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District on May 10, 2022. As a result of redistricting, Reps. McKinley (District 1) and Mooney (District 2) ran for re-election in the same district. 

Mooney received 54% of the vote based on unofficial returns while McKinley received 36% of the vote. The other three candidates combined to receive 10% of the vote.

McKinley was elected to represent District 1 in 2010. U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D), Gov. Jim Justice (R), former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (R), and the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce endorsed McKinley. McKinley told MetroNews in an Oct. 2021 interview that his focus was proving to voters in the new district that he can deliver tangible results. McKinley’s key issues were the U.S.-Mexico border, economic revitalization including investing in coal and natural gas, and U.S. relations with China.

Mooney was elected to represent District 2 in 2014. Former President Donald Trump (R), Club for Growth, FreedomWorks, and the House Freedom Fund (a PAC associated with the House Freedom Caucus) endorsed Mooney. In an Oct. 2021 interview with MetroNews, Mooney said his conservative record should appeal to voters in the district. Mooney’s key issues were the 2nd Amendment, the state’s opioid epidemic, and reducing regulation of the state’s energy industry.

Mooney is expected to also win in the general election. At the time of the primary election, three independent race forecasters considered the general as Solid or Safe Republican. According to Roll Call, Donald Trump (R) would have won the district by 37 percentage points in 2020. 



West Virginia Legislature sends amendment giving itself authority over state board of education rules and policies to Nov. 8 ballot

The West Virginia House of Delegates approved a constitutional amendment on March 3 giving the legislature the power to approve, amend, or repeal rules put forward by the State Board of Education. It was the final vote required to certify the measure for the Nov. 8 ballot.

The State Board of Education is a nine-member board with nine-year terms. Members are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the state Senate. Not more than five members can belong to the same political party. The board sets rules and policies governing the public school education system and county boards of education.

The constitution states that “the general supervision of the free schools of the State shall be vested in the West Virginia board of education.” It also states that the board shall perform “such duties as may be prescribed by law.” This constitutional amendment would add that the board’s authority over general supervision of public education is subject to a requirement that its rules and policies must be submitted to the legislature for review and approval, amendment, or rejection.

Miller Hall, president of the State Board of Education, opposes the amendment. Hall said, “To add another layer of politics, I don’t think it’s good; I don’t think that’s a good move.”

Senator Patricia Rucker (R-16), chair of the Senate Education Committee, said, “It’s actually making certain for those who elected us that we are overseeing and holding accountable, and that the laws that we do pass do get applied correctly.”

The West Virginia State Legislature can refer a constitutional amendment to the ballot by a two-thirds vote in both chambers.

The House passed House Joint Resolution 102 on Feb. 22, proposing the amendment in a vote of 80-18, with two absent. The Senate approved the measure by a vote of 23 to 11 on Feb. 28. The Senate made a technical amendment correcting a statute citation number, which sent HJR 102 back to the House for concurrence. The House concurred by a vote of 74-20 on March 3, 2022, with six absent.

The final votes in each chamber were largely along party lines. In the Senate, one Democrat joined 22 Republicans in support, and one Republican joined 10 Democrats in opposition. In the House, one Democrat joined all 73 voting Republicans in support, and the remaining 20 voting Democrats were opposed. West Virginia has a Republican trifecta. Republicans have had majority control of both the Senate and the House since 2014.

This measure was the fourth constitutional amendment certified for the 2022 ballot in West Virginia. The other three measures concern court authority over impeachment proceedings, incorporation of churches, and a business activity use property tax exemption.

A total of 72 statewide measures have been certified for 2022 ballots in 31 states so far. Four other education-related measures have been certified in four other states. Three relate to taxes or appropriations to fund education in Massachusetts, Nevada, and New Mexico. The other would allow in-state tuition for non-citizen students in Arizona.

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New single-member House districts boost total number of state legislative primaries in West Virginia this year

The filing deadline for candidates running for state or federal office in 2022 in West Virginia was Jan. 29, 2022. This is the first election following West Virginia’s redistricting process, which featured structural changes to the state’s legislature.

Before the 2022 election cycle, the West Virginia House of Delegates used multi-member districts, with 100 seats divided between 67 districts. During the redistricting process, the legislature instead created 100 single-member districts. As a result, 84 of the 85 incumbents running for re-election are doing so in new districts.

The Senate kept its multi-member districts, in which two senators represent each of the 17 districts. One seat from each district is up for election each cycle, and senators are elected to staggered four-year terms. The 13 incumbent senators seeking re-election are all running in the same districts they represented before redistricting.

Here are some other highlights from this year’s filings:

  • Overall, 295 major party candidates filed for the 117 districts holding elections this year: 100 Democrats and 195 Republicans. This equals 2.5 candidates per seat, matching 2020 but lower than the 2.6 in 2018.
  • Twenty-three of the 117 districts holding elections (20%) are open, meaning no incumbents filed to run. Four are in the Senate and 19 are in the House. Among those in the House, nine are in districts that did not exist before 2022, three are in districts that were previously multi-member, and seven are in districts that remain single-member.
  • 30.8% of possible primaries are contested, the lowest percentage since 2016. However, 72 total primaries are contested, the most since 2014, because of the 33 new single-member House districts. Seventy-two contested primary elections will take place out of a possible 234 (30.8%).
  • Ninety-eight incumbents are seeking re-election—22 Democrats and 76 Republicans. Thirty-six incumbents (37%) will face primary challengers, the lowest percentage since 2014.

West Virginia’s state legislative primaries are, along with Nebraska’s, the fourth in the election cycle, scheduled for May 10.

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Two incumbents among candidates in Republican primary for West Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District

Five candidates are running in the Republican primary election for West Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District on May 10, 2022. As a result of redistricting, U.S. Reps. David McKinley (District 1) and Alexander Mooney (District 2) are running for re-election in the same district. These two candidates have received the most media attention and noteworthy endorsements.

McKinley was elected to represent District 1 in 2010. Gov. Jim Justice (R) and 2020 presidential candidate Andrew Yang (D) endorsed McKinley. McKinley told MetroNews in an October 2021 interview that his campaign was focused on proving to voters in the new district that he can deliver tangible results. His campaign website highlighted as key issues the U.S.-Mexico border, economic revitalization including investing in coal and natural gas, and U.S. relations with China.

Mooney was elected to represent District 2 in 2014. Former President Donald Trump (R), the Club for Growth, FreedomWorks, and the House Freedom Fund endorsed Mooney. In an October 2021 interview with MetroNews, Mooney highlighted what he called his conservative record and said that’s what should appeal to voters in the district. His campaign website highlighted as key issues the 2nd Amendment, the state’s opioid epidemic, and reducing regulation of the state’s energy industry.

McKinley has criticized Mooney for previously holding office in Maryland and running unsuccessful campaigns in both Maryland and New Hampshire. Mooney responded to these criticisms by saying he became a West Virginian by choice and that his eight years in the U.S. House representing the state should matter more than his past campaigns.

Mooney calls McKinley a Republican in name only, citing McKinley’s votes in favor of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 and the creation of a January 6 commission. McKinley said that his infrastructure vote reflected what was best for the constituents of West Virginia and that he only supported the initial creation of a bicameral January 6 commission and not the final House-only committee.

Also running in the primary are Susan Buchser-Lochocki, Rhonda Hercules, and Mike Seckman.

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West Virginia U.S. House delegation shrinking from three to two sets up primary between two representatives

The filing deadline for candidates running for state or federal office in West Virginia was Jan. 29, 2022. Thirteen candidates—three Democrats and 10 Republicans—are running for the state’s two U.S. House districts. That’s 6.5 candidates per district, more than the 4.7 candidates per district in 2020 and 6.3 in 2018.

Here are some other highlights from this year’s filings:

  • This is the first election to take place under new district lines following the 2020 census, which resulted in West Virginia losing a U.S. House district.
  • The lost district has resulted in Reps. David McKinley (District 1) and Alexander Mooney (District 2) competing in the District 2 Republican primary.
  • Representative Carol Miller (R), who currently represents District 3, is running in District 1.
  • Since 2012, there have only been two election cycles with an open seat. There was one open seat in both 2018 and 2014.
  • Both Republican primaries are contested with five candidates each.
  • Neither seat is guaranteed to one party, with Democratic and Republican candidates running for both.
  • Seven candidates (two Democrats, five Republicans) are running in District 2, while six (one Democrat, five Republicans) are running in District 1

West Virginia’s U.S. House primaries will take place on May 10, 2022. The candidate with the most votes wins the primary, even without a majority, so no runoff elections will take place.



West Virginia enacts new congressional districts

West Virginia enacted new congressional districts on Oct. 22, 2021, when Gov. Jim Justice (R) signed a proposal approved by the House of Delegates and Senate into law. This map will take effect for West Virginia’s 2022 congressional elections.

On Sept. 30, 2021, the House and Senate Redistricting Committees released 18 congressional district map proposals. On Oct. 13, the West Virginia Senate passed a map proposed by Sen. Charles S. Trump IV in a 30-2 vote, which the House then approved on Oct. 14 in an 84-12 vote.

“This bill puts the state into two districts, which are compact and have low drive times,” said Del. Gary Howell (R). State Sen. Trump said, “Compactness is quite a challenge when you’re trying to draw any kind of district. The two West Virginia panhandles render the state uncompact. I believe this bill meets the constitutional requirements of both the United States constitution and the West Virginia constitution. I think it’s a good map.”

As of Oct. 25, five states have adopted new congressional maps, one state’s congressional map is awaiting approval by the state supreme court, six states were apportioned one congressional district (so no congressional redistricting is required), and 38 states have not yet adopted new congressional maps.

Congressional redistricting has been completed for 28 of the 435 seats (6.4%) in the U.S. House of Representatives.



Redistricting timeline update: West Virginia calls special session, Wyoming committee agrees on timeline

Here’s a summary of recent redistricting updates from West Virginia and Wyoming.

West Virginia: On Oct. 7, 2021, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice (R) called for a special session starting Oct. 11 for the legislature to finish the redistricting process and approve legislative and congressional district maps. “This is on all the redistricting we have to do. We’ve got to do this and everything. The special session is part of the Legislature’s constitutional duty to redistrict the state of West Virginia,” Justice said.

Wyoming: At an Oct. 6, 2021, meeting, the Wyoming Legislature’s Joint Corporations, Election and Political Subdivisions committee agreed on a schedule to finish the redistricting process. The committee set Nov. 1, 2021, as the deadline for map proposals. Redistricting legislation proposals must be finished by Dec. 1, 2021, so they can be reviewed before the 2022 budget session begins on Feb. 14. The committee plans to meet again in early November to go over any remaining issues with the map drafts, but has not set a date yet.



Michigan, West Virginia end statewide face-covering requirements

Two states ended statewide public mask requirements for vaccinated and unvaccinated people between June 18-24.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) ended most remaining statewide coronavirus restrictions, including the statewide mask mandate, on June 22. Vaccinated and unvaccinated people still have to wear masks on public transportation and at public transportation hubs (like bus stations and airports).

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) ended the statewide mask requirements for unvaccinated individuals on June 20. Vaccinated and unvaccinated people still have to wear masks on public transportation and at public transportation hubs. 

In total, 39 states issued statewide public mask requirements during the pandemic. At the time of writing, 10 states had statewide mask orders. All 10 states have Democratic governors. Nine of the 10 states exempted fully vaccinated people from most requirements.

Of the 29 states that have fully ended statewide public mask requirements, 16 have Republican governors, and 13 have Democratic governors. Twenty-six states ended mask requirements through executive order, two (Kansas and Utah) ended mask requirements through legislative action, and one (Wisconsin) ended its mandate through court order.



The 2020 election gave West Virginia Republican lawmakers the votes needed to place an amendment prohibiting the state judiciary from interfering with impeachments on the 2022 ballot

On April 9, the West Virginia State Legislature voted to refer a constitutional amendment to the 2022 ballot that would say that no state court has jurisdiction to intercede, intervene in, or interfere with impeachment proceedings of the West Virginia House of Delegates or the state Senate. Currently, the state constitution does not state a role for the state judiciary to participate or review impeachment proceedings, apart from the chief justice of the state supreme court presiding over the proceedings.

The amendment was proposed in response to an investigation and impeachment proceedings for multiple West Virginia Supreme Court Justices in 2018. The justices were accused of misusing over $1 million in state funds for courthouse office renovations; misuse of state vehicles; and illegal payments to senior judges. 

In June 2018, the House of Delegates unanimously approved a resolution authorizing the House Judiciary Committee to conduct an impeachment investigation into the justices. On September 21, 2018, Justice Margaret Workman, one of the impeached justices, filed a motion with the state supreme court arguing the impeachment proceedings violated the state constitution’s separation of powers clause. On October 11, five circuit court judges temporarily assigned to the state supreme court blocked Justice Workman’s impeachment trial from proceeding.

The justices ruled the impeachment proceedings violated the state constitution’s separation of powers clause, arguing the state Senate did not have the authority to impeach Workman. The ruling was later applied to Justices Robin Davis and Allen Loughry.

Between July and November 2018, Justices Menis Ketchum, Robin Davis, and Allen Loughry resigned from the supreme court. The Senate censured Justice Beth Walker but did not remove her from office. Workman served on the court until her retirement in December 2020.

In West Virginia, to put a legislatively referred constitutional amendment before voters, a two-thirds (66.67%) supermajority vote is required in both the West Virginia State Senate and the West Virginia House of Delegates, which equates to 23 votes in the state Senate and 67 votes in the state House. 

The state Senate first attempted to place the amendment to limit the state judiciary from intervening in impeachment proceedings on the ballot during the 2020 legislative session. It was defeated along party lines with 20 Republicans favoring the amendment and 13 Democrats opposing it.

In the 2020 general election, Republicans gained the votes they needed to meet the supermajority requirement in both chambers. Republicans gained three seats in the state Senate to increase their majority from 20-14 to 23-11. Republicans also increased their majority in the state House from 58-41 (with one vacancy) to 76-24. The Republican majority increased to 77-23 after Del. Jason Barrett switched his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican in December 2020.

The 2021 amendment was introduced as House Joint Resolution 2 (HJR 2) on February 11, 2021. On March 2, the state House approved the amendment by a vote of 78-21 with one Republican absent. The vote was largely along party lines with two Democrats joining the voting Republicans in support. On April 9, the state Senate approved the amendment along party lines with a vote of 23-11. West Virginia voters will decide the amendment and at least two others at the 2022 general election.

State Delegate Pat McGeehan (R) said, “[The amendment] has everything to do with restoring the separation of powers. We need to restore our own rightful powers as a legislative branch, because since [the 2018 Workman decision] … the legislative branch has essentially been reduced to a social club. The impeachment powers are the last line of defense that we have in the state constitution. We have to pass this and ensure that we take our place again, to be able to enforce this kind of power and the threat of it.”

Julie Archer, the coordinator of West Virginia Citizens for Clean Elections, which opposes the amendment, said, “This constitutional amendment would make it so that no state court could intervene to protect the right to a fair hearing of a public official facing impeachment, no matter how frivolous the charge or constitutionally flawed the process. In the hands of a partisan majority, this new power could be abused to oust political opponents without cause, thereby eroding existing checks and balances between the three branches of government and undercutting public trust in the political process.”

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New apportionment data released – six states gain congressional seats, seven states lose seats

On April 26, 2021, the U.S. Census Bureau released it post-2020 census apportionment counts. Six states—Texas (two seats), Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina, and Oregon—gained seats. Seven states—California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia—each lost a seat.

Of the six states that gained congressional seats, three are Republican trifectas (Texas, Florida, and Montana), meaning Republicans control the governorship and majorities in both state legislative chambers in each. Two (Colorado and Oregon) are Democratic trifectas, and one (North Carolina) is a divided government.

Of the seven states that lost congressional seats, three (California, Illinois, and New York) are Democratic trifectas, two (Ohio and West Virginia) are Republican trifectas, and two (Michigan and Pennsylvania) are divided governments.

What is apportionment, and how does it work? Every ten years, the nation conducts the census, a complete count of the U.S. population. The data gleaned from the census determines congressional apportionment. Apportionment is the process by which the 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives are allotted to the states on the basis of population, as required under Article I, Section 2, of the U.S. Constitution. A state can gain seats in the House if its population grows – or lose seats if its population decreases – relative to populations in other states.

After the first census (1790), the 105 members of U.S. House represented about 34,000 residents each. Now, the 435 members of the House will represent an average of 761,169 residents each.

The 2020 census: According to the 2020 census, the resident population of the United States, as of April 1, 2020, was 331,449,281, representing a 7.4 percent increase over the 2010 population. California remained the most populous state with 39,538,223 residents. The population of Texas, the only state to gain multiple congressional seats from apportionment, grew by nearly 4 million residents between 2010 and 2020, reaching 29,145,505. Utah was the fastest-growing state: its population increased by 18.4 percent between 2010 and 2020, reaching 3,271,616.

The census is a complex undertaking. First, the Census Bureau collects data. This involves making a list of every residence (including houses, apartments, dorms, etc.) in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the five U.S. territories; asking members of each household in the country to complete the census survey; and following up with those households that did not submit surveys. The Census Bureau then must process the data. This involves making a final list of residential addresses, cross-checking for duplicate responses, and processing write-in responses. The Census Bureau also uses imputation, a statistical method applied “in rare instances” that enables the Census Bureau “to fill in missing information using what we already know about an address and its nearest, similar neighbor.” Typically, upon final processing of the data, the Census Bureau delivers state population and apportionment counts by December 31 in the year of the census. Detailed redistricting data follows by April 1 of the next year.

On November 19, 2020, Census Bureau Director Steve Dillingham announced that, “during post-collection processing, certain processing anomalies [had] been discovered.” Dillingham said that he had directed the bureau “to utilize all resources available to resolve this as expeditiously as possible.” On January 27, 2021, Kathleen Styles, a Census Bureau official, announced that the final apportionment report would be delivered by April 30, 2021.

What comes next: The Census Bureau has not yet delivered redistricting data to the states. Upon announcing the 2020 apportionment counts, Acting Census Bureau Director Ron Jarmin said, “Our work doesn’t stop here. Now that the apportionment counts are delivered, we will begin the additional activities needed to create and deliver the redistricting data that were previously delayed due to COVID-19.” The Census Bureau expects to deliver the raw data to the states by August 16. The “full redistricting data with toolkits for ease of us” will be delivered by September 30.

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