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W.Va. Primary: Incumbent Face-Offs, Redistricting And Party Switching

A polling place in Los Angeles.
Frederic J. Brown
/
NPR

Redistricting in West Virginia has led to some House and Senate incumbents running against each other on May 10th.

Incumbent Chad Lovejoy, D-Cabell, and Ric Griffith, D-Wayne, are colleagues and friends. Lovejoy, a third term delegate and Cabell County attorney, said this race is a bit troubling.

“It's a bummer,” Lovejoy said. “The truth is, Rick's a good friend of mine. He's a good Democrat. He's a good delegate. And it's just unfortunate, but it is what it is.”

Griffith, who owns a Wayne County pharmacy, is completing his first term in the House. He said running against Lovejoy is disheartening.

“I care deeply about serving as does Chad,” Griffith said. “And so we're just gonna have to face this and see what happens. But it's an unfortunate circumstance.”

Both candidates were asked to explain some key issues they think need the West Virginia Legislature’s immediate attention. They said economic development with job creation and retention topped their lists.

Lovejoy expressed the importance of stewardship with all the federal funds becoming available.

“The federal monies from the infrastructure bill, the American rescue plan, there's going to be a lot of decisions made as we go forward on how this money is going to be used in West Virginia,” Lovejoy said. “And a lot of that is going to be appropriated by the legislature. So I want to make sure that our area has a seat at the table.”

Griffith said tourism is driving much of the state’s economic development, but he said you can’t promote West Virginia without cleaning it up. He has a plan to clear littered, unsightly homes by offering incentives first, penalties second.

“I think we ought to have a fund that creates an ability to go to a poor person or just a negligent person's home and say, okay, we will fine you,” Griffith said. “But you gotta clean this up. We'll help you haul it off and if not, you will be fined.”

The entire 100 member House of Delegates is up for election. More than half the incumbents have no opposition in the May primary.

Half of the 34-member Senate is up for election. Republicans hold a 23-11 supermajority in that chamber. Several of the districts were realigned during redistricting, but the total number stayed the same.

A number of Senate primary races feature incumbent vs. incumbent, candidates switching political parties, candidates moving from house to senate and a former U.S attorney running for state senate.

They include:

District 1: Sen. Owens Brown, D-Ohio, and former Del. Randy Swartzmiller

District 3: Sen Mike Azinger, R-Wood and Del. John Kelly, R-Wood

District 7: Former U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart is running against Chad McCormick in the republican Primary.

District 9: Sen. Rollan Roberts, R-Raleigh, and current Del. and former Democrat Mick Bates, R-Raleigh;

District 13: Former Senate Democrat Mike Oliverio plans to seek office again, this time as a Republican and fellow Morgantown resident Barbara Evans Fleischauer, a longtime House Democrat. Both have primary opposition.

WVPB and the Secretary of State’s office have more information on the West Virginia Primary and casting your vote.

Government Reporter, ryohe@wvpublic.org, 304-634-8123

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