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W.Va. AG, known for his opposition to Obama and Biden policies, wins GOP primary for governor: NPR

West Virginia voters chose their candidates in primaries, with key governorships and a U.S. Senate seat opening up.

Jack Walker/West Virginia Public Broadcasting


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Jack Walker/West Virginia Public Broadcasting


West Virginia voters chose their candidates in primaries, with key governorships and a U.S. Senate seat opening up.

Jack Walker/West Virginia Public Broadcasting

After a campaign focused on national culture war issues, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey won the state’s Republican nomination for governor, according to an Associated Press race call.

In a state that voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump in 2016 and 2020, Morrisey will be the front-runner for the November election. He will face the only candidate in the Democratic primary, Steve Williams, who is serving his third term as Huntington mayor. Unopposed in the Democratic primary, Williams was able to wait and focus his efforts on the upcoming general election.

They are seeking to replace Republican Gov. Jim Justice, who has reached the two-term limit in the position.

Meanwhile, according to the AP, Justice scored an expected victory in the GOP primary for the nomination of Democratic U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, who is retiring. Justice, the owner of a wide range of businesses and the son of a coal tycoon, is the dominant figure in state politics and has been endorsed by Trump. As governor, he helped pass income tax cuts and a near-total ban on abortion. He will start as the likely front-runner against Democrat Glenn Elliott, the Wheeling mayor who the AP called the winner of that party’s primary.

In the Republican primary for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, incumbent Carol Miller defeated Derrick Evans, according to the AP. Evans served three months in prison for civil disorder for participating in the storming of the U.S. Capitol building on January 6, 2021. He was a delegate to the West Virginia House at the time.

The new GOP gubernatorial candidate, Morrisey, was elected attorney general in 2012 and used his office to launch lawsuits against federal policies of the Obama and Biden administrations. He recently led other state attorneys general in a lawsuit seeking to block Environmental Protection Agency rules requiring emissions reductions from coal- and gas-fired power plants.

Much of the primary campaign saw contenders for the Republican Party nomination battling over who was the most conservative and biggest supporter of Trump. They touted their support for the state’s coal industry, saying fossil fuels remain essential to the United States’ energy supply as the country transitions to renewable sources. But much of the media campaign focused on their opposition to transgender rights.

“Because our candidates don’t have a lot of policy alternatives they want to talk about, it’s easier to play the culture wars game and stoke fear,” said Marybeth Beller, associate professor of political science at the West Virginia Marshall University. University.

Although he grew up in New Jersey and moved to West Virginia in 2006, Morrisey beat competitors with deeper ties to the state’s political establishment. Moore Capito, a former delegate to the West Virginia Legislature, was on track to finish second. He is the son of U.S. Senator Shelley Capito and the grandson of the late Governor Arch Moore. He was supported by Governor Justice.

Another competitor was car dealership owner Chris Miller, whose mother is U.S. Rep. Carol Miller. The other candidate was current Secretary of State Mac Warner.

Randy Yohe covers state government for West Virginia Public Broadcasting.

NPR News

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