Jannah Theme License is not validated, Go to the theme options page to validate the license, You need a single license for each domain name.

West Virginia GOP Senate president and doctor opposed to rolling back vaccine laws ousted in election

CHARLESTON, W.Va (AP) — West Virginia voters on Tuesday ousted the Republican president of the state Senate, as well as a doctor who drew fire for breaking with his party over health policy. school vaccination.

They were among at least eight incumbent GOP lawmakers who lost in the state’s primary election.

In the state’s eastern panhandle, U.S. Army Special Forces veteran Tom Willis defeated Republican Senate President Craig Blair, who has led the chamber since 2021. And Sen. Mike Maroney, health chairman and state human resources, was defeated by Chris Rose, a utility company. electrician and former coal miner.

Maroney’s defeat came after he publicly opposed a bill pushed by the Republican caucus that would have allowed some students who do not attend traditional public institutions or participate in group extracurricular activities like sports to be exempt from vaccinations generally required for children entering daycare or school. .

West Virginia is one of only a handful of states in the United States that only offers medical exemptions to vaccine requirements. Maroney, a Marshall County radiologist, called the bill an “embarrassment” in the Senate and said he thought lawmakers were hurting the state.

Messages left for Blair, Maroney and Rose were not immediately returned Wednesday.

What you need to know about the 2024 elections

In an email response to questions from The Associated Press, Willis said he believes his personal experiences have helped him build relationships with voters.

“I believe I was able to connect on a heart level with many voters because of the losses I suffered,” he wrote. “I was surprised at the number of voters who had also lost a spouse or child, like me, or who were single parents, like me. I think I was able to meet people where they were and make connections because I’ve been there too.

Willis said he looked forward to listening to the voices of Eastern Panhandle voters and pledged to “bring their best interests to Charleston.”

All 100 seats in the state House of Delegates were up for a vote, as were 17 of the 34 seats in the state Senate. Fourteen Republican incumbents were up for reelection, nine of which faced challengers. Four incumbents lost to their challengers, including Blair, Maroney, Senator Robert Karnes and Senator Chandler Swope.

At least four Republican incumbents lost their House of Delegates primaries: Diana Winzenreid, David Adkins, Heather Tully and Don Forsht.

Unaffiliated voters have been allowed to participate in Republican primaries in West Virginia since 1986, but this year marked the last time they could do so. The state GOP voted in January to close its primaries to registered Republicans only starting in 2026. According to the secretary of state’s website, 24.7% of registered voters in West Virginia have no party affiliation. left.

This last chance to vote in the GOP primary for unaffiliated voters could be one reason for an apparent increase in voter turnout this year. More than 224,000 West Virginia adults voted in the GOP presidential race, according to unofficial figures. That compares to 198,000 in the 2020 GOP presidential primary and 157,000 in 2016.

In Maroney’s race, Rose had the support of West Virginians for Health Freedom, a group that advocates against vaccination mandates.

During the debate over this year’s vaccine bill, which was ultimately vetoed by Republican Governor Jim Justice, Maroney said: “I took an oath to do no harm. There is no way I can vote for this bill.

West Virginia law requires children to be vaccinated against chickenpox, hepatitis B, measles, meningitis, mumps, diphtheria, polio, rubella, tetanus and pertussis, unless they are not benefit from a medical exemption. West Virginia does not require vaccination against COVID-19.

Alicia West Fancher, a mother who lives in a district neighboring Maroney’s, is a member of West Virginians for Health Freedom and lobbied for Rose’s election, said decisions about vaccines should be made by families and not by legislators.

“To me, they are playing God for the health of my children,” she said. “They don’t decide what is good for my children. I can decide with God’s help. It really makes me sick to see all these politicians making health care choices to the detriment of my family.

Maroney also lost favor with some Republicans last year when he came out against a total ban on medical interventions for transgender teens, such as puberty blockers and hormone therapy. During a committee meeting, he told fellow lawmakers that he believed it was wrong for a group of “mostly medically uneducated people” to pass laws that would ban proven medical treatments.

Maroney compared banning hormone therapy to banning the use of medications to treat mental health disorders and cancer.

In one of the most hotly contested races of the evening, Republican incumbent Sen. Patricia Rucker narrowly defeated Del. Paul Espinosa. Espinosa was recruited to run for state Senate after Rucker said she planned to challenge Blair for Senate president. Facing pressure from Blair and other Senate leaders, she later dropped out of the race for Senate presidency, but was removed as chair of the Senate Education Committee.

Rucker supported Willis in his matchup against Blair.

Blair served three terms in the Senate, including the last three years as president. Before that, Blair spent seven years in the House of Delegates.

Willis served more than two decades in the National Guard and is a real estate attorney. The Hedgesville resident co-owns the Glen Ferris Inn overlooking scenic Kanawha Falls in Fayette County. In 2018, Willis finished fourth among six candidates in a Republican primary for U.S. Senate.

Gn headline
News Source : apnews.com

Back to top button