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New districts, new delegates in Kanawha County

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Kanawha County's newly configured 35th Delegate District -- made up of the western third of the old 30th District -- pitted familiar incumbents against strong newcomers in a battle for four seats in the House of Delegates -- with surprising results.

Delegate Doug Skaff Jr., D-Kanawha, Republican newcomer Suzette Raines, Delegate Eric Nelson, R-Kanawha, and GOP newcomer John McCuskey won seats in the redrawn House district.

With all 58 precincts reporting, Skaff received 14,789 votes, followed by Raines with 13,580 votes, Nelson with 14,313 votes and McCuskey with 11,259 votes.

Pending any recounts and the review of provisional ballots, longtime incumbent Democratic House members Bonnie Brown and Barbara "Bobbie" Hatfield finished out of the running. Hatfield received 11,195 votes, while Brown got 11,024 votes.

Democrat Chris Morris was next with 9,728 votes and Republican Fred Joseph finished last with 8,583 votes.

Skaff, who topped the ticket as he did in the 30th in 2010, was instrumental in pushing though the redistricting plan that broke up the old seven-member delegate district.

"It encouraged a lot of new faces and fresh voices to run," Skaff said of the new district.

However, he said, "I was somewhat shocked with the outcome, with two new people getting elected."

With the Democrat-heavy Upper Kanawha Valley shifted to the new 36th District, the race in the 35th attracted Raines, owner of a public relations firm, and McCuskey, a Charleston lawyer, along with perennial Republican challenger Joseph, who came within 900 votes of winning in 2010.

The race also featured Morris, who served as state tax commissioner under Gov. Joe Manchin, and whose TV ads featured him literally running for office.

Democrats hold in the 36th

In the House 36th District race, incumbent Democrats Mark Hunt, Danny Wells and Nancy Guthrie won seats in the redrawn district Tuesday night.

With all 53 precincts reporting, Hunt received 9,250 votes, followed by Wells with 9,137 votes, and Guthrie with 8,711 votes.

"I'm delighted the voters in this new district have shown this level of confidence in me," Guthrie said. "My vote total seems to improve every year."

The three Republican candidates who fell short in the 36th were Robin Holstein with 7,699 votes, Stevie Thaxton with 6,262 and Steve Sweeney with 5,992 votes.

The 36th District was created following the breakup of the seven-member House 30th District. Wells, Guthrie and Hunt now serve in the 36th.

"I feel good because the state is in good financial shape," Wells said Tuesday. "The Upper Kanawha Valley is doing well, and I look forward to spending a lot of time down there with those people."

Holstein runs a nonprofit consulting firm. Sweeney owns a construction company, and Thaxton is an electrician who heads Faith Electrical Service.

The 36th District includes parts of South Hills, Kanawha City, Charleston's West Side and eastern Kanawha County.

During the campaign, candidates said they supported upgrading roads, as well as sewer and water systems across the county.

In other House of Delegates races in Kanawha County:

  • Incumbent Delegates Dave Perry, John Pino and Margaret Staggers won re-election, with only Mountain Party candidate Tighe Bullock on the ballot against them in the 32nd District, which includes a few hundred residents of Montgomery as well as much of Fayette County.
  • Incumbent Meshea Poore, a Democrat, defeated Mountain Party candidate Derrick Westly Shaffer in the 37th District, which includes downtown Charleston and the West Side flats.
  • Republican incumbents Patrick Lane and Ron Walters defeated Democratic challengers Ginny Moles and Clint Casto in the 38th and 39th districts in western Kanawha County.
  • House Minority Leader Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, was unopposed in the 40th District.
  • As for other races that included part of Putnam County:

  • In the 13th District, Democratic incumbent Brady Paxton won re-election, and Republican challenger Scott Cadle seemed ready to unseat Democratic incumbent Helen Martin for the district's second seat. Republican challenger Brian Scott was running third, ahead of Martin.
  • In the 14th District, Republican Jim Butler led Democrat Jimmie Wood.
  • In the 15th District, Republican incumbent Troy Andes was unopposed.
  • In the 22nd District, Democratic incumbent Josh Stowers and former Democratic Delegate Jeff Eldridge led Republicans Gary Johngrass and Michel Moffatt.
  • Reach Phil Kabler at philk@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5100. Reach Eric Eyre at ericeyre@wvgazette.com.


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