CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A national GOP group and a Manhattan hedge fund manager helped fuel the party's election gains in West Virginia's House of Delegates, contributing to a $500,000 deluge in last-minute ads separate from the $5.1 million spent by this year's legislative candidates, the final round of campaign finance reports show.
Voters increased the Republicans' share of the 100-seat House from 35 to 46 delegates last month. The GOP also picked up three seats in the state Senate, bolstering the party's ranks to nine of 34 members.
The Republican campaign strategy has at least some Democratic officials taking note.
"We're going to have to make some changes, or we're going to lose our majority in the House," said Pam Van Horn, executive director of the West Virginia Democratic Legislative Council.
"In order to play, we're going to have change the way we do things, is my opinion."
The Republican House inroads followed around $215,000 in ads, mostly direct mail flyers, launched two weeks before the election by several Republican-allied political action committees. These 11th-hour appeals to voters targeted 24 House seats, either by attacking Democratic candidates or promoting the GOP nominees.
A new group, the House GOP PAC, spent about half that amount, according to its post-election filing. Its donors included the campaigns of the state's congressional Republicans, Reps. David McKinley and Shelley Moore Capito. Virginia House Speaker William Howell gave $10,000 and was among several out-of-state contributors.
The Republican State Leadership Committee provided $35,000. The national GOP "super PAC" devoted heftier funds to legislative candidates elsewhere, including at least $357,000 in Kentucky, for instance, and $715,000 in New Mexico.
Sean Fieler of New York's Equinox Partners contributed $25,000. Fieler donated more than $510,000 during this election cycle to Republican super PACs, party committees and candidates, as well as to New York's Conservative Party.
Fieler helps lead several organizations that advocate a return to the gold standard for U.S. monetary policy, according to his postings on their websites. Fieler has also been active on social conservative issues through such groups as the National Bible Association and the Institute for American Values, according to their websites.