CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- I owe Republican Patrick Morrisey a public apology. In a column earlier this year, I gave him no chance of defeating Democrat Darrell McGraw for attorney general.
Voters proved me wrong.
McGraw went into this race with a 6-0 winning record in general elections.
To be sure, McGraw had barely escaped the last two elections. But the unions and trial lawyers always found a way to get him across the finish line.
Not this year.
Morrisey raised enough money to pound McGraw on the airwaves. Morrisey also pounded him on the ground, hitting the campaign trail hard.
Along the way, he learned a lot about the people he will serve come January -- and about proper footwear.
Many other Republicans in West Virginia also learned about the need to choose comfort over style when going door-to-door or marching in a parade.
Republicans had their best showing in the House of Delegates in 70 years.
Outspent by Democrats, the unions and the contingency fee lawyers, Republicans persevered and gained 11 seats to cut the Democratic edge in the House to 54-46.
House Minority Leader Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, is now within five votes of becoming the first Republican Speaker of the House since John William Cummins of Wheeling turned the gavel over to Democrat J. Alfred Taylor in January 1931.
One has to go all the way back to 1942 to find a better showing for Republicans, when they whittled Democrats' majority down to 50-44.
Still, Republicans in West Virginia have yet to recover from the stock market crash of 1929.
The watershed 1930 election saw the House flip from 63-31 Republican to 65-29 Democrat -- a 34-seat shift.
The low point would come in 1964, when Democrats won a 91-9 majority in the House.
This year, Republicans fought for more single-member districts and recruited a fine crop of candidates.
The class included truck driver Scott Cadle of Letart, who became involved in politics because of a plan to make U.S. 35 a toll road.