This year the primary election will be taking place May 8 for offices in the WV Senate. Many people are running for Senate, including the only incumbent in the race, Joe Manchin. Manchin, a Democrat, has been a WV Senator since 2010 after he was chosen during a special election when Sen. Robert C. Byrd passed away. Although Manchin has been in office for almost a decade, he is facing a new surge of republicanism after Trump’s win in 2016.
The only other Democrat challenging Manchin, is newcomer Paula Jean Swearengin. Swearengin, a ‘coal miner’s daughter’ from Mullens, WV, is eager to “fight for Medicare for all, universal pre-K, and free tech schools and colleges.”
The Republican race for senate is much more heated. Familiar faces like Patrick Morrisey, our state’s current Attorney General, are in the running. Morrisey prides himself on being the first republican Attorney General in WV since 1933, and supports issues like fighting substance abuse, fiscal responsibility, and establishing stricter term limits.
Evan Jenkins, a member of the House of Representatives, is another contender who prides himself on being a “conservative voice for our state.” During his time as a Representative, he fought former president Barack Obama and his war on coal. Jenkins also supports other conservative issues that many West Virginians value, like 2nd Amendment rights and pro-life ideology.
The tightest race it seems is between Morrisey and newcomer Don Blankenship, who continue to slam each other in interviews. Morrisey claims that Blankenship would not be able to defeat Manchin in November, but Blankenship disagrees saying that Manchin has “abandoned West Virginia.” Blankenship is the former CEO of Massey Energy, which is a major coal company in WV. Blankenship has stirred up a lot of controversy by being a candidate who served a prison term for the death of 29 coal miners at the Upper Big Branch explosion in 2010. He was arrested and convicted for conspiracy to violate mine safety, served a one-year prison sentence, and was fined $250,000. When Blankenship first started to campaign, his competitors laughed, but now he is one of the most popular Republican candidates in the running and is determined to defeat Manchin.
Another Republican hopeful that could become an underdog is veteran Tom Willis. Willis, the Green Beret Veteran, is very military focused in his campaign. However, he also wants to strengthen West Virginia’s economy. Willis is experienced with business by being the co-owner of the Glenn Ferris Inn in Fayette County.
After the candidates for each party are chosen in the primary this spring, they will then battle until the general election in November. Most seniors have already registered to vote in Jo Phillips’ Civics or State and Local classes, however if any have not yet registered they will be able to if their birthday is before the general election.