Candidate pool begins to fill ahead of 2024 elections

By Matthew Young, RealWV

With the 2023 legislative session now over, and 2024’s elections just 18 months away, the political landscape of the upcoming election cycle is beginning to develop. As campaign season takes shape, RealWV examines the offices and the candidates – both declared and assumed – who seek to fill them. 

OFFICE: United States Senate

Frontrunners: Sen. Joe Manchin III, Democrat; Gov. Jim Justice, Republican

Sen. Joe Manchin:

Sen. Joe Manchin, May 2022. Photo by Matthew Young.

Since 2010, one of West Virginia’s two seats in the U.S. Senate has been occupied by incumbent Joe Manchin III. After more than 40 years spent in West Virginia politics, Manchin is one of the few remaining elected Democrats in the state. However, Manchin’s typically conservative-leaning policy decisions often put him at odds with the national party. Manchin has filed his candidacy for reelection with the FEC (Federal Elections Commission). As of Dec. 31, Manchin’s campaign fund has just over $9.5 million on hand. 

Gov. Jim Justice:

Gov. Jim Justice, Oct. 2022. Photo by Matthew Young.

Gov. Jim Justice, though elected as a Democrat, rode the Trump-wave to political success in 2016, before switching allegiances and joining the Republican party the following year. Much like Manchin, Justice’s policies have often been criticized by West Virginia Republicans as being too liberal – with COVID-19 restrictions, and his opposition to 2022’s ballot initiative granting the legislature authority over the state’s tax system being primary examples. While Justice has made numerous indications regarding his intention to challenge Manchin for the seat, he has made no official announcement yet as to the status of his candidacy. 

Additional Candidates: 

  • Rep. Alex Mooney, Republican
  • Christopher Rose, Republican

OFFICE: United States House of Representatives (W.Va. Districts 1 & 2)

Frontrunners: Rep. Carol Miller, Republican – D. 1; Treasurer Riley Moore, Republican – D. 2

Rep Carol Miller:

Rep. Carol Miller, Oct. 2020. Photo by Matthew Young.

Incumbent Carol Miller is seeking a fourth consecutive term in one of West Virginia’s two congressional-offices. A staunch conservative, Miller most recently voted in favor of the declassification of information potentially linking the Wuhan Institute of Virology with the COVID-19 virus. Miller has filed her candidacy for reelection with the FEC. As of Dec. 31, Miller’s campaign fund has approximately $213,000 on hand.

Treasurer Riley Moore:

State Treasurer Riley Moore, Feb. 2023. Photo by Matthew Young.

The nephew of U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito and cousin of Del. Moore Capito, Riley Moore was elected as West Virginia’s State Treasurer in 2020. Moore served one term in West Virginia’s House of Delegates, but lost his bid for reelection in 2018. With incumbent Alex Mooney pursuing a gubernatorial run, Moore seeks to succeed him in Congress. Moore has filed his candidacy with the FEC, and his campaign fund has $133,659.37 on hand as of Dec. 31. 

Additional Candidates, District 1:

Derrick Evans, Republican:

A former member of the W.Va. House of Delegates, who has previously sought elected office as both a Democrat and Libertarian before settling on the Republican party, Derrick Evans was charged and convicted for his participation in the Jan. 6, 2021 riots at the United States Capital. Four days after the riot, Evans resigned from the West Virginia Legislature in an attempt to “take full responsibility for my actions.” Evans subsequently served 90-days at the Milan Federal Correctional Institution. In early 2023, Evans claimed that he was, in fact, not guilty of the crimes he has admitted to and is seen on video committing.

Derek Evans participating in the Capital riots in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021. Photo courtesy of ABC News.

Additional Candidates, District 2:

  • Dennis Cain, Republican
  • RJ Smith, Republican
  • Joseph Early, Republican
  • Dr. Heather Turley, Republican
  • Alexander Gaaserud, Republican (also filed as W.Va. gubernatorial candidate)

OFFICE: W.Va. Governor

Frontrunners: Sec. Mac Warner, Republican; AG Patrick Morrisey, Republican

Sec. Mac Warner:

Elected as West Virginia’s Secretary of State in 2016, Warner is now in his second term in office. A devout supporter of former President Donald Trump, Warner gained national notoriety as the result of West Virginia’s secure and efficient elections. However, Warner was criticized in 2022 during both the primary and general elections, with many residents across the state claiming they were prevented from voting due to the changing of hundreds of polling locations, and the confusion of poll workers surrounding absentee ballots. Warner has officially filed his candidacy, and his campaign fund has $21,809.50 at the time of last reporting. 

AG Patrick Morrisey:

As West Virginia’s first Republican Attorney General since 1933, Patrick Morrisey has made numerous references to his intention to seek higher office since 2017. Much like Warner, Morrisey is a staunch supporter of Donald Trump. However, Morrisey came under fire during the summer of 2022 for his non-committal opinion regarding West Virginia’s 150-year-old abortion laws. In 2018, Morrisey challenged Joe Manchin for the U.S. Senate seat. Although Morrisey lost the election, he collected 46.3% of the vote. Morrisey has yet to make any official announcement regarding his candidacy.

Sec. Mac Warner, Sec. Kent Leonhardt, State Auditor JB McCuskey, AG Patrick Morrisey. Sept. 2022. Photo by Matthew Young.

Additional Candidates:

  • J.B. McCuskey, Republican
  • Quintin “Browwn Clowwn” Caldwell, Independent
  • Terri Bradshaw, Republican
  • Moore Capito, Republican
  • Alexander Gaaserud, Republican (also filed as U.S. congressional candidate)
  • Chase Linko-Looper, Mountain
  • Christopher Miller, Republican
  • Edwin Vanover, Republican
  • Marshall Wilson, America Coming Together (ACT)
  • Rashida Yost, Republican

Candidates for West Virginia Constitutional Offices: 

OFFICE: Secretary of State

  • Steven Harris, Republican
  • Brian Wood, Republican

State Treasurer

  • Steven Schetron II, Republican

Commissioner of Agriculture

  • Kent Leonhardt (Incumbent), Republican
  • Roy Ramey II, Republican

Haley Bunn has declared her candidacy for the non-partisan office of Justice of the W.Va. Supreme Court of Appeals. As of the time of writing, no candidates have yet declared for the offices of State Auditor or Attorney General. RealWV will provide updates regarding the status of candidates as additional information is made available. 

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