Justice and Morrisey win, Blair and Karnes lose in mixed bag of primary results

By Matthew Young, RealWV

The end of the 2024 primary season brings with it the calm before the storm. And while many races were decided in the manner that the polls and the pundits predicted, that storm is most certainly brewing. 

The State’s Senate may perhaps be experiencing the most turmoil it has seen beneath its current Republican rule. And while the supermajority is in no danger of being overthrown, the ranks of the Republican Senate caucus will look very different come January. 

Craig Blair of Berkeley County, who serves as both West Virginia’s Senate President and Lieutenant Governor, lost the nomination to his Republican challenger Tom Willis by nearly 1,500 votes. Blair’s defeat will most assuredly create a power vacuum within the Senate, with several likely contenders looking to fill it. 

Tuesday also saw three other Republican State Senators primaried out of their seats. Sen. Mike Maroney of Marshall County lost to challenger Chris Rose by some 2,800 votes, while Sen. Chandler Swope of Mercer County dropped a tight race to Craig Hart by less than 500 votes. And in District 11, which encompasses Randolph County, Sen. Robert Karnes was ousted by challenger Robbie Morries by more than 4,400 votes. 

In House races, Republican incumbent Diana Winzenreid of Ohio County was defeated by Bill Flanigan, while former Delegate Ray Canterbury won a three-way contest to replace Freedom Caucus member Del. Todd Longanacre in Greenbrier County. Longanacre did not seek re-election to a third term. Longanacre’s Republican colleague to the north however, Del. Heather Tully of Nicholas County, did seek re-election, but was defeated by challenger Stanley Adkins. On the blue side of House District 47, Kayla McCoy defeated Roger Vannoy for the Democratic nomination.

In what comes as little surprise, Gov. Jim Justice decimated Congressman Alex Mooney, more than doubling his vote count in their race to be the Republican nominee to succeed Joe Manchin in the United States Senate. He will go on to face Democratic nominee, Wheeling Mayor Glenn Elliott in November’s general election. Elliott scored a 7,000 vote victory over political outsider Zach Shrewsbury. And with only capturing 18% of the Democratic vote, Don Blankenship’s party changing theatrics proved to be a non-factor. 

A fairly competitive race for the 1st Congressional District of the United States House of Representatives  saw Democrat Chris Bob Reed best challenger James Umberger by less than 5,000 votes. Reed will now challenge incumbent Congresswoman Carol Miller, who easily defeated former Delegate Derrick Evans by more than 22,000 votes. 

In the 2nd Congressional District, State Treasurer Riley Moore took 44% in a five-way race to become the Republican nominee, setting him up to take on unopposed Democrat Steven Wendelin in a contest to succeed outgoing Congressman Alex Mooney. And in the hotly contested race to be West Virginia’s next governor, the polls held true as Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s 33% was enough to make him the Republican choice to challenge the unopposed Democratic nominee, Huntington Mayor Steve Williams. 

Kris Warner earned the support of Republicans in his bid to replace his brother, Mac Warner, as West Virginia’s next Secretary of State. His 86,611 votes were more than enough to better the 37,776 collected by former Democratic House Minority Leader and new Republican-convert Doug Skaff. Warner will meet yet another unopposed Democrat this November when he faces off against Thornton Cooper. 

With victories in their respective primaries, Democrat Teresa Toriseva and Republican J.B. McCuskey will compete to succeed new gubernatorial nominee Patrick Morrisey as Attorney General, while the again unopposed Democrat Mary Ann Roebuck Claytor will take on Republican State Senator Mark Hunt to replace McCuskey in the Auditor’s office. 

Short of a strong write-in candidate making their presence felt over the next several months, former Delegate and current Acting Revenue Secretary Larry Pack is poised to become the state’s next Treasurer. And in the state’s final Constitutional Office, incumbent Republican Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt defeated former Delegate Joshua Higginbotham, and will now be challenged by Democrat Deborah Stiles. 

In the State’s nonpartisan races, Justice Haley Bunn will be returning to West Virginia’s Supreme Court of Appeals, while Sen. Charles Trump will be joining her on the court for the first time. And with 59% of the vote, Ryan White defeated Elgine McArdle and Mychal Schulz to Division 1 of the Intermediate Court of Appeals. 

General Election Day in West Virginia is Tuesday, November 5. RealWV will provide continuing coverage of all the nominee’s campaigns as election season progresses. 

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