May 12, 2024

Eyes of nation trained on Tuesday's West Virginia primary contests

West Virginia Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin's decision not to seek re-election has set the stage for a big legislative shake-up in his home state, and this week's primary is one that the entire country will be watching.

As the Washington Examiner reports, key races for governor and Congress in the Mountain State feature many well-known faces but could be a harbinger for a veritable sea-change in party dominance.

High-stakes election ahead

In the 2020 presidential election, former President Donald Trump garnered an impressive 69% of the vote in West Virginia, offering a glimpse into the potential trajectory of the state's future.

When all is said and done this coming November, there may be no Democrats left standing for the state in the House or the Senate.

Despite Manchin's absence from the electoral horserace, this cycle has brought a surprising influx of outside spending into the state.

Open Secrets notes that the Senate race, in particular, has involved the fourth-largest volume of campaign spending seen anywhere in the country.

Whereas in some jurisdictions, primary races fail to draw the sort of excitement of a general election battle, as Sam Workman of the West Virginia University Institute for Policy Research and Public Affairs notes, “...our primary election on Tuesday is effectively the election.”

Candidate breakdown

Though pundits will be watching everything that happens in West Virginia this week, there is little suspense at the top of the ballot, with Joe Biden and Trump expected to win their respective races with ease.

The governor's race, however, involves six Republican hopefuls seeking to replace term-limited Jim Justice, who has turned his attentions to a race for the U.S. Senate, as the Associated Press explains.

Thus far, the Republican primary is a close contest between Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and Shelley Moore Capito, at 28% and 25%, respectively, and the winner of the race will face Democrat Steve Williams, the current mayor of Huntington, who is unopposed in his primary.

In terms of the U.S. Senate contest, Justice is contending primarily against Rep. Alex Mooney for the Republican nod, and the winner will go onto run against the winner of the Democratic primary, who could be Wheeling Mayor Glenn Elliot, who has already received Manchin's endorsement.

As these races unfold, the eyes of the nation will be on West Virginia, a state in which Democrats once held sway but which has since moved to the right in a noteworthy – and perhaps predictive – way.

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