This Tuesday brought the first wave of primary elections before the House and Senate midterm elections on November 6.
Some of the highest profile races that grasped the attention of the national media took place in Appalachia: West Virginia, Ohio and North Carolina.
Among the most anticipated and scrutinized races was the GOP Senate primary in West Virginia, where two mainstream Republican politicians, Patrick Morrisey (West Virginia Attorney General) and Evan Jenkins (Congressman from West Virginia’s 3rd Congressional District) faced off with an outsider, ex-coal baron and Massey Energy CEO, Don Blankenship, best known for serving a year in prison for his involvement in a tragic mining incident that left 29 miners killed.
Patrick Morrisey won the race, taking 35% of the votes. Jenkins came in second with 29% and Blankenship third with just under 20%.
In a rare instance of a top-to-bottom party unity, the entire GOP establishment came together to denounce Blankenship and urged West Virginia voters to reject the controversial candidate, whom President Trump portrayed as unable to defeat the Democratic incumbent, Sen. Joe Manchin III.
Manchin won his party’s primary with an overwhelming 70% percent of the votes, defeating challenger Paula Jean Swearengin.
The Democratic Primary race for the West Virginia’s U.S. House District 3 was another highly anticipated race, where an unorthodox candidate, Richard Ojeda pulled off a landslide victory over his opponents, with over 50% of the votes. He will face Carol Miller, the winner of a much tighter GOP primary.
Richard Ojeda, a US Army veteran and a member of the West Virginia Senate, is an unconventional Democrat, whom many point out as the kind of candidate that the Democratic party might need to win back at least some of the West Virginia seats.
Most notably, Ojeda can boast the support of worker unions. Recently, he has shown support for West Virginia teachers striking across the state.
In West Virginia U.S. House Districts 1 and 2, the Democratic primaries were won by Kendra Fershee and Talley Sergent respectively. They will face GOP incumbents, David B. McKinley and Alex X. Mooney.
In Ohio, a number of consequential primary races took place last night.
Richard Cordray celebrated a comfortable win over Dennis Kucinich in the Democratic Senate primary, earning over 60% of the votes to Kucinich’s 20%. Cordray, the first director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, will face Republican Mike DeWine, Ohio’s Attorney General and a former U.S. Senator.
DeWine defeated Mary Taylor with an almost 20% lead.
GOP voters had a chance to vote for their candidate to the U.S. Senate and picked Rep. Jim Renacci (R-OH 16). He will run against the Democratic incumbent, Sen. Sherrod Brown. It was Brown who unseated current GOP’s governor candidate Mike DeWine in 2007. Renacci was endorsed by President Trump and will be at the frontlines of a contest over what is perceived as part of a lost Democratic territory.
Ohioans voted for candidates in all 16 U.S. House Districts. Here are the detailed results compiled by the New York Times.
Ohio voters also voted in support of Issue 1, a bipartisan proposal to change the rules for redistricting in Ohio. The bipartisan proposal is an attempt to fix the process, which has a long and scandalous history in the state. It was approved with an overwhelming support of almost 75% of the votes.
In North Carolina voters picked candidates for all 13 U.S. House Districts. Some races, like District 1, had uncontested candidates on both sides of the aisle. Others, like District 2 Democratic primary, where Linda Coleman took the victory over Ken Romley, or District 9 GOP race, where Mark Harris narrowly defeated the incumbent Robert Pittenger, turned out to be slightly more competitive.
WHO’S NEXT ?
Next in line are primaries in Pennsylvania on May 15 and Kentucky on May 22.