Santorine Edges Sheehan by Five

WHEELING – Dolph Santorine has won a Republican nomination to a 3rd District House of Delegates seat by just five votes following the results of a canvass conducted in Ohio County on Monday.

Two seats were up for election, and Delegate Erikka Storch, R-Ohio, received the most votes in the race with 2,123. Santorine won the second seat by capturing 814 votes – five more than challenger Martin Sheehan at 809. Chris Elswick received 466 votes.

Election night results had Santorine winning by four votes.

County commissioners on Monday determined the fate of 74 provisional ballots cast in the election, overruling 43 of the ballots and permitting them to be added to vote totals. Of the 43 ballots added, 30 were cast by Democrats and 13 by Republicans.

Santorine and Sheehan both were present at the canvass, as was county Republican Party Chairwoman Patricia Levenson. They were joined later in the day by state GOP Chairman Conrad Lucas, who is hoping to steer the party toward leadership of the House with the 2014 election. Democrats currently control the 100-seat House with 53 seats, compared to 47 seats for Republicans.

Lucas said he traveled here from Lincoln County on Monday because an immediate show of party unity was necessary in the 3rd District race.

“This state exists because of Wheeling,” he said. “The unity seen here today will be the change that sets West Virginia on the right path in years to come.”

Santorine said the similarities between the four Republican candidates in the race were greater that their differences.

“This is truly an historic opportunity,” he said. “This is the first time in 86 years the Republican Party is in striking distance of taking control of the House. This is an opportunity for us to change the House to one that’s more oriented to the free market, and can make a huge difference in the economy.”

Sheehan said he has given Santorine a list of notes detailing where he thought Santorine did well in the primary election, and where he thought he did better.

“I’m disappointed for me, but satisfied Republican candidates will be strong,” he said. “There was a time when Republicans didn’t have such qualified candidates to choose from. People with a greater amount of life experience are running for office. They have a greater interest in public service, when before they didn’t think they could make a difference.”

The race among Democrats for the 3rd District seats, meanwhile, was determined by 76 votes. Winning the nomination were Holli Smith with 1,776 votes and Shawn Fluharty with 1,501. Dave Palmer captured 1,425 votes.