W.Va. GOP Chair Conrad Lucas to Run for Congress

LUCAS

PARKERSBURG — West Virginia Republican Party Chairman Conrad Lucas announced Wednesday he will step down in January to seek a House of Representatives seat.

In May 2012 Lucas, now 36, was the youngest person to be elected GOP chairman in West Virginia.

“Serving as chairman of the West Virginia Republican Party has been the honor and privilege of a lifetime,” Lucas said. “We’ve made history together over these last few election cycles and I look forward to more success for conservatives across our state and nation.”

Lucas, an attorney from Huntington, will run for the 3rd District House of Representatives seat occupied by Rep. Evan Jenkins, R-W.Va., who is running for U.S. Senate in 2018.

“I will never back down from a challenge and I want to help President Trump drain the swamp to push through necessary, conservative reforms,” Lucas said in a statement.

Under his tenure as chairman, while the party had been making gains in the Legislature and state offices, Republicans took control of both chambers of the Legislature in 2014, for the first time in 83 years. Lucas said his proudest moment as chairman was in 2016 when West Virginia voted for Trump by the highest margin of any state.

While Gov. Jim Justice was elected as a Democrat in 2016, Justice in August switched back to the Republican Party. Generally, the party executive committee supports the governor’s choice for chairman.

Messages left with Justice’s press office for a statement about Lucas leaving — and if the governor had a replacement in mind — were not immediately returned. A special election will be held for the remainder of the chairman’s term and for the position of national committeeman at the party’s winter meeting, Lucas said.

The party was not shy in chastising Justice while he was a Democrat. It released numerous emails citing the millions of dollars in taxes Justice’s coal companies owed, among other criticisms.

That changed in August when Justice — who was a Republican in 2015 before he ran for governor — announced during a Trump rally in West Virginia that he was switching parties again.

“Jim Justice’s past differences with our party and our party’s platform came while he was a Democrat,” Lucas said at the time. “We look forward to a new beginning as the governor now embraces the Republican Party.”

Lucas on Wednesday cited his youth when he was elected chairman in 2012 to take over after the resignation of former state GOP Chairman Mike Stuart.

“When I was first elected, I know that many were curious how someone who, at the time, was so young could manage our state party,” he said. “To at least some small degree, I’d like to think our success as a party can showcase the strengths and abilities of people of all ages in West Virginia.”

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