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2020 Candidates File Early In West Virginia

WHEELING — Pre-candidate filings in West Virginia provide a glimpse at how the 2020 primary election ballot might look in the Mountain State.

While candidates for office can’t officially file to be on the 2020 ballot until mid-January, there already are 14 pre-candidates wanting to be governor; five for the Supreme Court of appeals; officially four for commissioner of agriculture, and three for the 1st District seat in the West Virginia Senate.

Filing as a pre-candidate permits the candidate to raise campaign funds for office, but doesn’t mean they may necessarily file to run in 2020.

Candidates will start filing for the 2020 election in West Virginia beginning Jan. 13, 2020, and they will have until Jan. 25 to submit the required paperwork.


Among the 14 pre-candidates for governor are six Republicans, four Democrats, two Independents, one Libertarian and one Constitution Party candidate.

Gov. Jim Justice — elected as a Democrat in 2016 — has filed as a pre-candidate on the GOP ballot. His most recent campaign finance report shows his total contributions for the election cycle at $57,650, and a balance in his campaign coffers of $13,071.

Another Republican in the race is businessman H. Wood “Woody” Thrasher of Bridgeport, who previously served as commerce secretary under Justice. His finance reports shows expenditures already of $356,756, and a remaining campaign balance of $53,402.

Others filing as pre-candidates for the GOP nomination for governor are Shelby Jane Fitzhugh of Martinsburg; former Delegate Mike Folk of Martinsburg; Rebecca Mareta Henderson; of Parkersburg; and Charles R. Sheedy Sr. of Charleston.

On the Democrat side, pre-candidate for governor Stephen N. Smith has raised $295,098 this election cycle, and shows a balance of $122,082. He previously served as director of the West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition.

Other Democrat pre-candidates for governor are Jody Murphy of Parkersburg; Cecil Silva of Morrisvale; and Edwin Ray Vanover of Bluefield.

Independent pre-candidates seeking the governor’s office are Quintin Gerard Caldwell of South Charleston, and David Sartin of Kermit. Erika Kolenich of Buckhannon has filed as a Libertarian; and Larry Trent of Gilbert, as a Constitution Party candidate.

Seeking The Bench

The seats on the West Virginia Supreme Court currently occupied by justices Tim Armstead and Margaret Workman are up for re-election in 2020, and represent full 12-year terms on the court.

A third seat — currently held by Justice John Hutchison — also will be on the ballot. It carries an unexpired four-year term.

Armstead and Hutchison have filed as pre-candidates, as have Jim Douglas, William K. Schwartz and Joanna I. Tabit. None of the pre-candidates have declared for which seat they will run, but they must decide that at the time of their official filing.

Candidates for Supreme Court in West Virginia now run as non-partisan candidates. As such, those selected to serve will be elected on the primary ballot.

Local Circuit Court Judges David Hummel and Michael Olejasz have filed as pre-candidates for office, though Hummel hasn’t indicated for what office he will run.

Hummel’s finance statement shows him raising $31,921 during the last election cycle, and having a campaign balance of $20,692.

Olejasz, meanwhile, indicates he will seek re-election as 1st Circuit judge. His finance report shows him with a balance of $97,879.

Other State Offices

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey of Charles Town, a Republican, has filed as a pre-candidate in 2020. But he hasn’t declared for which office he will run.

Meanwhile, Beckley lawyer Samuel Brown Petsonk, a Democrat, has filed as a Democrat for attorney general.

Also filing as a pre-candidate in 2020 without stipulating an office is Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt of Fairview, a Republican. Leonhardt’s finance report shows him with $50,918 in his campaign coffers.

Roy Ramey of Lesage has filed pre-candidacy in the race as a Republican, as have Democrats Patricia Bunner of Fairview, William E. Keplinger Jr. of Moorefield and David E. Miller of Tunnelton.

Treasurer John Perdue, a Democrat, has filed as a pre-candidate for treasurer, as has Republican Riley Moore of Halltown. Moore — a former member of the House of Delegates — is the nephew of U.S. Sen. Shelley Capito, R-W.Va., and the grandson of former Gov. Arch Moore.

Secretary of State Mac Warner, a Republican from Morgantown, has filed pre-candidacy for re-election. Republican Tyrin Mykal Smith-Holmes of Huntington has filed as a pre-candidate for the office, as has Brent Pauley of Barboursville.

The race for the 1st District seat in the West Virginia Senate also shows signs of having competitors.

Senate Majority Whip Ryan Weld, R-Brooke, has filed for re-election, and also filing as a pre-candidate in the race is Republican Jack Newbrough of Weirton. Newbrough previously sought a U.S. Senate seat in 2016.

Brandon M. Evans of Weirton has filed as an Independent in the race.

Carla J. Jones of Fairview, meanwhile, is a Democrat pre-candidate for the 2nd District State Senate seat. Sen. Mike Maroney, R-Marshall, up for re-election in 2020, recently was arrested for soliciting prostitution.

Delegate Randy Swartzmiller, D-Hancock, has filed as a pre-candidate for re-election to the 1st Delegate District seat, and also filing in that race is former Delegate Mark P. Zatezalo of Weirton.

Delegate Lisa Zukoff, D-Marshall, and Republican Charles F. Reynolds of Moundsville, are pre-candidates seeking the 4th District seat.

Delegates David Pethtel, R-Wetzel and David L. Kelly, R-Tyler, have filed for their respective seats in the 5th and 6th districts.

And former Secretary of State Natalie Tennant of Charleston, a Democrat, has filed as pre-candidate for an undeclared office. She previously has made runs for governor and U.S. Senate. Her most recent finance report shows a campaign balance of $4,181.


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