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Republicans Retain Control of W.Va. Legislature

From Staff Reports

Republicans retained control of the West Virginia Legislature in Tuesday’s election, scoring House and Senate wins even as their candidate for governor was going down to defeat.

Thanks in part to Northern Panhandle voters, the narrow GOP majority in the state Senate was widened in the election. Two Senate seats currently held by Democrats in the First and Second Senatorial Districts were turned over to Republicans.

In the First District, incumbent House of Delegates member Ryan Weld, a Republican, moved up to the Senate by defeating incumbent Sen. Jack Yost, D-Brooke, by about 1,000 votes.

In the Second District, vacated by incumbent Sen. Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall, political newcomer Dr. Mike Maroney, a Republican, soundly defeated Democrat Lisa Zukoff.

Republicans now hold 18 of the 34 Senate seats, and needed nine wins in Tuesday’s election to maintain that margin. Unofficial election results indicated early this morning that the GOP had won 11 seats, with Democrats claiming three. Returns were incomplete in four other races.

That means next year, the GOP will hold at least 20 seats in the Senate.

One very close race pitted state Senate Majority Leader Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, against Democrat Brian Prim. With 95 percent of precincts reporting early today, Carmichael had a slim lead, 20,750-20,084.

A substantially larger majority is held by Republicans in the House, where 64 of the 100 seats belong to that party. With all House posts on the ballot Tuesday, unofficial returns showed GOP candidates winning 60 seats to Democrats’ 33. Seven delegate races remained undecided.

Democrats were helped by two Northern Panhandle races. In the Second Delegate District, the incumbent Republican, Weld, did not seek re-election. The seat was won Tuesday by Democrat Phillip Diserio, who garnered 4,166 votes to defeat Republican Robert “Chic” DiCiccio, with 2,658 votes.

In the Fourth Delegate District, Marshall County, incumbent Republican Delegate David Evans lost on Tuesday. He will be replaced by Democrat Joe Canestraro. The district’s other seat was retained by Democrat Delegate Mike Ferro.

Elsewhere in the state, House Speaker Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, easily held onto his post by defeating Democrat Melissa Huffman, 4,435-2,940.

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