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West Virginia early voting just around the corner
March 28, 2018

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Voters in West Virginia are set to nominate candidates for the United States Senate, United States House of Representatives, West Virginia Senate, West Virginia House of Delegates, and various local and judicial offices with early voting to commence on April 25th.

Early voting runs through May 5th and the official Election Day is May 8th.

Independents in WV are able to request either a Democratic or Republican ballot, but may only vote for candidates of that party and for any non-partisan races featured. Democrats may only vote for Democratic candidates and Republicans may only vote for Republicans.

WV's senior United States Senator, Joe Manchin, III, is running for a second full term, which will be the marque race in the state, and could well determine control of the Senate with Democrats showing surprising strength in open Republican-held seats in Arizona, Tennessee, Texas, and against incumbent Nevada Republican Senator Dean Heller.

Manchin is being challenged by Paula Jean Swearengin in the Democratic Primary. The only public poll in the race was conducted by SurveyMonkey and commissioned by the Justice Democrats, a group supporting Swearengin, and showed Manchin with a 38 point lead.

The Republican Primary is much more unsettled and features six filed candidates, but only three who are seen as competitive, Don Blankenship, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, and Representative Evan Jenkins.

Blankenship is the former CEO of Massey Energy, who spent time in a federal prison. Morrisey has been West Virginia Attorney General since 2013. Jenkins, a former Democrat and state senator, has represented WV's Third Congressional District since 2015.

Two competing polls were released this month. A poll commissioned by the Jenkins campaign through Harper Polling found Jenkins leading with 29 percent, followed by Blankenship at 27 percent and Morrisey in third with 19 percent. A second poll, this one from the Morrisey campaign, showed Morrisey with 24 percent, Blankenship at 23 percent, and Jenkins at 17 percent.

While the Third Congressional District seat is open, the incumbents in the First and Second Congressional Districts are running for re-election.

Representative David McKinley, who has represented the First since 2011, will face the winner of the three-way Democratic Primary. Ralph Baxter, an attorney, Kendra Fershee, a WVU law professor, and Tom Payne, a veteran and attorney who unsuccessfully ran in the Second Congressional District in 2016, are all vying for the chance to face McKinley.

In the Second District, Representative Alex Mooney will face either Aaron Scheinberg or Talley Sergent. Mooney moved from Maryland to West Virginia in 2014 to seek the seat. Scheinberg is a veteran and former director for The Mission Continues. Sergent directed Hillary Clinton's WV campaign in 2008 and 2016, worked for the State Department and for Coca-Cola.

The Third District is the only open federal level seat this cycle. Incumbent Evan Jenkins is running for the US Senate. His departure has created a wide field of candidates. Republicans will chose between physician and former Democrat Ayne Amjad, WV Delegate Marty Gearheart, former State Republican Chair Conrad Lucas, WV Delegate Cindy Miller, WV Delegate and former Democrat Rupie Phillips, former WV Delegate Rick Snuffer, and Philip Payton. The Democratic field is a little smaller with Huntington Bus System CEO Paul Davis, nurse Janice "Byrd" Hagerman, WV Delegate Shirley Love, and WV Senator Richard Ojeda competing for the nod. Huntington Mayor Steve Williams had been in the race, but withdrew before filing opened.

Those who are not registered to vote may do so by visiting their county court house or online at ovr.sos.wv.gov/Register/Landing. The last day to register is April 17th.

H. S. Leigh Koonce is a sixth-generation West Virginian. He writes from Jefferson County.

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