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In West Virginia, coveted Senate seat dominates election year

Your guide to the 2024 elections

West Virginia Capitol building, Charleston, W.Va. Kitti Eaton/iStock/Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

In West Virginia, coveted Senate seat dominates election year


Voter makeup: West Virginia had 1.1 million registered voters in 2022, with a party breakdown of 39 percent Republican, 33 percent Democrat, and 23 percent unaffiliated. The state also reported a smattering of Mountain Party members, Libertarians, and other affiliations that added up to less than 5 percent of registered voters. In 2022, Kanawha County, which includes the state capital of Charleston, had the most registered voters with 117,520. The second largest was Berkeley County with 83,245 registered voters.

Voting: Voters must register 21 days before an election. They can register online, in person, or by mail with a West Virginia driver’s license or ID card, as well as the last four digits of a Social Security number. Voters looking to cast an absentee ballot may request one through the West Virginia Secretary of State website or a county clerk’s office if they have a qualifying reason such as out-of-state college or travel, deployment, or disability. Absentee ballots require individual applications for each election.


In the 2020 presidential election, former President Donald Trump carried the Mountain State with 68.6 percent of the vote, far outpacing Joe Biden’s 29.7 percent. In this year’s primaries, Trump won 88 percent of the GOP vote, with nearly 10 percent going to former candidate Nikki Haley. Biden received 70.5 percent of his party’s vote, and roughly 11 percent went to dark horse candidate Jason Palmer, a philanthropist who ended his campaign on May 15. In presidential elections, West Virginia has been one of the most faithfully Republican states since the 1990s. The Republican candidate for president carried the state in every election between 2000 and 2020. West Virginia has four electoral college votes.


West Virginia will decide on a new governor in a showdown between Democratic candidate Steve Williams, 68, and Republican Patrick Morrisey, 56. Erika Kolenich for the Libertarian Party and Chase Linko-Looper of the Mountain Party are also running.

  • Morrisey, the state attorney general, topped out a crowded Republican field in the May 14 primaries, capturing 33.3 percent of the vote. He has been in office since 2012. Morrisey is pitching himself as a champion against federal overreach. He played a leading role in the landmark 2022 case of West Virginia v. EPA, which made headlines for further limiting the power of regulatory agencies to set industry-shaping requirements.

  • Williams, the Democratic challenger, comes from a banking and finance background. He has served since 2012 as mayor of Huntington, the state’s second-largest city. Under his watch, Huntington was named the winner of the America’s Best Communities Competition from a selection of 350 other cities across the nation. Williams describes himself as a homegrown leader willing to invest in the development of the state. Williams ran unopposed for the Democratic nomination for governor.


Countering its history of supporting Republican candidates at the presidential level, West Virginia has had a Democratic senator since 2010: Joe Manchin, 76. Now that Manchin has announced his retirement, Republicans see the seat as an opportunity to flip the balance of power in the Senate, which currently has a 51-49 Democratic majority.

  • In the Republican field, Gov. Jim Justice, 73, won the nomination on May 14 with a dominating 61.8 percent of the vote and the endorsement of former President Donald Trump. Justice has a background in business as the former president and CEO of Bluestone Industries Inc. and the Bluestone Coal Corporation. Justice launched a successful bid for governor in 2016 and assumed office in January 2017. He has framed himself as a pro-Trump, pro-economy, pro-energy candidate. He was sworn to combat what he sees as a “war on coal,” a central part of West Virginia’s economy. According to a 2021 report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, West Virginia is the second-largest coal producer in the nation, accounting for 14 percent of the nation’s total production.

  • Glenn Elliot, 52, also has a record of public service, having served his hometown of Wheeling as mayor for two terms starting in 2016. Elliot also owns a law firm and a real estate company. He lists abortion access as his No. 1 issue on his website. He also wants to safeguard Social Security, healthcare, and unions. Elliot beat fellow Democratic candidates Zachary Shrewsbury and Don Blankenship for the nomination with 45.4 percent of the vote. Manchin endorsed Elliott in the primary.


West Virginia has two congressional districts, one held by Rep. Alex Mooney, 52, and the other by Rep. Carol Miller, 73, both of whom are Republicans. Miller has served in the House of Representatives since 2018 and before that held a seat in the state House of Delegates since 2006. She won reelection in 2022 by a 37.9 percent margin. Mooney, who has represented the state in Congress since 2014, similarly won his election in 2022 by 31.1 points. He campaigned for Senate this year instead of running for reelection to the House. West Virginia Treasurer Riley Moore, 44, is replacing Mooney on the Republican ticket. Moore beat out four other GOP challengers with 45.0 percent of the vote. Republicans are expected to hold onto both seats in November.


Incumbent Secretary of State Mac Warner declined to run for reelection to campaign for governor instead. He lost in the Republican primary, but his seat remains open.

  • Kris Warner, the Republican nominee for secretary of state, beat two other Republican challengers with 45.9 percent of the vote on May 14. Warner has three priorities listed on his campaign website: securing elections, removing red tape for existing businesses, and combatting federal overreach. He has a background in real estate and finance and was previously the chairman of Mongolia County, West Virginia.

  • Thornton Cooper, the Democratic nominee, ran unopposed in the primary. Formerly a member of the Kanawha County Democratic Executive Committee between 2006 and 2015, Cooper is a native of the South Charleston area. He worked previously as an attorney and, as a private citizen, has called for increasing the minimum wage and enhancing the security of the state’s water and waste regulations.


  • West Virginia’s Supreme Court has five nonpartisan seats, two of which were up for election this year. Because the candidates are running unopposed, they have secured their seats headed into November. Justice C. Haley Bunn (who was first appointed by Gov. Jim Justice to the bench in 2022 when her predecessor resigned) will continue serving into 2025. Newcomer Charles S. Trump, a Republican member of the state Senate since 2014, will join the bench next year. The court has a mix of political backgrounds with three of the justices having previously held office in West Virginia, two of them as Republicans.


West Virginia has one legislature-referred constitutional amendment on the ballot this year. If approved, the measure would prohibit the practice of physician-assisted suicide, euthanasia, or “mercy killing.”

Dig Deeper:

  • Read my report on West Virginia’s upcoming Senate race and how longtime Democratic Sen. Manchin’s decision to step down changed strategies for Senate campaigns nationwide.

  • Read Ray Hacke’s article in WORLD Magazine about five female athletes in West Virginia who forfeited a competition to protest a court decision that allowed a man to participate in their sport.

Leo Briceno

Leo is a WORLD politics reporter based in Washington, D.C. He’s a graduate of the World Journalism Institute and has a degree in political journalism from Patrick Henry College.


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