Governor’s race, statewide contests top West Virginia ballot


CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A look at Election Day in West Virginia:

TRUMP TERRITORY: From the governor’s race down to local contests, Republicans in West Virginia are leaning on a strong predicted showing in the state by Donald Trump on Tuesday.

Trump won a resounding 77 percent of the vote in the West Virginia primary in May, when he had just become the GOP’s presumptive nominee. Hillary Clinton lost her Democratic primary to Bernie Sanders in the Mountain State.

Trump is popular in Appalachia for making broad promises to put coal miners back to work, despite grim economic forecasts for the industry.

Clinton has gotten backlash in coal-producing areas for saying she would “put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.” She later called that a “misstatement.”

In her full statement, she stressed that the country can’t abandon coal workers as the economy shifts away from fossil fuels.

COAL MAN VS. COLE: In an open race for governor, Democrat Jim Justice, a billionaire coal and agriculture magnate, is facing Bill Cole, the state Senate president.

Justice has relied on his household name and reputation as a businessman with big ideas to separate himself from national Democrats, who remain unpopular in West Virginia. He says he’ll leave the ballot blank for president. Justice has put almost $3 million of his own wealth into the campaign.

Fueled largely by business interests, Cole is hoping for a surge from Trump. He has tied himself to the real estate mogul in TV ads and introduced Trump at a rally in Charleston in May.

A Republican hasn’t won the governor’s race since Cecil Underwood in 1996.

Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has hit his two-consecutive-term limit.

ATTORNEY GENERAL: Republican Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, the first member of his party to hold the post in about eight decades, is in a heated, expensive fight for a second term.

Businessman and state House Delegate Doug Reynolds has used about $2.8 million of his own wealth in the contest.

To help Morrisey, the Republican Attorneys General Association has spent about $6.8 million on ads. The group is funded mainly by business interests.

OTHER STATEWIDE: Four other statewide jobs held by Democrats are on the ballot. Some have been in Democratic hands for decades.

Democrat Mary Ann Claytor faces Republican state Delegate JB McCuskey of Charleston in the open auditor’s race. Claytor would become the first ever African-American statewide officeholder. McCuskey would be the first Republican elected to the post since 1928. Longtime Democratic Auditor Glen Gainer left the post in May.

Democrat John Perdue, West Virginia’s longest-serving state treasurer, is seeking his sixth term. He faces Republican Charleston bank executive Ann Urling.

Democratic Agriculture Commissioner Walt Helmick is seeking his second term. He will face Republican state Sen. Kent Leonhardt in a rematch of the 2012 race. Helmick is the last Democrat of the country’s 12 elected state agriculture commissioners.

After losing a U.S. Senate bid in 2014, Democratic Secretary of State Natalie Tennant is going after her third term. She will face retired military attorney and veteran Mac Warner of Morgantown.

U.S. HOUSE BIDS: Only one of three West Virginia congressional races appears competitive as the GOP defends its clean sweep of the House seats in 2014.

In the 2nd Congressional District, Rep. Alex Mooney faces Democratic attorney Mark Hunt of Charleston. Mooney has outspent Hunt 2-to-1, but Hunt has also put more than $270,000 of his own money into the campaign.

There hasn’t been much competition for the other two GOP sitting congressmen. Rep. Evan Jenkins faces former Secret Service agent Matt Detch in the 3rd District and Rep. David McKinley faces former state lawmaker Mike Manypenny.

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