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Blankenship Efforts Fall Short

Blankenship efforts fall short

By The Associated Press
Tuesday November 07, 2006

Voters today kept Democrats in charge of West Virginia’s Legislature, largely ignoring a coal executive’s multimillion-dollar campaign to sweep Republicans into office.

An ailing Delegate Margarette Leach, D-Cabell, was the only incumbent Democrat to fall as her party kept its majority in the House of Delegates. Democrat Doug Reynolds picked up a seat in the neighboring 16th District, displacing Delegate Greg Howard, R-Cabell.

Sen. Russ Weeks, R-Raleigh, lost to greyhound breeder and former police officer Mike Green. With all 95 precincts reporting, Green had 56 percent of the vote to Weeks’ 44 percent.

The GOP also lost a vacated Senate seat to former broadcaster Erik Wells in Kanawha County’s 8th District. With 87 percent of precincts reporting, Wells had 58 percent of the vote to Republican Mark Plants’ 42 percent.

At least 24 House Democrats targeted by Massey Energy Co. chief executive Don Blankenship survived their races, while 22 of the GOP challengers he aided fell short. Leach also was on Blankenship’s hit list, with Republican Carol Miller taking her place in the 15th House District.

With all 100 seats in the House of Delegates on the ballot, 11 seats were open thanks to departing lawmakers. Democrats held on to the Raleigh County seats of outgoing House Speaker Bob Kiss and of Delegate Sally Susman, who lost her primary bid for a Senate seat. Newcomers Ricky Moye and Mel Kessler joined incumbent Democrats Ron Thompson and Virginia Mahan and GOP Delegate Linda Sumner in the 27th House District delegation.

Sixteen Republican and 38 Democratic incumbents won re-election. Democrats picked up six open House seats, while the GOP secured two.

Half of the 34 seats in the Senate were up with Democrats holding 21. Six GOP-held seats were on the ballot.

Dr. Ron Stollings kept the 7th Senate District in Democratic hands. With 91 of 121 precincts reporting, Stollings led Republican Larry Lyon, 79 percent to 20 percent.

The GOP sought to keep open seats in Putnam and Tucker counties. Democrats faced a tough challenge in the 11th District, after a television station aired nude photos of incumbent Sen. Randy White, D-Webster.

Uncontested races guaranteed the Republicans one Senate seat and the Democrats, four. In the House, 18 Democrats and seven Republicans were unopposed.

The big variable became the campaign funded by Blankenship. As of Friday, Blankenship had poured $2.04 million into a statewide effort to wrest the House from the Democrats.

Blankenship’s campaign, dubbed “And For the Sake Of the Kids,” focused on a handful of issues — including parental notification of abortions for minors, opposition to same-sex marriage and abolition of the state’s 5 percent food tax — and alleged that Democrats failed to reflect the will of average West Virginians.

Blankenship also contributed nearly $100,000 to both House and Senate candidates.

Article provided courtesy of Vivian Stockman of the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition




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