by Ron Gregory
The final day of candidate filing for the 2016 elections brought few surprises, either on the state or regional level. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the day was when former Attorney General and Supreme Court Justice Darrell McGraw filed his candidacy for Supreme Court this year.
McGraw joins a field that includes sitting Justice Brent Benjamin, Beth Walker, Wayne King and Bill Wooten. There was some speculation after McGraw’s filing that Wooten, thought to be z McGraw supporter, might now withdtraw from the contest.
By entering the race at the last minute, McGraw becomes the favorite to win the battle. As a well-known Democrat, it is thought that McGraw will gain the votes from a united Democrat/union/liberal coalition. Although the race is non-partisan, most observers believe vpters will have clear knowledge of which ideaology candidates support.
Benjamin and Walker are clearly identified as conservative Republicans. Most experts feel King and Wooten will not be factors in the final outcome.
McGraw previously served a term on the Supreme Court before becoming the lpngtime Attorney General. Defeated after one term on the court, McGraw lost the AG post four years ago to Republican Patrick Morrisey.
In most other statewide races, the field of candidates did not rise Saturday. Three Democrats, Jim Justice, Booth Goodwin and Jeff Kessler will vie for the Democrat Governor nomination. The sole Republican is State Senate President Bill Cole.
The Secretary of State field remained the same with incumbent Democrat Natalie Tennant poised to take on challenger, former Clarksburg Mayor Patsy Trecost. Republican Mac Warner has also filed for that position.
For Auditor, where incumbent Democrat Glenn Gainer is retiring, Democrats Mary Ann Claytor, Jason Pizatella and Robin Righter had previously filed. The sole Republican is current Kanawha County legislator J.B. McCuskey.
Former legislator Larry Faircloth entered the Republican field for State Treasurer, joing Ann Urling who had previously filed for the GOP. They will battle to face Democrat incumbent and Boone County native John Perdue.
For Commissioner of Agriculture, it appears to be a rematch frpm 2012 as Democrat incumbent Walt Helmick and Republican Kent Leonhardt are the only two candidates. Helmick defeated Leonhardt in a tight battle four years ago.
For Attorney General, it is set up to be a tussel between incumbent Republican Morrisey and Cabell County Delegate Doug Reynolds.
In the Sixth Senatorial District, Brandon Barker and Rockey Seay will fight it out for the Democrat nomination to take on Republican Chandler Swope. The district is currently represented by Cole, the GOP standard bearer for Governor.
Incumbent Logan Senator Art Kirkendoll is being challenged by Richard Ojeda in the Democrat primary. Republican candides are Jordan Bridges and perennial candidate Gary Johngrass. In Senate District Eight, Democrat Glenn Jeffries is poised to take on incumbent Republican Chris Walters.
Senate District 17 will see incumbent Democrat Corey Palumbo challenged by Republican legislator Chris Stansbury.
House District 13 has attracted an array of candidates. Democrats Scott Brewer, Rosalea Juba-Plumley and George Thaxton will battle for the two seats. Incumbent Scott Michael Ihle will be challenged on the GOP side by Amanda Cadle, Kathie Crouse and Joshua Higginbotham.
District 15 finds incumbent Republican Geoff Foster alone on the GOP side. Jeffery Smith and Terrence Turley filed for the Democrat nod.
In District 20, incumbent Democrat Justin Marcum is being challenged by former Mingo County Commissioner Ronnie Blankenship, a fellow Democrat. In the 21st, appointed incumbent Phyllis White will face Gilbert Mayor Vivian Livingood for the Democrat nod. Mark Dean and Roger Stacy will hook up for the Republican nomination.
The 22nd Delegate District, with two representatives boasts incumbent Democrat Jeff Eldridge and Republican incumbent Michel Moffatt. Joining Eldridge in the primary are Scott Gillenwater and Gary McCallister. On Moffatt’s ticket are Eric Johnson and Zack Maynard.
The 23d District, currently represented by Delegate Joshua Nelson, has two Democrats and one Republican candidate. The Ds are former Boone Sheriff Rodney Miller and Larry Blethen. On the GOP side is Daniel Belcher. Nelson, a Republican, opted to run for County Commissioner.
Incumbent Democrats Ralph Rodighiero and Rupie Phillips will face Michael Johnson in their primary for the 24th District. Republicans in the race are Tamus Rowe and Aaron Stone.
The 35th District, which has four seats, has 16 candidates. Incumbent Stansbury will leave a seat open to campaign for his Senate position and incumbent McCuskey is running, as noted, for Auditor.
Republicans who have filed are Moore Capito, grandson of iconic former Governor Arch A. Moore, Jr.; Calvin Grimm; Bill Johnson; Matt Kelly; Charlotte Lane; incumbent Eric Nelson; and Keith Pauley. Democrats in the contest are Ben Adams, C.B. Britton; incumbent Andrew Byrd, Devin Casey, Thornton Cooper, John Knight, Shawn Little, Jack Rogers and Benjamin Sheridan.
The 36th District is currently represented by Democrats Nancy Peoples Guthrie, Larry Rowe and Republican Brad White. They are all running for re-election. Others in the field are Democrats Kevin Parsons, Andrew Robinson, Curtis Robinson, Jr., Don Wilson and former Delegate Danny Wells. In addition to White, Republicans in the race are Tressie Cabell, Adam Marcum, Justin Quinn and Chelsea Walker-Gaskins.
The 37th District, which encompasses most of downtown Charleston, the East End and parts of the Westside, is currently represented by Democrat Mike Pushkin, who is seeking re-election. Republican Thomas Goodman and Democrat JT Thompson are also running.
Republican Delegate Patrick Lane is not seeking re-election in the 38th District. Running there are Republicans David Bender, Nancy Foster and Bob Keller. Tom Tull is the sole Democrat in the race.
The 39th District, currently served by Republican Ron Walters, has six candidates. In addition to Walters, Republicans Will Jordan has filed. Mountain Party representative Chris Reed is also in the race. Democrats are Clint Casto, Shannon Hagerman and Wes Holden.
House Speaker Tim Armstead, a Republican has two party challengers: Ronald Shamblin and Lewis Taylor in the 40th. Democrat Melissa Huffman and Mountain Partier Jeffrey Straight are also on the ballot.
Circuit Judge candidates are also required to sign on with the Secretary of State’s office. Area candidates include Joshua Butcher and Douglas Witten in Logan County’s Division One. In the Second Division, Judge Eric O’Briant is unopposed.
In an interesting twist, Kanawha County Assistant Prosecutor Fred Giggenbach is running for Judge in the 11th Circuit, Greenbrier County. Others in the field are Britt Ludwig, Robert Richardson and Jeffrey Rodgers.
Kanawha County’s seven incumbent judges were all unopposed: Jennifer Bailey, Duke Bloom, Tod Kaufman, Charles King, James Stucky, Joanna Tabit and Carrie Webster. The 25th Circuit of Boone and Lincoln counties have two incumbent judges unopposed: Jay Hoke and Will Thompson.
Putnam County’s two incumbent judges, Phil Stowers and Joe Reeder, are also unopposed.
For Family Court Judge in the 8th Circuit, Mingo County, incumbent Sabrina Deskins will face Tonya Hatfield. In the 9th Circuit, incumbent Kelly Codispoti is alone in Division One. There are two candidates in Division Two: Donna Pratt and Christopher Workman.
Division One of the Boone/Lincoln Circuit will feature a race between Bobby Hale and incumbent Cynthia Jarrell. Ron Salmons is unopposed in Division Two, where incumbent Scott Elswick is retiring.
Only Kanawha County’s Division Five features a contest with Jim Douglas going against Sharon Mullens. Unopposed are Rob Montgomery in Division One, Lera VanMeter in Division Four, Joe Zak in Division Three, and Kenneth Ballard in Division Two.
Meanwhile, in the office of Kanawha County Clerk Vera McCormick, one of the more interesting developments was the entry of former Sheriff Dave Tucker into the Democrat field for his old office. He will be challenged by another ex-Sheriff Mike Rutherford. The current Sheriff, Mike’s brother John, opted not to seek re-election.
Other courthouse offices remained virtually unopposed. Republican McCormick has no opposition for her job and neither does her GOP ballot mate, Prosecutor Chuck Miller. Democrats Cathy Gatson (Circuit Clerk) and Sallie Robinson (Assessor) are also unopposed. Republican County Vice Chairman Lance Wheeler will challenge incumbent Democrat David Hardy for County Commission.
Incumbent Magistrate Pete Lopez is unopposed in Division One; but incumbent Ward Harshbarger faces two challengers, Cecilia Thomas and former Nitro Mayor Rusty Casto, in Division Two. Likewise, in Division Three, Brent Hall will be in a race with Marva Crouch and Kathy Ferguson.
Division Four finds incumbent Jack Pauley unopposed. In Division Five, Mike Sisson will meet Pam Nixon. Unopposed in Division Six is incumbent Jack Shelton. Division Seven finds Julie Yeager meeting Melanie Rucker. Incumbent Kim Aaron will take on Todd Chevalier in Division Eight.
In Division Nine, incumbent Tim Halloran will be challenged by Dianna Graves, Margaret Chico-Eddy, Steve Harper and Paris Workman.
In Division Ten, incumbent Traci Carper-Strickland is unopposed.
For Kanawha Board of Education, the candidates are Ric Cavender and Bill Carpenter in District One with incumbent Jim Crawford in the Second and Adam Knauff in the Third.
Conservation District Supervisor candidates are Frank Naab and Aimee Figgatt. For Surveyor, the candidates are Bob Gunnoe, Jeffery Snyder and Mark Shamblin.
In Boone County, incumbent Democrat County Clerk Gary Williams is running for re-election. He will be opposed by fellow Democrat, Roger Toney. For County Commission, Democrat Craig Bratcher will meet GOP Delegate Nelson. Democrat Prosecuting Attorney Keith Randolph is
Squaring off for Sheriff on the Democrat side are former Sheriff and current Assessor Jennings Miller and incumbent Sheriff Randall White. The Republican is Derek Angel. Assessor candidates are Susan Baisden and Scotty Cook, both Democrats.
Neil Byrnside will challenge incumbent Magistrate Porter Snodgrass in Division One. Sam Burns and Danny Moore are running in Division Two. Surveyor candidates are Kenneth Bias and Johnny McClure.
Incumbent Democrat Sue Ann Zickefoose is unopposed for Circuit Clerk. There are four candidates for Board of Education: Charles Gibson, Susan Kimbler, Jenni Nelson and Gary Woodrum. Grady Hayner and Reggie Woodrum are running for Conservation District Supervisor.
In Lincoln County, Clerk Direl Baker will be challenged in the primary by Ollie Hunting. For County Commissioner, Democrats are Nick Blair and incumbent Charles Vance. Democrat Jim Gabehart is unopposed for Prosecutor.
Incumbent Democrat Sheriff Ken Farley will meet Tim Pullen in the primary with Republican Gary Linville waiting in the wings. Appointed Democrat Assessor Guy Browning is unopposed for his office.
Six candidates have lined up trying to replace retiring Magistrate Mona Snodgrass in Division One. They are Kay Adkins, Kim Clayton, Tina Humphries, Jamie Messer, Lisa Ramey and Roger Smith. In Division Two, incumbent Sophia Tulley is unopposed.
Incumbent Circuit Clerk Charles Brumfield will face fellow Democrat Jereme Browning in the primary. There are five candidates for Board of Education: Terry Brumfield, Ed Rabel, Carol Smith, David Webb and Larry Wilkerson. Conservation District Supervisor contenders are Alan Boone and John Thompson.
Incumbent Democrat County Clerk John Turner is unopposed in Logan County. Incumbent Democrat County Commissioner Danny Ellis faces Sherman Grimmett and Joshua Lyall in the primary. Democrat Prosecutor John Bennett is unopposed as well as is Sheriff Sonya Porter and Assessor Harold Porter.
Steven Gray, Joe Mendez and Estel Murray are candidates for Magistrate in Division One. Incumbents Dwight Williamson and Leonard Codispoti are unopposed in Division Two and Three, respectively.
Tommy Kirk will challenge Mark McGrew for the Democrat nomination for Circuit Clerk. There are ten candidates for the School Board: Darrell Bias, T.J. Blevins, Moss Burgess, Jeremy Farley, George Howes, Roy Lambert, Larry Rogers, Stepen Stapleton, Jackson Traylor and Ed White.
George Mathis is the lone candidate for Conservation District Supervisor.
In Mingo County, incumbent County Clerk is being challenged in the Democrat primary by Yogi Croaff. Democrat incumbent County Commissioner John Mark Hubbard will meet Thomas Taylor in the primary.
Two Democrats will square off for Prosecutor: incumbent Teresa Maynard and Duke Jewell. Three Democrats are running for Sheriff: incumbent James Smith, Barry Blair and Earl Spence. Republican Marty Fortner is also campaigning.
Assessor candidates are Democrats Amber Bishop and incumbent Ramona Mahon. For Magistrate, Division One features Brock Mounts, Donald Sansom and Billy Sexton. Division Two candidates are James Fugett, Dave Justice and Barry Marcum. In Division Three, incumbent Jim Harvey faces Scott Smith and Donald Stevens.
Running for Surveyor is Jimmy Webb. For Circuit Clerk, the candidates are Democrats Brandy Haney, Lonnie Hannah and Billy Sammons. Incumbent Democrat Grant Preece is retiring.
Board of Education candidates are Donnie Canterbury, James Farley, Larry Ferguson, Sabrina Grace and Nathan Hatfield.
Deadline to register for the 2016 primary is April 19. Early voting begins April 27. The primary will be held on Tuesday, May 10.