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Pre-candidacy filings – Nov. 10-22

I apologize for the extreme delay in this update. I’ve been busy helping cover the Don Blankenship trial so I haven’t had much time to do the latest pre-candidacy filings. You can find the 2016 Election Guide here.

I’ve updated the guide with the latest filings (see below) and, thanks to a suggestion by my colleague, Dan Desrochers, I’ve changed the colors of each district.

Now there are three colors, depending on who is representing each district. If Democrats have a majority (in terms of who is currently in office) in the district, it is shaded blue. If Republicans have a majority, it is shaded red. And if there is an even split, the district is shaded purple.

On the Senate map, I’ve added both incumbents and what year they are up for re-election (ie 2016 or 2018). Everyone in the House is up for re-election in 2016.

And now, here are your latest filings:

House of Delegates

  • Anne Dandelet (Huntington) is the latest Republican to join the race in District 17. She and Jarred Cannon (Huntington) are joining fellow Republican Delegate Matthew Rohrbach in hopes of taking away a seat currently held by Democrat Doug Reynolds, who has not filed his pre-candidacy papers yet. For the Democrats, Chad Lovejoy and Joe Fincham (both of Huntington) have filed their pre-candidacy papers.
  • Sheldon Harmon (Wayne) became the third potential Republican candidate to enter the race in District 19. John Creamer (Huntington) and Henry Dillon (Kenova), who are both Republicans, already filed their paperwork, while Delegates Ken Hicks and Don Perdue (both Democrats) have yet to indicate their intentions for 2016.
  • Republican Delegate Ray Canterbury (Ronceverte) filed his paperwork to run again in District 42. Canterbury along with  George Ambler – also a Republican – are the incumbents. Ambler previously filed his pre-candidacy papers. The only other person to file paperwork in the district is Democrat Stephen Baldwin Jr (Ronceverte).
  • Republican Moore Capito (Charleston), who is U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito’s son, is joining an ever crowding race to represent District 35. The district is currently currently represented by Democrat Andrew Byrd and Republicans John B. McCuskey, Eric Nelson and Chris Stansbury. Stansbury is running for the 17 District of the state Senate – a seat which is currently occupied by Democrat Corey Palumbo, who recently announced his intentions to run for re-election. McCuskey is running for state auditor. Nelson has already filed pre-candidacy papers to run for re-election, while Byrd has not. Others to file their pre-candidacy papers include: Democrat Benjamin Adams (Charleston) and Republicans Matt Kelly and Lance Wheeler (both of St. Albans), and Keith Alan Pauley (Charleston).
  • Two new Republicans, Ray Hollen (Mineral Wells) and Angela Summers (Washington) entered the race in District 9, when they recently filed their paperwork. Incumbent Republican Anna Border-Sheppard has yet to file any paperwork for 2016. No other candidates have filed yet.
  • Republican Zachery Maynard (Harts) filed his paperwork to run in District 22. The district is currently represented by Michel Moffatt, who has filed to run for re-election. Democrat William Holstein has filed his pre-candidacy papers as well.


  • William G. Hartman – Elkins, Democrat


  • Mahmood Ahmed (Charleston, Circuit Court Judge, 10th Circuit)
  • Scott Andrews (Huntington, Circuit Court Judge)
  • Thomas Bedell (Bridgeport, Circuit Court Judge)
  • David Janes (Fairmont, Circuit Court Judge)
  • Ronald Salmons (West Hamlin, Family Court Judge, 10th Circuit, Division 2)

There are 169 days until West Virginia’s Primary Election and as the countdown continues, gubernatorial candidate Jim Justice keeps spending money on TV ads.

Justice has bought another round of 30-second spots to run on stations throughout the state between now and December 1.

The Democratic candidate, who is running against state Senator Jeff Kessler, has scaled back his TV buys a bit lately.

In his first two weeks of running ads, Justice was spending about $50,000 a week on ads.

But for the week that began on Nov. 4, Justice began spending less. That week, he paid almost $3,600 for 185 ads.

According to the latest FCC filings, Justice spent $33,440 on 172 ads that ran Nov. 18 – 24.

And between Nov. 25 and Dec. 1, Justice spent $32,680 on 160 ads.

That brings the billionaire’s grand total to about $311,000 on more than 1,600 ads since he began running them on Oct. 14.

That comes to about $6,485 a day.

If Justice keeps pace with his past practices, he will have spent just over $1.3 million on TV ads between when he first started running ads and next year’s May 10 Primary Election.

As of this writing, no other gubernatorial candidate in West Virginia has spent money on TV ads.

Drug seizures in unincorporated counties

Since August 30, the Kanawha County Sheriff’s department has made 54 drug seizures. Most of this is small stuff, a few grams of pot here or there, a few pills of a prescription drug, but they’ve also made some big busts, like finding 12 pounds of marijuana and 32 marijuana plants the week of September 27, or the 99 grams of opium they found the week of October 25.

These busts, both big and small, help to illustrate a picture of what drugs people are taking in Kanawha County. Granted, this doesn’t include any of the major cities, so we’re talking about the small, unincorporated areas of the county, but hey, data is data so here goes:

Out of the 54 seizures the Kanawha County Sheriff has made, the most have been marijuana. In fact, since August 30, the Kanawha County Sheriff has not gone a week without making a marijuana seizure.

There could be a lot of explanations for this. Marijuana is easily the most popular drug in America (we’re not counting alcohol here), with 19.8 million Americans saying that they used it in the past month according to a 2013 National Institute of Drug Abuse survey.

Here’s a chart that breaks down the type of drug the Kanawha County Sheriff has seized (out of 54 seizures) since August 30.

What’s notable is the seizures of the other, harder drugs. We’re in the midst of an opioid epidemic in West Virginia, yet prescription drugs only accounted for 18.9 percent of seizures and most of them weren’t prescription painkillers. The most common prescription drug that was seized was Xanax, the anti-anxiety medication. Oxycodone, a common painkiller, was only seized once (although it was $90 worth of the drug).

As the state has started to crackdown on prescription painkillers, experts have noted a spike in heroin use. The data can’t really back that up. While there have been more heroin seizures in the past two weeks, that’s not nearly enough to illustrate a trend. Over the past few months, heroin is still only the fourth most commonly seized drug.

Here’s the chart for the seizures this past week. I’ll be posting a chart like this every week, and hopefully marking trends that start to form as more data comes in.

Drug Quantity Measure Estimated Value ($)
Amphetamines/Meth 9.56 GM 1,550
Heroin 4 DU 130
Heroin 0.5 GM 50
Heroin Tar 0.8 GM 200
Marijuana 1 DU
Marijuana 21.75 GM 185
Tan Yellow Pill 2 DU 100
Total 2,215

KEY: GM = gram, DU = dosage unit (think a joint of marijuana)

Pre-candidacy filings – Nov. 1-9

A whole bunch of pre-candidacy filings last week as November began.

Here’s the latest roundup of the newest pre-candidacy filings that were submitted with the secretary of state’s office since I last updated the 2016 Election Guide. You can find the guide here.

House of Delegates

  • Samantha Fooce (Point Pleasant) became the first Democrat to file to run in District 14, which is currently represented by Republican Jim Butler, who previously filed pre-candidacy papers to run for re-election. No other Republicans have filed in the race.
  • Republican Jarred Cannon (Huntington) filed paperwork seeking to run in District 17. He became the first non-incumbent Republican to file. Democrats Chad Lovejoy and Joe Fincham (both of Huntington) previously filed papers to run, while fellow Dem Doug Reynolds, one of two incumbents, has yet to file his papers. Incumbent Republican Matthew Rohrbach previously filed his pre-candidacy papers.
  • The race for District 19 got a bit more crowded this week after Henry Dillon of Kenova filed his papers to run as a Republican. He joins John Creamer of Huntington as the only GOP members to file so far. Incumbent Dems Ken Hicks and Don Perdue have yet to file their paperwork.
  • Republican Sam Freeman (Gary) joined Brian Harrison (Paynesville) as the Republicans seeking to grab control of District 26. Democrat Clif Moore currently represents the district but yet has yet to file his papers. Two Democrats – Scotty Ray Hagerman (Warriormine) and Robert Rocky Seay (Princeton) – have already filed pre-candidacy papers.
  • Charleston resident Benjamin Adams (Democrat) entered the race in District 35, which is currently represented by Democrat Andrew Byrd and Republicans John B. McCuskey, Eric Nelson and Chris Stansbury. The district’s representation will definitely change, as Stansbury is running for the 17 District of the state Senate – a seat which is currently occupied by Democrat Corey Palumbo, who recently announced his intentions to run for re-election. McCuskey is running for state auditor. Nelson has already filed pre-candidacy papers to run for re-election, while Byrd has not. Beyond Adams, three Republicans have also filed their paperwork. They include Matt Kelly and Lance Wheeler, both of St. Albans, and Keith Alan Pauley of Charleston.
  • The race for District 51 got even more crowded after Democrats Evan Hansen, John Lucas (both of Morgantown) and Barry Wendell (Fairmont) joined the already large field of potential candidates. As of today, seven Democrats have filed pre-candidacy papers for a district that has five seats. They include Democrat Barbara Evans Fleischauer, who is running for re-election. The other Dems to previously file are John R. Williams, Michael Wolfe and James Merrill – all of Morgantown. On the Republican side of the race, only one non-incumbent candidate has filed – Eric T.R. Finch of Fairview. Incumbents Brian Kurchaba and Joe Statler have filed re-election paperwork, while Cindy Frich and Amanda Pasdon have yet to do so.
  • Although he has yet to indicate which office he will seek, incumbent Republican Larry Faircloth could face two new challengers in the District 60 race. Last week Gary W. Kelley (Martinsburg), also a Republican, filed his papers. Prior to that, Republican Stephen Marshall Wilson (Hedgesville) filed his papers.

State Senate

  • Jordan Ray Bridges (Logan) became the second Republican to enter the race in District 7, which is currently represented by Democrat Art Kirkendoll, who has filed his pre-candidacy papers to run for re-election. Republican Gary Johngrass of Branchland previously filed his paperwork.


  • Lora Dyer (Walton, Circuit Court Judge, 5th Circuit)

A look at population numbers in West Virginia

In my story this week, Tom Bloom, the president of the Monongalia County Commission, mentioned that the southern counties in the state are trying to stifle the growth of the northern counties, rather than support them, citing the smaller counties’ opposition to enacting home rule.

Home rule is just a microcosm of a larger trend dividing counties in this state, population growth.

Since 1980, Kanawha County has seen steady decline in population from its peak in 1960. Every county surrounding Kanawha, with the exception of Putnam, has seen similar decline.

Kanawha County’s population decline matches that of West Virginia, as well. While the state’s population has remained relatively steady over the past four years, it has seen an overall trend of decline. It’s also the only state in the union that has seen an overall decline in population since 1950.

Monongalia County, on the other hand, has seen tremendous growth over the past four years.

Take a look at this graph that tracks the percent change of the population since 2010. You can see the vast difference between the trend in Monongalia County versus Kanawha County and the state.

What does all this mean?

Well, almost every county government in this state is structured the same way, with the same revenue sources (coal severance tax and property tax). So for a county that’s seeing unprecedented growth while watching its budget fall as revenue from the coal severance tax falls, the budget limitations can be maddening. That’s leading to some contention between declining and growing counties as to which policies are best for the future of the state.

Correction: When I first wrote this story, I mentioned that the north was seeing growth in population. It has been pointed out to me, that this isn’t exactly true. While Monongalia county and a few of the counties surrounding it have seen some growth, for the most part, the north is matching the same trends of the rest of the state and declining in population. Basically this is a county issue, not a north vs. south issue. 


New ad buy pushes Justice TV spending to $207,000

Another week and another ad from Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jim Justice.

As previously reported, Justice spent $80,000 to air 453+ 30-second spots, highlighting his ownership of The Greenbrier Resort, on TV stations across West Virginia.

Someone told me to go back and look for one more station, so I did and discovered Justice spent even more than I previously reported for ads to run between October 14 and October 27.

At the time I didn’t have the $21,770 the campaign spent for 119 ads to run on WHAG.

That pushed the campaign’s total spent from Oct. 14-27 to $102,761 for 572 ads.

Justice’s newest 30-second ad is called Coal Man. It was posted on YouTube last week and began airing at the tail end of October.

For his latest ad buy, Justice spent $104,445 to run 490+ ads on 8 different TV stations in West Virginia.

As was the case with the campaign’s previous ad buy, WOWK did not have the total number of ads the candidate purchased listed in their political file. So the 490 will undoubtedly increase but there is no way of knowing by how much.

The latest totals reveal Justice’s campaign has spent $207,206 to run more than 1,062 ads since October 14.

Here are the grand totals of ads aired by station:

  1. 240 – WHAG (Hagerstown, Maryland/NBC)
  2. 188 – WBOY (Clarksburg/NBC)
  3. 162 – WDTV (Weston-Clarksburg-Fairmont/CBS)
  4. 135 – WSAZ (Charleston-Huntington/NBC)
  5. 112 – WTRF (Wheeling/CBS)
  6. 104 – WCHS (Charleston-Huntington/ABC)
  7. 75 – WVVA (Beckley-Bluefield/NBC)
  8. 26 – WVFX (Clarksburg/FOX)
  9. 20 – WQCW (Charleston-Huntington/CW)

Again it should be noted that WOWK is not on this list because they do not have the total number of ads posted in their political file.

And a breakdown of the amount spent at each station:

  1. $57, 600 – WSAZ
  2. $46,990 – WBOY
  3. $43,660 – WHAG
  4. $17,875 – WCHS
  5. $12,440 – WDTV
  6. $10,535 – WVVA
  7. $7,140 – WOWK
  8. $6,698 – WTRF
  9. $3,000 – WQCW
  10. $1,268 – WVFX

It should be noted that no other gubernatorial candidate has purchased any ads so far this year.