No. 3: GOP makes gains in WV politics - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

No. 3: GOP makes gains in WV politics

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2012 may just be the year of the Republicans, at least in West Virginia.

Although the state's registered voters are overwhelmingly Democrats, Republicans still made some gains in the 2012 general election, specifically Attorney General-elect Patrick Morrisey and the state's newest Supreme Court Justice Allen Loughry.

Morrisey, a health care lawyer from the Eastern Panhandle, ousted longtime Attorney General Darrell McGraw by about 1,300 votes. Morrisey vowed the state would fight back against the Obama administration's overreaching Environmental Protection Agency and Affordable Care Act.

"For too long, this state has been under attack from the Environmental Protection Agency and overreaching laws and regulations, such as Obamacare," Morrisey said in a post-election statement. "These Obama policies have harmed West Virginia. It's now time for West Virginia's attorney general to fight back."

McGraw was elected to his first term as attorney general in 1992. He  is wrapping up his fifth term. 

The 2012 election wasn't the first close election McGraw has faced. In 2008, McGraw beat Republican challenger Dan Greear with 50.39 percent of the votes.

In 2004, McGraw won against challenger Hiram Lewis by about 6,000 votes.

The 1996 and 1992 elections also were close with McGraw winning by 51.1 percent and 51.6 percent of the votes respectively.

Meanwhile, Loughry's victory seemed to take some by surprise. Loughry wanted to participate in the state's public finance pilot program, but the Supreme Court challenged the matching funds provision of that project. Loughry filed petition with the court to force the State Election Commission to release public funds to his campaign. Elections watchers said this brought free attention to Loughry's campaign, and also made him seem more relatable to the average voter.

The GOP also made gains in the Legislature. The House of Delegates will see 11 new Republicans when the session starts in February, while the Republicans gained eight seats in the Senate. This means the Republicans hold more seats in the House of Delegates than at any time since the 1930s.

Although the 2012 election just wrapped up, some members of the Republican Party have already set sights on 2014. Just a week after the election, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican who represents West Virginia's 2nd Congressional District, announced she will run for the U.S. Senate in 2014, presumably challenging longtime Sen. Jay Rockefeller. According to what was then hypothetical polling, a West Virginia-based poll released over the summer found Capito would win a Senatorial contest against Rockefeller by about 4 percentage points, with 8 percent of voters undecided.