Gov. Jim Justice appoints Baptist pastor to empty House seat

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice has appointed a Baptist pastor to fill an empty House seat.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports the Republican governor appointed 59-year-old Kevin Bartlett to the seat on Monday. Bartlett says his legislative priorities are, in order, anti-abortion policy, protecting the Second Amendment and creating job opportunities in the state.

The senior Maranatha Baptist Church pastor will finish out the term of Republican Del. Sharon Lewis Malcolm, who died last month. For the past 35 years, Bartlett has worked at the church his father founded in 1969. He initially started as an associate pastor after graduating from the former Tennessee Temple University.

Bartlett says he plans to run for a full term next year. Three other candidates already have filed preliminary paperwork to run for the seat.

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