Ap Decision Notes: What To Expect In West Virginia's Primaries

FILE - Rep. Alex Mooney, a Republican candidate for U.S. Representative for West Virginia's 2nd Congressional District, addresses a campaign rally at the Westmoreland Fair Grounds in Greensburg, Pa, on May 6, 2022. Mooney has won the Republican nomination for one of West Virginia's two seats in the U.S. House. Former President Donald Trump had endorsed Mooney. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)
FILE - Rep. Alex Mooney, a Republican candidate for U.S. Representative for West Virginia's 2nd Congressional District, addresses a campaign rally at the Westmoreland Fair Grounds in Greensburg, Pa, on May 6, 2022. Mooney has won the Republican nomination for one of West Virginia's two seats in the U.S. House. Former President Donald Trump had endorsed Mooney. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican Gov. Jim Justice, who’s running for Senate, is just one of a handful of high flyers in West Virginia who decided it was time for a change of pace.

A former billionaire who owns the Greenbrier Resort, Justice is ineligible to run for reelection in West Virginia due to term limits. So, Justice set his sights on Washington, where Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin was facing his toughest race yet in a state that former President Donald Trump last won by about 40 points.

Justice, a former Democrat, switched to the Republican Party in 2017, making the announcement at a Trump rally in Huntington, West Virginia.

Instead of attempting to run for another term in Trump country, Manchin decided to pass, adding another open seat to the map in which the Republican nominee will be the heavy favorite in the fall.

In the race for the GOP nomination for Senate, Justice is the front-runner. His top competitor is Rep. Alex Mooney, though five other Republicans are running as well.

Don Blankenship, who was convicted of violating safety standards after 29 people died in a 2010 coal mine explosion, is running for the Senate as a Democrat, even though he ran as a Republican in the 2018 Senate race. Blankenship faces Wheeling Mayor Glenn Elliott, who has Manchin’s endorsement, and Marine Corps veteran Zach Shrewsbury, who has support from the Progressive Democrats of America.

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, the Republican nominee in the 2018 Senate race against Manchin, is running for governor, as are the sons of two members of West Virginia’s congressional delegation: car dealer Chris Miller, whose mother is Rep. Carol Miller, and former state Rep. Moore Capito, whose mother is Sen. Shelley Moore Capito and whose grandfather is the late Gov. Arch A. Moore Jr..

West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner is running for governor, as well. Two lesser-known candidates — Kevin Christian and Mitch Roberts — will also appear on the GOP ballot. On the Democratic side, Huntington Mayor Steve Williams is unopposed.

Mooney’s pursuit of the open Senate seat means he’s leaving a Republican-leaning district open, prompting a competitive primary for his U.S. House seat. State Treasurer Riley Moore won early endorsements from then-House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and from Mooney himself. Speaker Mike Johnson has also endorsed Moore. Moore is one of five Republicans running to replace Mooney, though retired Air Force Brigadier General Chris “Mookie” Walker is the only one who has come close to keeping pace with Moore on fundraising.

In the 1st District, Derrick Evans, a former member of the House of Delegates who served a three-month sentence after livestreaming himself participating in the Jan. 6, 2021, storming of the U.S. Capitol, is running against incumbent Carol Miller.

The least competitive races of the bunch might be the presidential primaries, which Trump and President Joe Biden are expected to win easily.

Here’s a look at what to expect on Tuesday.


West Virginia’s primary election will be held Tuesday. Polls close at 7:30 p.m. ET.


The Associated Press will provide coverage for 61 races, including the presidential primary. Four candidates, including former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, join Trump on the Republican presidential ballot. On the Democratic ballot, Biden’s name appears along with four others. There is no “uncommitted” or write-in option on the presidential ballot.

In addition to the open seats for governor, U.S. Senate race, and the 2nd Congressional District, West Virginia is holding primaries for multiple statewide offices, including secretary of state, state auditor, state treasurer, commissioner of agriculture, and attorney general.


Registered Democrats may only vote in the Democratic primary, and registered Republicans may only vote in the Republican primary. Independent or unaffiliated voters may participate in either primary. Voters who registered with a party that is not officially recognized by the state may also vote in either primary.


West Virginia’s 20 pledged Democratic delegates are allocated according to the national party’s standard rules. Four at-large delegates are allocated in proportion to the statewide vote, as are three PLEO delegates, or “party leaders and elected officials.” The state’s two congressional districts have a combined 13 delegates at stake, which are allocated in proportion to the vote results in each district. Candidates must receive at least 15% of the statewide vote to qualify for any statewide delegates, and 15% of the vote in a congressional district to qualify for delegates in that district.

There are 32 delegates at stake in the Republican presidential primary, all of which will go to the winner.


Justice, a popular governor who was endorsed by Manchin in 2016 before Justice's party switch led to a falling out between the pair, is favored to win the Republican nomination for the Senate. To have a shot at beating him, Mooney would probably have to rack up high numbers in his own 2nd congressional district.

The governor’s race, meanwhile, has become a messy messaging war as the candidates vie for the state's conservative base, with Morrisey having spent most on the race as of the latest filing deadline, followed by Capito and Miller. All four of the top candidates have some sort of statewide appeal, since two currently hold statewide office and the others have famous last names.

Capito had represented Kanawha County for about seven years when he resigned in December to focus on his campaign for governor, and may be able to count on a small pocket of votes in the Charleston-based county.

On the Democratic side, Elliott’s endorsement from Manchin, a longtime fixture in West Virginia politics, could help boost him in the primary. Blankenship, meanwhile, has spent more than $100,000 on broadcast campaign ads, including a slate of ads in which he speaks directly to the camera, arguing that independents should vote for him. And Shrewsbury, who is running as the most progressive candidate with a working-class focus, has been the top spender in the race.

The AP does not make projections and will declare a winner only when it’s determined there is no scenario that would allow the trailing candidates to close the gap. If a race has not been called, the AP will continue to cover any newsworthy developments, such as candidate concessions or declarations of victory. In doing so, the AP will make clear that it has not yet declared a winner and explain why.


As of March 31, there were 1,172,783 registered voters in West Virginia. Of those, 31% were Democrats and 40% were Republicans.

In the 2020 primaries, turnout was 15% of registered voters in the Democratic primary and 17% on the Republican side.

As of May 9, a total of 55,358 ballots had been cast before Election Day.


In the 2022 election, the AP first reported results at about 7:40 p.m. ET, or 10 minutes after polls closed. The election night tabulation ended at about 11:20 p.m. ET with about 87% of total votes counted.