It’s Jim Justice vs. Ben Salango for W.Va. governor

CHARLESTON — Kanawha County Commissioner Ben Salango won the Democratic nomination for governor of West Virginia on Tuesday, setting up a November showdown with incumbent Republican Gov. Jim Justice.

Salango narrowly defeated progressive community organizer Stephen Smith to win the Democratic nomination. Justice, a billionaire coal and agricultural businessman, trounced Woody Thrasher, former state lawmaker Mike Folk and others to win the GOP nomination.

As a commissioner of the state’s most populated county, Salango had emphasized his experience in government throughout his campaign, which has pulled in endorsements from organized labor, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin and former Gov. Gaston Caperton.

“This is the first step. Tomorrow morning we start working on the general,” Salango said as he declared victory at his Charleston campaign headquarters.

Justice made President Donald Trump a centerpiece of his re-election bid, frequently name-dropping the president in campaign ads and during his daily coronavirus news conferences that were watched by thousands of people.

In other races around West Virginia:


William “Bill” Wooton will join the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, while incumbent Justices Tim Armstead and John Hutchison will retain their seats on the bench.

Armstead was elected to a full, 12-year term on the court, while Hutchison will keep his appointed seat until 2024, when he would have to face re-election.

The winners of Tuesday’s Supreme Court elections will not have to worry about the Nov. 3 general election, as the primary election serves as the one and only election for judicial candidates.


Republican Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is seeking a third term as the state’s top attorney and had no challengers Tuesday. He will face Fayette County-based public interest attorney Sam Brown Petsonk in the Nov. 3 general election.

According to unofficial results from the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office, Petsonk received 54 percent of the vote as of press time. Petsonk’s challenger, Pendleton County Delegate Isaac Sponaugle, received 46 percent of the vote.

“We’re feeling very, very positive,” Petsonk said by phone Tuesday night while driving to Charleston. “When people learn about who I am and what I believe, what I’ve achieved, and what I aim to do for the people of West Virginia, you’ll see that kind of support statewide across the board through November.”


Incumbent Shelley Moore Capito easily won a three-way GOP primary race for a U.S. Senate seat from West Virginia. She will face Paula Jean Swearengin, who came out on top on the Democratic side Tuesday.

Capito breezed past Family Policy Council of West Virginia President Allen Whitt and former craftsman Larry Butcher, while Swearengin bested former state Sen. Richard Ojeda and former South Charleston Mayor Richie Robb.

In West Virginia’s 1st District House of Representatives race, Democrat Natalie Cline of Wheeling will challenge U.S. Rep. David McKinley, also of Wheeling in November. McKinley was unopposed in the GOP primary for the seat.

Cline came out on top over attorney Tom Payne, garnering almost 75 percent of the vote as of early today, with all but three counties reporting.


Incumbent Pat McGeehan and former delegate Mark Zatezalo, both Republicans, along with Democrats Jack Wood, former delegate Ronnie D. Jones and Roger “Buddy” Stewart faced off in the hope of representing the 1st House District, which includes Hancock County and a portion of Brooke County.

Incumbent Randy Swartzmiller, a Democrat, opted to step away from the House of Delegates this year to seek a seat in the state Senate.

The top two candidates on each side of the ballot move on to November’s general election.

Jones, of Weirton, received 2,284 votes from residents of the 1st District, according to preliminary results Tuesday night, with Wood of Weirton with 2,246 and Stewart of New Cumberland receiving 1,290.

In the 2nd District House race, both Democratic incumbent Phil Diserio and Republican Gordon K. Greer were unopposed in their respective campaigns.

Both will move on to the November general election.

In the 1st Senate District, Republican incumbent Ryan Weld was leading challenger Jack Newbrough of Weirton with 85 of 89 precincts counted. Weld’s totals showed 6,755 votes; and Newbrough’s, 3,762.

Weld, 40, was elected to the Senate in 2016, and is completing his first four-year term in the chamber this year.

Weld will face Swartzmiller in the November general election.

“I’m very excited by tonight’s results,” Weld said. “I am honored and humbled to have my party’s support as we move forward to November.

“I’m ready to go right now, to start working hard, and to connect with voters like I did in 2016. I want to show them the hard work I’ve already put in, and what I plan to do next as their state senator.”


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *


Starting at $4.73/week.

Subscribe Today