Doyle faces challenge from Rea in 57th District House race

May 06, 2010|By RICHARD F. BELISLE
  • Lori Rea

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - It will take two primaries, on May 11 and the Nov. 2 general election, before 57th District voters know who will represent them in the West Virginia House of Delegates for the next two years.

Delegates earn $20,000 a year.

Two Democrats, longtime incumbent John Doyle and political newcomer Lori Rea, and two Republicans, Elliot Simon of Harpers Ferry and Shepherd University freshman Donny Jones, will face off in their respective party primaries.

Geographically, the 57th District, according to Doyle, generally runs north of W.Va. 9 from the Virginia line on Blue Ridge Mountain to Jefferson County's border with Berkeley County.

When the 57th District was created following the 2000 Census it had a population of 17,200. Today, Doyle said, it has 21,500 residents.

The Democratic candidates are profiled today. The Republican candidates were profiled earlier. If you missed any of our election profiles, go to and click on Tristate elections.


The candidates:

John Doyle

John Doyle, 68, of Shepherdstown, a retired real estate agent, has served in the House since 1992. Before that his political career was uneven, beginning in 1978 when he made his first run and lost. He lost again in 1980 but won his first term in 1982, only to lose again two years later.

His closest contest was in 2004 when he beat Bob Tabb by only three votes.

Doyle is in a serious primary race this year defending his seat against Rea, who claims he is an ineffective legislature who only managed to get one bill passed in the current term.

"What's her evidence," said Doyle in a recent campaign newspaper ad. "That 'evidence' is so flimsy it's absurd. We thought the primary reason legislators were sent to the state capitol was to evaluate all ideas, not focus on passing only their own bills."

Sometimes bills are combined, Doyle said, carrying only the name of their sponsor.

According to his campaign literature, Doyle is recognized in the House for his expertise in land use, higher education and tax reform issues. He holds four town meetings a year to learn constituents' views on legislative issues.

In 2007, Doyle worked to defeat Penn National Gaming's plan to add table games at Charles Town Races & Slots. Defeating the referendum, he said at the time, would give legislators another opportunity to raise the percentage of the games' revenue to Jefferson County schools and governments.

Two years later, the revenue percentage doubled, the games passed in a landslide vote.

In recent legislative actions, Doyle fought for a bill that makes it harder for power companies to build high-tension power lines and supported a bill showing how much higher housing costs are in the Eastern Panhandle that elsewhere in the state. That bill paves the way for higher wages for Panhandle school and state employees, he said.

Doyle said if the voters send him back to Charleston, W.Va., he would continue to work to find money to build a parking garage on the Shepherd University campus. He will continue working on a bill banning job discrimination based on sexual preference. "It hasn't passed because bigotry still exists," he said.

Doyle's campaign website is

Lori Rea

Lori Rea, 57, also of Shepherdstown, is the executive director of the Gateway New Economy Council, a group that supported table games in the 2009 referendum.

Rea said her professional experience, according to campaign literature, includes community development specialist with Region 9 Planning & Development Council, former owner of the Thomas Shepherd Inn, a bed & breakfast in Shepherdstown, director of sales for a digital firm and president of IntelliSys Automotive Systems and Tri-State Business Systems Inc.

She said she is a representative of the Berkeley County Chamber of Commerce, and member of the governmental Affairs Federal Delegation and Jefferson County Democratic Association.

Rea was a registered Republican in July 2009 when she changed her affiliation to Democrat, according Jefferson County voter records.

Rea explained in a recent telephone interview that she changed her registration to Republican in 2008 "so I could vote for a friend in a Republican primary. I was always a Democrat before that," she said.

Rea said her experience in the business world gives her a stronger voice in creating jobs, growing businesses, improving education and protecting history and culture.

She opposes a gasoline tax and favors raising the Homestead Exemption. "I've worked hard to become a respected voice, will look after the welfare of our citizens and will serve them with professionalism, pride and passion," Rea said in her campaign literature.

Rea's campaign website is

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