W.Va. Eastern Panhandle residents tossing hat in the ring for statewide offices

January 12, 2012|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD |

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — The field of candidates who have filed for statewide office in West Virginia’s May 8 primary includes an increasing number of Eastern Panhandle residents.

Former Del. Larry V. Faircloth, a Republican from Berkeley County, filed for state auditor on Thursday, joining 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge John Yoder of Harpers Ferry, W.Va., who filed Wednesday for the Supreme Court of Appeals and former Del. Bob Tabb, D-Jefferson, who filed Monday for commissioner of agriculture, according to Secretary of State Natalie Tennant’s office.

Fellow 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge Christopher C. Wilkes, who filed as a pre-candidate for the 2012 election in December, also is expected to join Yoder in the state Supreme Court race.

Others who filed Thursday for statewide office include West Virginia industrialist John Raese, who is seeking a rematch with U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin.

Manchin beat Raese by 10 percentage points in a 2010 special election triggered by the death of Robert C. Byrd, according to The Associated Press.

Their race drew national attention, among a handful of Senate contests that year. With Manchin completing the term left by Byrd, this year’s election is for a full, six-year term.

Manchin has not yet filed in West Virginia. But the Democrat’s latest Federal Election Commission finance report shows a $1.6 million campaign balance as of Sept. 30.

Raese’s 2010 campaign has $1.39 million in debts, his report shows. Raese self-funded that effort with more than $3 million.

Thursday’s filing marks Raese’s fourth Senate bid. He also ran for governor in 1988.

Raese flew into Charleston, W.Va., for Thursday’s filing on his company plane, which arrived from Palm Beach, Fla., after being in Morgantown, W.Va., earlier in the day, according to the aviation tracking website Raese’s wife, Liz, accompanied him at the state Capitol filing.

The couple owns a mansion in Palm Beach, and Democrats sought to hammer Raese over his residency status in 2010. He is registered to vote in West Virginia and has repeatedly said he lives in Morgantown.

Newt Gingrich also filed Thursday for West Virginia’s presidential primary.

Eastern Panhandle residents who have filed for a seat in the state Legislature as of Thursday included: Democrats Herb Snyder and Stephen Skinner of Shenandoah Junction, W.Va.; Tiffany Lawrence of Charles Town; and Republicans Eric L. Householder of Martinsburg and Paul Espinosa of Charles Town.

 Snyder is seeking re-election to the state Senate in the 16th District, which includes all of Jefferson and part of Berkeley County.

Householder and Lawrence are seeking re-election to the House of Delegates in the newly drawn 64th and 65th districts in Berkeley and Jefferson County, respectively.

Espinosa and Skinner are seeking election in the 66th and 67th House districts in Jefferson County.

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