August 5, 1958: Jennings Randolph Defeats Former Gov. William Marland in Democratic Primary


 On August 5, 1958, Jennings Randolph defeated former Governor William Marland in a Democratic primary. The special election was part of a process to fill the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by the death of Matthew Neely. In the general election, Randolph beat incumbent Senator Chapman Revercomb, who had been appointed temporarily to fill Neely’s seat.

Jennings Randolph was one of the giants of West Virginia politics. He was the first mayor of the town of Salem and helped found Salem College, now Salem International University. He was first elected to Congress at age 30 during the Democratic landslide of 1932. A dyed-in-the-wool New Deal Democrat, he worked closely with the Roosevelt Administration and, in particular, with First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt in establishing the model town of Arthurdale in Preston County.

Randolph was re-elected to the House six times before losing in 1946. After rejoining Congress as a senator in 1959, he supported the Interstate Highway program and sponsored the constitutional amendment allowing 18-year-olds to vote.

Jennings Randolph was re-elected another four times to the Senate before retiring in 1985. He died in 1998 at age 96.