Dave Mistich Published

Five Ways the West Virginia GOP Made History in the 2014 Election


The story of the 2014 Midterm Elections in West Virginia is all about the Republican Party.

Calling Tuesday’s election a statement that the President’s polices were on the ballot, Republicans won big in federal races and dramatically shifted the power of the state legislature.

Here are the five biggest stories of the night:

1. The House of Delegates is now in the hands of the GOP for the first time in 83 years.

The state Republican Party’s main focus this year was changing the balance of power in the House of Delegates. Running on a campaign of “83 years is enough” and pointing to the longtime control of Democrats, the GOP pulled 64 of 100 seats in the state legislature’s lower house. 

Now, a new race is on: one for Speaker of the House.

2. (Updated) After the election, the Senate was split down the middle. But, Senator Daniel Hall switched parties on Wednesday. 

Republicans picked up 11 of 17 State Senate seats up for grabs, including upsets of some notable Democratic incumbents like Mike Green, Erik Wells, and Greg Tucker.

But the big story is that–after Republican pickups pushed the Senate to a dead even tie–Senator Daniel Hall switched parties and became a Republican. 

The last time the Senate was split between parties, something strange happened

3. With Capito’s U.S. Senate win, she becomes West Virginia’s first female Senator and first Republican to hold a West Virginia Senate seat in nearly 60 years.

Rep. Shelley Moore Capito won big over Secretary of State Natalie Tennant with major news outlets calling the race in her favor only seconds after the polls closed. 

In her acceptance speech, Capito pointed to the notion that the President’s unpopular policies, particularly that of the EPA’s proposed limits on carbon emissions, helped fuel her win. 

4. West Virginia Republicans hold all seats in the U.S. House for the first time since 1921.

While the McKinley-Gainer race for the 1st Congressional District wasn’t even close, Republican wins in the 2nd and 3rd Districts were a bit of a surprise.

Former Maryland legislator Alex Mooney beat out former state Democratic Party Chair Nick Casey in the 2nd District. Mooney was criticized for being an outsider during the campaign, but managed to pull 47.1 percent of the vote, compared to Casey’s 43.9 percent share.

But the biggest story was Democrat-turned-Republican Evan Jenkins’ unseating of Rep. Nick Rahall in the 3rd Congressional District. Rahall had served southern West Virginia for 38 years and was heavily targeted by Republicans the past few elections.

5. 18-year-old Saira Blair will become the youngest state lawmaker in America.

After knocking out Republican incumbent Larry Kump in the May primary, Saria Blair pulled 63 percent of the vote Tuesday night to become West Virginia’s youngest lawmaker. In a Facebook post as her race was called, Blair told her followers “the path to prosperity and success is rooted in conservative values and principles.” 


Credit Cliff Owen / AP

She is the daughter of sitting State Senator Craig Blair. 

A freshmen at West Virginia University, the Saira Blair will became the state’s youngest legislator. Also, as NPR reports:

Mick Bullock, of the National Conference of State Legislatures, which keeps track of demographics, says their early research indicates that Blair is the youngest lawmaker in the country.