Romney carries W.Va. as other races are tallied

Associated Press Modified: November 7, 2012 at 12:00 am •  Published: November 6, 2012
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Sen. Walt Helmick, a Democrat, overcame Republican Kent Leonhardt to succeed retiring Agriculture Commissioner Gus Douglass.

Voters also awarded a pair of 12-year terms on the five-seat Supreme Court of Appeals. Justice Robin Davis, a Democrat, won re-election and was joined by Republican Allen Loughry, a longtime lawyer at the court. They outpaced Democrat Tish Chafin, a recent State Bar president, and Circuit Judge John Yoder, a Republican.

All three of West Virginia's incumbents in the U.S. House of Representatives prevailed. Freshman U.S. Rep. David McKinley defeated a low-funded Democratic challenger, Sue Thorn, in the 1st District. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito won a seventh term in the 2nd District, where Howard Swint was the Democrats' nominee. Both incumbents are Republicans, as is freshman Delegate Rick Snuffer. The Raleigh County legislator is challenging 3rd District Rep. Nick Rahall, a Democrat seeking a 19th term.

Democrats hold majorities in both chambers of the Legislature, but Republicans nearly erased their 15-seat margin in the House of Delegates.

With all 100 seats up for election, at least six Democratic incumbents fell to Republicans on Tuesday. Delegate Ron Fragale, D-Harrison and the House's president pro tempore, lost to Danny Hamrick. Delegate Stan Shaver was defeated by Randy Smith in Preston County, while Joshua Nelson unseated Delegate Larry Barker in Boone County. Delegate Helen Martin lost her Putnam County seat to Scott Cadle. In a redrawn, four-seat district representing Kanawha County, Suzette Raines and John McCuskey displaced Delegates Bobbie Hatfield and Bonnie Brown.

Republicans also captured another four open seats held by retiring Democrats: George "Boogie" Ambler of Greenbrier County, Roy Cooper of Summers County, John Shott of Mercer County and David Evans of Marshall County.

Former GOP Delegate Cindy Frich, meanwhile, will return to the House, after winning a new seat added to Monongalia County. But GOP Delegate Walter Duke fell to Democrat Jason Barrett in a Berkeley County House district.

With half of the 34-member Senate on the ballot, the GOP failed to field challengers to seven of the 11 incumbent Democrats running. Republican auto dealer Bill Cole won in a district dominated by Mercer County, upsetting Democratic Sen. Mark Wills. Another Republican, Chris Walters, bested Democrat Joshua Martin for a redrawn Senate seat representing Kanawha and Putnam counties that had been held by a Democrat.

Voters also rejected a proposed constitutional amendment that would repeal term limits for county sheriffs. While requiring a simple majority, previous attempts also failed in 1994, 1986 and 1982.

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Associated press writers Vicki Smith in Newburg and John Raby in Cross Lanes contributed to this report.

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