CHARLESTON – After 83 years of Democratic rule, the West Virginia statehouse is going red.
Republicans gained control of the House of Delegates on Tuesday, picking up enough seats to control the 100-member body. When the red wave of election returns were finished, the GOP had a 64-36 edge. Going into the night, Democrats held a 53-47 majority.
After the election, the West Virginia Senate appeared destined to have a 17-17 balance between Democrats and Republicans after the GOP picked up seven seats there on election night. Democrats did hold a 24-10 majority.
But on Wednesday, state Senator Daniel Hall from Wyoming County switched from Democrat to Republican, giving the GOP an 18-16 majority there. Again, that is the first time since 1931 that Republicans have controlled the Senate.
Several longtime state legislators lost their jobs Tuesday.
In the House, Democrats Randy Swartzmiller (Speaker Pro Tem), Dale Stephens, Danny Wells, Charlene Marshall, Tony Barill, Tiffany Lawrence and others came up short in their reelection bids.
In the state Senate, Truman Chafin, Erik Wells, Larry Edgell and others were defeated. Delegate Doug Skaff also lost in his race to take over the Kanawha County seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Brooks McCabe.
It would seem Kanawha County Republican Tim Armstead, currently the House Minority Leader, would be the frontrunner to become Speaker of the House.
"Tonight, West Virginia voters made history and entrusted Republicans with the state and Federal government here for the first time in more than eight decades," State Republican Party Chairman Conrad Lucas said of Tuesday's results, which included . "We knocked a historic number of doors, made a historic number of calls and recruited the best candidates we could to ensure a conservative future and return to prosperity for our state.
"The time has come to make this state everything we know it can be, for our children and their futures. We now have a team that has pledged to fight Obama and make sure we can mine coal, drill for energy and farm the fields without the interference of Washington liberals.
"Tonight is truly a great night for our state. West Virginia has fundamentally changed forever."