Loyalty to voters critical in West Virginia
West Virginia voters’ solid support of Republican candidates after many years of backing Democrats for president has been remarked upon repeatedly by national political pundits. So certain of their analysis were they Tuesday night that many “called” our state for President Donald Trump after seeing just 1% of election returns.
Such a monochrome view of Mountain State voters is both unfair and inaccurate.
It is true that Republican candidates no longer are viewed as also-rans. But look at Northern Panhandle returns in Tuesday’s election for House of Delegates members. Of nine House seats filled in the election, four went to Democrats.
There is a simple explanation. Democrat House members elected Tuesday included Phil Diserio of Brooke County, Shawn Fluharty of Ohio County, Lisa Zukoff of Marshall County and David Pethtel of Wetzel County. All four are incumbents. Clearly, voters in their House districts have been pleased with how the four have represented them. All four won re-election by comfortable margins.
Another facet of the story overlooked by many in the media is that West Virginia Democrats bear very little resemblance to their counterparts on the national stage. Though they usually have views distinctly different from Republicans, they tend to be more conservative than Democrats in most other states.
It has been said that all politics is local. Mountain State voters expect candidates for public office here will remember that and will be loyal to constituents rather than to any political party hierarchy. So, while having an “R” after one’s name on the ballot clearly is an advantage now, it is far from the only consideration among voters.
Candidates at all levels in West Virginia — as well as current office holders — would do well to bear that in mind.