(This article has been updated to reflect the latest news)
It’s been a long time coming, but West Virginia is firmly a red state, with Republican sweeps at the state and federal level.
Becoming West Virginia’s first woman U.S. Senator and the first Republican in more than 50 years, Shelley Moore Capito leaves her office in the U.S. House of Representative for a seat in the upper house. Capito soundly defeated Democrat Secretary of State Natalie Tennant 62 percent to 34 percent; nearly a 30 point spread.
That major lead coupled with West Virginia’s dislike for the policies of President Barack Obama helped the other races down the ballot.
- 1st District [mc_name name=’Rep. David McKinley (R-WV)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’M001180′ ]’s seat is safe, with Democrat State Auditor Glen Gainer losing 36 percent to 64 percent.
- In the 2nd District, where Capito called her political home since 2001, newcomer Alex Mooney defeated former state Democrat Party Chairman Nick Casey 47 percent to 44 percent, with third party candidates stripping away votes from Casey.
- And longtime Democrat Congressman Nick Rahall lost to Republican state Senator Evan Jenkins 55 percent to 45 percent.
These wins make U.S. Senator Joe Manchin the lone Democrat in West Virginia’s congressional delegation. Fully expect a Republican effort to recruit a candidate that can take Manchin on in 2016.
On the statehouse level, the extraordinary happened. Not only did the Republicans take the West Virginia House of Delegates, but they took it by a large margin. Out of 100 seats in the House, Republicans took 64 seats. They only needed to pick up four seats to take the majority. Now they have the numbers to push through legislation. No more will they have to fight with the Democrat leadership to get their bills out of committee.
In the West Virginia Senate, Republicans went from 10 seats to 17 seats Tuesday night. With only 34 seats in West Virginia’s upper chamber, that meant it’s a 17-17 tie, with seemingly no remedy for choosing a senate president in the event of a tie vote. But Wednesday afternoon Democrat state Senator Daniel Hall changed his party registration, giving the GOP a 18-16 lead. It remains to be seen if other conservative-leaning Democrat state senators follow suit, but Republicans are in a good spot there.
West Virginia’s turn from blue to red is a story more than 30 years in the making. Republicans can now close the book on that story and start writing a new book on how to unleash prosperity on a state used to being dead last.