From The Well

November 4, 2020

Post-Election Perspective


At the center of the West Virginia state capitol is an area known as “The Well.” It is the informal gathering place for lobbyists, reporters, constituents and lawmakers. Centrally located between the chambers of the House of Delegates and Senate, “The Well” is often where information is shared, alliances are formed and deals are made.



WV Legislature Thoughts: What’s Next?


According to West Virginia’s Secretary of State Mac Warner, the voter turnout in the state reached 62%, which is 12 points higher than the average 50% for Presidential elections.


The 100-year Supermajority

su·per·ma·jor·i·ty /ˌso͞opərməˈjôridē/

noun: supermajority; plural noun: supermajorities; noun: super-majority; plural noun: super-majorities

1.   a number that is much more than half of a total, especially in a vote.


Both the House of Delegates and the State Senate will have strong majorities in both chambers. West Virginia hasn’t seen this type of majority in nearly 100 years. According to Brad McIlhinny of West Virginia Metro News, “Republicans expanded their majorities in the House and Senate. The GOP first gained those majorities in 2014 after decades of Democratic dominance. Going into Election Night, the House’s 100 members included 58 Republicans, 41 Democrats and 1 independent. Unofficial results now reflect a supermajority of more than 70 GOP members. Election night totals showed a new margin in the House of 76 Republicans and 24 Democrats…A similar wave bolstered the GOP majority in the Senate, which had been 20 Republicans and 14 Democrats going into Election Night. Unofficial results showed Republicans picking up three seats, establishing a new 23-11 margin.” (Full story)


Who will lead the Senate? 

With a 23-11 majority in the State Senate Republicans will now begin the task of replacing out-going President Mitch Carmichael. Current Finance Committee Chairman Craig Blair’s name keeps coming up in discussions.


If that would be the case, it could give Senator Eric Tarr, R-Putnam, current Finance Committee Vice Chairman a path to become the chair. Charlie Trump, R-Morgan would remain Judiciary Chair.


Other leadership positions such as Majority Leader could remain as is, but that remains to be seen in the coming months. Unless he has a challenger for President, Blair will be able to pick his leadership team without having to cut many deals.


The Moore Family is the “First Family” of politics in West Virginia. 

It can be argued that the Moore family – led by US Senator Shelley Moore Capito, daughter of the late three-time governor Arch Moore, and one of three members of the family serving the state – could be called West Virginia’s “First Family.” In addition to Senator Capito, her son Moore Capito won re-election to the House of Delegates and will more than likely take a leadership role becoming Chairman of the Judiciary Committee. Senator Capito’s nephew, Riley Moore, defeated six-time incumbent John Perdue to become West Virginia’s next Treasurer. A republican hasn’t been treasurer in West Virginia since 1975 when Marion County’s Ronald Pearson was appointed, but even more amazing is a republican hasn’t been elected to the seat since Fayette County’s W.S. Johnson won re-election in 1928.


Senator Capito had the largest win of any statewide candidate, taking 70% of the vote and capturing over 540,000 votes. Her victory is also notable in that she had the largest margin of victory of any candidate running for the United States Senate in the entire country. She slightly outperformed President Trump, who took 69% and over 538,000 votes in the state.


Is eastern panhandle region replacing the Kanawha Valley as West Virginia’s “must win” path to victory? 

West Virginia awaits the results of the recent 2020 US Census, and many feel the results won’t reveal any population growth in the state. If that’s the case then the state is facing the loss of yet another congressional seat. In addition to that piece of news, it will get worse for Democrat candidates in the state due to redistricting. With the supermajority in both chambers, the republicans will focus on redrawing district lines due to population shifts in the state.


The 2021 Legislative Session: What to expect? 

Wednesday morning on MetroNews’ “Talkline,” Governor Jim Justice gave listeners a hint as to what to his legislative agenda will contain next session. The newly re-elected Governor said his top priority is a long, hard look at eliminating the state income tax. Speaker of the House Roger Hanshaw told Hoppy Kercheval the first thing they will look at when it comes to the republican supermajorities is to give the legislature the authority to change the tax code. It sounds like the plan may lead to tax reform. There’s a possibility that during the 2021 legislative session the legislature could mostly focus on the state budget.The Covid-19 factor could have members pre-filing bills during the regular, and legislative committees may work remotely in hopes that a vaccine could be in distribution by summer when there’s most likely a special session to address redistricting. Tax reform and broadband are certain to be added to a summer special session agenda.


With big GOP wins, Justice aims at the income tax; Speaker Hanshaw focuses on property taxes

With big wins on Election Night, Republican leaders in West Virginia are already talking about how they’ll use their dominance to push policy, particularly changes to the tax code.


Justice described eliminating the state income tax as his No. 1 priority today.


“I would love to see us tackle getting rid of the state income tax,” he said. “I think there’s a real opportunity to do it as long as we keep pitching these great numbers.”



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