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Many tight races in Election 2012

By Staff | Nov 9, 2012

As the polls closed Tuesday night and votes were tallied, the waiting game began for many close races in Jefferson County, the state and even the nation. A voter turnout of 61.32 percent showed the concern citizens had for the election results. Of the county’s 35,862 registered voters, 21,990 chose to exercise that right to vote by early voting or heading to the polls Tuesday.

Jefferson County showed its support of presidential candidate Mitt Romney as did the state of West Virginia. President Obama, however, won the election winning the majority of the swing states and accruing the needed number of electoral college votes.

West Virginians including Jefferson Countians, voted to keep in office Sen. Joe Manchin, III, giving him 56.57 percent of the total county vote. Higher still was the vote for incumbent House of Representatives’ Shelley Moore Capito who garnered 60.61 percent of the county’s voter support or 12,894 votes to challenger Howard Swint’s 8,336 votes. Earl Ray Tomblin will remain as the Mountain State’s governor as he took a high margin of 50.94 percent to his main challenger Bill Maloney’s 43.74 percent of the vote.

Also retaining their seats were Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, Treasurer John Perdue and Auditor Glen Gainer. The seat of Agriculture Commissioner was won by Walt Helmick who deafeated his opponent, Kent Leonhardt, 52 percent to 48 percent.

Eastern Panhandle resident Patrick Morrisey upset long-time Attorney General Darrell McGraw’s bid for another term. Morrisey captured 51 percent of the state’s votes to McGraw’s 49 percent. In a written statement, Morrisey said,

“With your help, West Virginia made a significant change that was long overdue.” He went on to say, “We have a bold vision for what the Office of Attorney General can do to protect jobs and consumers in this state, improve West Virginia’s business and legal climate, and advance ethics reform. We will soon begin to execute that plan in a manner that will make West Virginia proud.”

Another Eastern Panhandle resident seeking a seat down state failed to garner enough votes. Judge John Yoder sought to take a seat on the Supreme Court of Appellate but lost out to Robin Davis and Allen Loughry. Also losing in that race was Letitia Chafin.

In races closer to home, State Senator Herb Snyder retained his seat defeating challenger Jim Ruland with nearly 54 percent of the vote. Snyder expressed his thankfulness to all those who have supported him and those who worked on the campaign.

“I could never have won this race alone,” he said.

The county’s three delegate districts all had candidates on the ballot. Retaining her seat in the 65th Delegate District was incumbent Tiffany Lawrence who faced a tough race against challenger Jill Upson. Lawrence captured 3,538 votes to Upson’s 3,256.

The newly created 66th District seat went to Republican Paul Espinosa who handily defeated challenger John Maxey with 59.42 percent of the vote.

The 67th District, into which Shepherdstown falls, was won by Democratic challenger Stephen Skinner. Skinner faced off against Elliot Simon for the seat vacated by longtime Delegate John Doyle.

Simon said Tuesday, “We worked really hard and I thank everyone. I congratulate Stephen on his victory but will say that it is hard to complete with that kind of money.” Simon referred to the campaign donations raised by Skinner.

Skinner shared that he felt humbled by the victory and the support of the people in the 67th District.

“I look forward to representing them in Charleston,” he said. I am proud of that fact that people were able to ignore negative advertising and to hear a positive message of sustainability and reform.”

Also humbled but also “ecstatic” was County Commission race winner Jane Tabb. Tabb defeated current commissioner Frances Morgan in Morgan’s bid for re-election. Tabb earned 12,178 votes to Morgan’s 8,905. Tabb had previously served on the Commission and says she is looking forward to getting back to work for the entire county.

Another tight race Tuesday evening was one between Sheriff Robert “Bobby” Shirley and challenger Earl Ballenger. Shirley earned enough votes to push him over the top for re-election with 50.71 percent of voter support. Shirley is completing his first term as Sheriff of Jefferson County at the end of this year.

“I am thankful to everyone who came out to support me,” Shirley said Tuesday night. “Earl ran a good, clean race and I am grateful that the voters chose to put me back into office so that I can continue to offer my service to my county.”

Shirley, who was charged by a Federal Grand Jury earlier this year on one count of deprivation of rights under the color of law and one count of falsifying a document with the intent to obstruct a federal investigation. If Shirley is found guilty, the county faces a new election. Remaining optimistic about the indictment, Shirley maintains that he is not guilty of the charges and believes he will be found not guilty in January.

Additional races saw Prosecuting Attorney Ralph Lorenzetti unopposed for his office and the current three magistrates in the county retaining their seats. Gail Boober, Bill Senseny and Mary Paul Rissler will continue to serve on the bench in Magistrate Court.

All votes and tallies are unofficial until canvassing finalizes resutls. Jefferson County Commissioners are scheduled to begin the canvassing process on Tuesday, Nov. 13 at 9 a.m.