CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Primary voters set up a rematch between Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and Republican Bill Maloney on Tuesday, while also picking candidates in several other state level races.With 25 percent of precincts reporting, Maloney overcame GOP rival Ralph William Clark with 86 percent, while Tomblin bested fellow Democrat Arne Moltis with 84 percent. Tomblin narrowly defeated Maloney in last year's special gubernatorial election for an unexpired term. The office is now up for a full, four-year term.Of the five Democrats seeking a chance to succeed retiring Agriculture Commissioner Gus Douglass, Shepherd, a conservation district official, had 30 percent of the vote while state Sen. Walt Helmick followed closely at 29 percent. Kent Leonhardt is unopposed in the GOP primary for that office.Senate Minority Leader Mike Hall had 56 percent of the vote to Putnam County assistant prosecutor Steve Connolly's 43 percent in the GOP primary for state treasurer. The nominee will challenge incumbent Treasurer John Perdue. A Democrat, Perdue is assured his party's nomination as are Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, Attorney General Darrell McGraw and Auditor Glen Gainer. Each will face a GOP opponent in November.
Adam Jones, a 31-year-old Democrat and teacher from Cross Lanes, said he was aware of recent statements from Sen. Joe Manchin and Tomblin that they weren't sure whether they'd support President Obama in the November election. Jones voted for Tomblin and Manchin anyway."It takes a lot of guts to come out and say that you don't agree with the president who belongs to the party you're in,'' Jones said.Wanda Goodwin, a 61-year-old Republican who said she sometimes sides with Democrats, agreed with Jones."It makes me like them more,'' said Goodwin, executive director of the state Board of Veterinary Medicine.
But the stances of Manchin and Tomblin dismayed Democrat Maria Gaddis. The academic adviser at West Virginia University in Morgantown voted for President Obama, though she said she isn't sure he can win the state."It bothers me tremendously. Yes, it does,'' said Gaddis, who also took her 19-year-old daughter to vote at Morgantown High School. "It made me kind of leery about voting for the both of them because I'm concerned about the way they're going to vote. That makes a difference.''Ultimately, she did vote for both Manchin and Tomblin."I have to keep hope that they will indeed vote for Barack Obama,'' she said.Democrat Adam Polinski also voted for Obama but declined to choose either Tomblin or his primary opponent. The 48-year-old Morgantown man doesn't know who he'll support this fall."I don't really like any of the candidates,'' he said. Polinski also said, "Gov. Tomblin has got to be the favorite. He's a conservative Democrat, and that seems to be the recipe for success in a lot of West Virginia races.''The legislative races are the first since the redrawing of districts in response to the 2010 Census. House districts, for instance, have increased from 58 to 67 and include more single-member districts. But a relative handful of these seats are contested in the primary. Just six of the 17 Senate seats have multiple candidates, for instance, all of them on the Democratic ballot. Democrats hold a majority of seats in both chambers.
Tennant said more than 61,400 voters already have cast early in-person or absentee ballots, down by about 10,000 votes from the 2008 primary's early voting period.Associated Press writers John Raby in Charleston and Vicki Smith in Morgantown contributed to this report.