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One of West Virginia’s two U.S. Senate seats is up for election this year. Incumbent Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., is seeking a second, six-year term in the upper chamber. She has two challengers in the primary. Three Democrats are also seeking their party’s nomination.

Republican primaryShelley Moore Capito (Incumbent)

Occupation: U.S. Senator, previously a member of the U.S. House of Representatives

Education: Duke University (bachelor’s degree), University of Virginia, Holton-Arms School

Senator Capito’s campaign did not respond to Gazette-Mail nor HD Media questionnaires.

Allen Whitt

Occupation: President of the Family Policy Council of West Virginia

Education: Auburn University (bachelor’s degree)

The following is an excerpt from Whitt’s response to an HD Media questionnaire.

Q: What suggestions do you have for improving bipartisanship and cooperation in Congress?

A: I firmly believe that no matter our differences, one ought to treat every human being with respect and charity. I will always strive to extend the spirit of friendship towards my colleagues. Unfortunately, the Progressive Left currently has a stranglehold on the Democratic Party, making bipartisanship impossible. Until reasonable voices in the Democratic Party prevail, cooperation remains very difficult.

Q: What new measures would you support to help middle-class families deal with the rising costs of health care, housing, and higher education?

A: A thriving middle-class is of utmost importance to our economy. I favor a competitive free-market health care system, which would lower costs for everyone. I also favor many of Sen. Josh Hawley’s ideas for relieving the student loan debt crisis and holding universities accountable.

Larry Eugene Butcher could not be contacted by the Gazette-Mail nor HD Media

Democratic PrimaryRichard Ojeda

Occupation: U.S. Army (retired); former JROTC instructor; former West Virginia state senator

Education: West Virginia State University (bachelor’s degree); Webster University (MBA); graduate of the U.S. Army Command General Staff College

Q: What legislation would you enact to diversify West Virginia’s economy?

A: As a U.S. senator, my focus will be bringing new opportunities to West Virginia to allow the transition of the economy from coal. I cannot allow our government to pull the plug on coal until we are first given new opportunities to allow miners to transition to other employment. I also must ensure that the opportunities that do find their way into our state are occupations that mirror the pay scales of the mining jobs that will be lost once the plug is pulled. Most coal miners are electricians, welders, equipment operators and mechanics — which should easily transition to rebuild facilities for our military fleet that has been worn down from 20 years of continuous war. Our state has built this nation and has, more than any, answered this nation’s call. My focus will be to go to D.C. and fight for any and all opportunities that can place our state on a path to success.

Q: We are in the midst of a state and national crisis with the COVID-19 pandemic. What would you do to improve response to this or a similar crisis in the future?

A: I have experience with disaster relief. I served as an Operations Officer with the 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division during the earthquake that rocked the nation of Haiti is 2010. When we are in crisis we need bold leadership willing to make the call to do whatever must be done without fear. My current thoughts are that we need hospitals to create teams of three (paramedic, nurse and X-ray tech) to respond to those with claims of feeling sick, as well as periodic testing for those who have been diagnosed with the symptoms. Allowing people to go to the hospital only exposes our medical professionals and risks losing them to the virus. A bold decision to demand self quarantine for all may not be the enjoyed response, but is the proper call. Far too many people are out and about during this time. We must also never allow ourselves to not have the personal protective equipment needed to protect our essential workers, which also includes jail and prison facilities.

Paula Jean Swearingen

Occupation: Activist

Q: What legislation would you enact to diversify West Virginia’s economy?

A: The possibilities are endless for West Virginia, but our representatives have to be willing to invest in our growth.

That’s why we support legislation like the Reclaim Act that would renew our abandoned coal towns and bring more jobs and small businesses to West Virginia.

We support federal funding and grants to rebuild and expand our infrastructure, create statewide broadband and entice new industry to West Virginia.

We can invest in our farmers by supporting legislation that legalizes hemp production and the legalization of marijuana. But, to grow our workforce, we have to train our workforce. That’s why I support federally funded state colleges, community colleges and trade schools, and a federal jobs guarantee to protect our unions and ensure a living wage.

West Virginians have been keeping the lights on for our country for a century. It’s time to invest in ourselves. But, to get the work done, we need to elect representatives who aren’t bought and paid for by lobbyists, special interests and corporations. We need to elect people who will put our workers first.

Q: We are in the midst of a state and national crisis with the COVID-19 pandemic. What would you do to improve response to this or a similar crisis in the future?

A: The coronavirus pandemic has laid bare the health care crisis in our country.

We’ve seen hospitals close in West Virginia over the years. We’ve seen primary care clinics and health care facilities close their doors. There’s already too many of us who have to drive hours just to receive care. This problem has been here. We need new representation that’s brave enough to actually address it.

As a member of the Senate, it’s important that long-term strategies are passed to safeguard and oversee funding for things like the CDC, and an emergency stimulus fund to help regular working Americans in a crisis. We need to streamline our infrastructure and lay out an emergency response that utilizes infrastructure and transportation systems to guarantee effective transportation of health care workers, medical supplies and food supplies.

Richie Robb

Education: Marshall University (bachelor’s degree); Capital University (juris doctorate)

Occupation: Attorney

Q: What legislation would you enact to diversify West Virginia’s economy?

A: West Virginia needs good jobs. The modern economy is leaving the state behind. Former U.S. Sens. Robert Byrd and Jay Rockefeller made bringing good jobs here a priority. While numerous public officials and other candidates constantly talk about this issue, I possess the requisite experience and, most of all, zeal and know-how to bring good jobs here again. Federal contracts, facility locations, targeted tax incentives and good old fashioned hustle are among measures I would pursue 24-7 to bring good jobs here.

Q: We are in the midst of a state and national crisis with the COVID-19 pandemic. What would you do to improve response to this or a similar crisis in the future?

A: Priority should focus upon protecting those most vulnerable as the elderly and people with respiratory problems, and the rest of us employ common sense protective measures. The COVID-19 crisis should be a public health wake-up call for greater attention to preventive measures such as healthier lifestyles, increased research and reaching a point where cost does not influence whether one seeks medical treatment.