At least nine West Virginia lawmakers have announced they either are seeking new office or altogether leaving public office leading up to the 2022 election cycle.
There are fewer than 70 days until the filing period opens for West Virginians seeking state office during the next election cycle.
As of Thursday, five members of the House of Delegates have announced their campaigns for state Senate, two announced their intentions to seek election to their local county commissions, and at least three delegates had announced they weren’t seeking re-election.
Just one senator so far has announced whether they’re leaving the Senate in 2022.
The 2022 election cycle will be the first under new legislative and congressional maps that the Legislature approved last month.
The change to the maps was shift from 67 multi-member districts in the House to 100-single member districts, in keeping with a law the legislature passed in 2018.
Delegate Nathan Brown, D-Mingo, on Thursday confirmed he would not seek re-election to the House, saying he was considering running for Mingo County Commission as a way to contribute to his community through public service.
“The time that was necessary to be a good delegate took away from the time it was necessary to be a good father,” said Brown, who has three young children. “Being a good father to me is much more important to me than being a delegate.”
Delegate John Mandt, R-Cabell, announced earlier this year he likewise would not seek re-election to the House in order to pursue a seat on the Cabell County Commission, telling The Herald-Dispatch in Huntington the county needed “new blood” in the city and county government.
Sen. Bob Beach, D-Monongalia, announced last month he would not seek re-election for what would be his fourth term in the Senate, putting an end to a more than 20-year career in the Legislature.
In the House of Delegates last month, Delegates Dave Pethtel, D-Wetzel, and John Doyle, D-Jefferson, announced they wouldn’t seek re-election due in large part to the new House district maps.
Pethtel had said he didn’t want to challenge fellow Democrat Lisa Zuckoff, D-Marshall, who is in the same district as him in the House district map that has 100 single-member districts.
Doyle said his district would be impossible for him to win, even with an amendment to the map he proposed, but that the House rejected.
Delegate Terri Funk Sypolt, R-Preston, on Tuesday told The Preston County News & Journal she wouldn’t seek re-election in 2022.
“My heart still wants to serve, but my head is no longer in it,” Sypolt told the News & Journal. “I am tired of hitting my head against the wall.”
On Thursday, Delegate Barbara Fleischauer, D-Monongalia, announced her intention to seek a Senate seat in the new Senate District 13 in a video released by her campaign. District 13 includes southeastern Monongalia County and eastern Marion County.
“My goals will be to listen and to use my experience to help people navigate state government including during this horrible pandemic,” Fleischauer said in the video.
Fleischauer is the only House Democrat who has announced a Senate bid.
Four Republicans announced their intentions to run for Senate, including Delegate Mick Bates, R-Raleigh, who announced his Senate campaign Tuesday.
“I am proud of my work as the Delegate for the 30th District,” Bates said in a news release “However, I made a promise that I would not serve in that role for more than 8 years. That is why I am officially announcing my run for State Senate.”
Bates first was elected to the House as a Democrat in 2014, and he switched parties in May. He will be seeking office in Senate District 9, which includes all of Raleigh and Wyoming counties and a portion of southern Fayette County.
Delegate Josh Higginbotham, R-Putnam, announced his Senate campaign in September. Higginbotham is moving to Kanawha County, he said during a speech on the House floor during the special legislative session for redistricting last month.
“After much thought, prayers, and with my family on board, I have made the decision to take on a bigger challenge of serving our state in this new way,” Higginbotham said in a Twitter thread on Sept. 12.
Higginbotham, who is completing his third term in the House, is seeking election to the new Senate District 8, which includes portions of western Kanawha County, northeastern Putnam County, southern Jackson County, and all of Roane and Clay counties.
Delegate Jason Barrett, R-Berkeley, announced last week he was seeking a seat in the state Senate.
Barrett, who has served four terms in the House, was elected as a Democrat, but changed his party affiliation to Republican in December 2020.
“I think it’s the right time for me to step up and run for the state Senate,” he told WVDM-TV. “I am very much committed to the Republican party and the state of West Virginia.”
Barrett is seeking election in the new Senate District 16, which includes southeastern Berkeley County and all of Jefferson County.
Delegate Ben Queen, R-Harrison, announced in June his intention to seek a Senate seat.
“The state Senate has been a passion for me,” Queen told WVNews in June. “I have been able to see the Republicans take control, and I think it’s an opportunity for more young blood in the Senate.”
Queen is seeking election in Senate District 12, which includes all of Calhoun, Gilmer, Lewis, and Harrison counties and western Taylor County.
The filing period for the 2022 election cycle begins Jan. 10.