West Virginia has a history of sending people to the U.S. House of Representatives and keeping them there for a long time. Since 1983, a period covering 37 years and six presidential administrations, the 2nd Congressional District has been represented by just four people. Only two have served in the 1st District and three in the 3rd.
Voters in the latter district went against tradition in 2014 and elected Republican Evan Jenkins to a term in the House. Jenkins won reelection in 2016. Before the 2018 election, he decided to leave his seat and become a member of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals. He was succeeded by Carol Miller, another Republican.
This year, Miller is up for reelection. Running against her is Hilary Turner, who, like Miller, is a Cabell County resident.
Miller served in the West Virginia House of Delegates for 12 years before running for the U.S. House. This is Turner’s first try at an elected office at this level.
The Gazette-Mail endorses Miller in this year’s election. Miller brings a higher degree of knowledge of the political process than Turner. However, Miller suffers from being inaccessible. She avoids public appearances and media interviews. Thus, it is difficult to engage with her.
Turner’s earnestness cannot be doubted, but she has not yet shown the background that is needed to be an effective member of the House of Representatives. With preparation, she could be a better candidate in 2022.
Speaking of 2022, this could be the last year West Virginia has three seats in the House of Representatives. When the 435 available House seats are reapportioned following completion of the 2020 census, West Virginia might have just two seats, because its population has held steady while most other states have seen increases.
If that happens, the West Virginia Legislature will need to decide whether to divide the state into two districts on a north-south basis, as is done now, or on an east-west basis. Either way, the 2022 contests for the state’s two seats will be much different. It could work in Turner’s favor and against Miller, or it could be the other way around. Whoever wins this year could face an incumbent from one of the other two districts.
In the meantime, Miller is our pick. In the 2nd District, pitting Republican incumbent Alex Mooney against Democrat Cathy Kunkel, the Gazette-Mail offers no endorsement. In the 1st District, which covers the northern part of the state, the Gazette-Mail endorses the incumbent, David McKinley.