Lawmakers will have to “step up” for West Virginia as state loses a member of Congress next year

Population loss and redistricting cost West Virginia a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives
Lawmakers will have to “step up” for West Virginia as state loses a member of Congress next year
Lawmakers will have to “step up” for West Virginia as state loses a member of Congress next year(DC Bureau)
Published: Nov. 8, 2022 at 12:22 AM EST
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - As West Virginia loses a lawmaker in Congress next year, political experts say the newly-elected U.S. Representatives will have to “step up” to make sure West Virginia’s voice remains strong in Washington DC.

Because West Virginia has lost population, the election map was redrawn. Therefore, redistricting combined the state’s three districts into two.

Republican Representatives Carol Miller and Alex Mooney are now running for re-election in the newly-drawn 1st and 2nd districts. Rep. David McKinley (R-W. Va.) will leave office at the end of the year after he was defeated by Mooney in the primary.

Despite the change in the election map, Dr. Kenneth Martis noted that West Virginia still remains highly Republican.

“There’s been a massive switch in the last 22 years to the Republican party (in West Virginia), so no matter where the district boundaries were drawn, we were going to have a majority, a big majority with respect to the Republican candidates,” he said.

In the 2nd district, Mooney is facing a Democratic challenger, Barry Wendell. Martis noted that if Mooney were to win re-election in the newly expanded district, he will likely face additional pressure to get things done in Congress.

“He does have to step up. He does have to be more vocal. He does have to get on the right committee,” said Martis, “...I hope that that occurs for the sake of the state of West Virginia.”

The Washington News Bureau asked Mooney how he plans to amplify West Virginia’s voice on Capitol Hill.

“Sure well they’re adding a lot of oil and gas to the new district. Our predecessor is on the committee that dealt with that. So I’m definitely going to get more involved with promoting the energy industry, coal you know there’s a lot of coal in West Virginia, but in the northern half of the state there’s oil and gas as well. So you know we’ll look forward to meeting with them, talking about how we can make sure those good paying jobs are there and, people in this country have energy, that’s an important issue.” said Mooney. He added, “also in my new district is West Virginia University. I get asked that a lot as I travel the country, is WVU in your district and Morgantown? So Morgantown will now be in the district. So I’ll be more involved with West Virginia University which does a whole lot in West Virginia. They own medical centers and they have facilities all across the state. So higher education is something I’ll be even more involved in.”

The pro-Trump, anti-abortion Republican also wants to curb inflation and government spending.

But Democrat Barry Wendell said he’s the candidate who is fighting to protect democracy as he is “terrified” of what Republicans might do if they take over Congress.

“The most important issue to my constituents is about abortion. When I talk to women and I say that I am pro-choice, I get big cheers,” he said.

Wendell said he’s travelled to nearly all of the newly expanded district to discuss issues with voters and to highlight the good things he says Democrats are getting done.

He noted the infrastructure law and Inflation Reduction Act is, “bringing millions of dollars into West Virginia and for bridges and roads and getting broadband. That’s the thing I hear most in the outer places that we don’t have good internet here.”

The state reported in October, that there are more than 450-thousand Republicans in West Virginia compared to nearly 380-thousand Democrats.