Miller holds West Virginia US House seat for Republicans

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Republican state lawmaker Carol Miller won a congressional seat in West Virginia, holding off an aggressive Democratic challenge Tuesday night as the GOP retained the state’s three U.S. House districts in a state Donald Trump dominated two years ago.

Miller defeated hard-charging Democratic state Sen. Richard Ojeda in the 3rd District.

Two Republican incumbents — U.S. Reps. David McKinley and Alex Mooney — cruised to re-election in the state’s other districts.

Democrats had targeted the 3rd District despite its overwhelming support for Trump during the Republican’s rise to the presidency in 2016.

Republican Evan Jenkins gave up the House seat for an unsuccessful run for the U.S. Senate this year. He then was appointed to fill a state Supreme Court seat until the November election and was on the ballot Tuesday as a candidate to complete the court term.

Miller becomes the third woman from West Virginia elected to Congress. Maude Kee served in the U.S. House from 1951 to 1964 after the death of her husband. Shelley Moore Capito served seven terms in the House before being elected as a U.S. senator in 2014.

Miller received an endorsement from Trump, who cited her support of coal and gun rights.

She has served in the House of Delegates since 2007 and is a bison farmer and small-business owner. She vowed to protect Medicare and Social Security and touted low taxes and regulatory cutbacks as ways to create opportunities in the economic struggling district reeling from the loss of coal jobs.

Her father is the late U.S. Rep. Samuel Devine of Ohio.

Ojeda is a first-term state senator who championed the cause of better pay for striking school teachers and offered a populist message that stressed health care and economic issues. He called for expanding the Affordable Care Act to include a public buy-in option to create more competitive markets. The flamboyant Ojeda also championed the cause of better pay for school teachers earlier this year.

According to federal records, Ojeda raised $2.2 million during the campaign, compared with $1.6 million for Miller.

Meanwhile, McKinley won a fifth term to represent West Virginia’s 1st District.

McKinley, who defeated Democrat Kendra Fershee, has represented the northern West Virginia district since 2011. The 71-year-old McKinley touted his background as a professional engineer and seventh-generation West Virginian, and efforts to protect jobs and health care for state residents. Fershee is a West Virginia University law professor and associate dean of academic affairs.

Mooney won a third term in West Virginia’s 2nd District, defeating Democrat Talley Sergent. Sergent was a former Hillary Clinton state presidential campaign director.

Mooney is a former Maryland state senator and state GOP chairman who moved in 2013 about 25 miles from Frederick, Maryland, to Charles Town, West Virginia. He won the 2nd District race in 2014 when seven-term incumbent Republican Shelley Moore Capito won a U.S. Senate seat.