At the April 11, 2023 Monongalia County GOP meeting, Republicans will briefly recap our committee's process for filling vacancies due to deaths or resignations. The last time the local GOP committee went through the process was in early 2016, after a late-2015 resignation.
Del. Danielle Walker's WV HD-81 seat is reportedly vacant as of April 10, 2023, as mentioned by former Monongalia County Democratic chair, Shane Assadzandi. Speaking of the former local Democratic party leader, numerous Democrats decried their own party as being "abelist and uninclusive" in describing how the former chair was unceremoniously treated.
Ron Gregory originally reported the local party shakeup, and shared an editorial questioning the timing and potential motive that may otherwise benefit WV Democratic Party Chair and Kanawha County representative, Del. Mike Pushkin. Mr. Gregory followed-up to surmise that Pushkin felt it better to ruin a man's reputation to have control of the process.
Commenting about this Democratic debacle, Terry Sayre said, "I would describe this as a fight to be Captain of the Titanic but since the ship has already sank I would describe it as a fight to be Captain of the lifeboat."
Monongalia County has shown it's clearly becoming more red, and on a path to flipping red. After 2022's election and crucial victories proved Republicans can compete and win at all local levels, Ethan Moore, Monongalia County Republican chair, made it clear that the party would work to further increase our gains and target vulnerable seats in 2024.
Trends continuing as expected, Monongalia County will flip red within the next four years, as evidenced by voter registration data provided by the WV Secretary of State.
Between 2020 and 2024, voters in Monongalia County shifted toward a Republican dominated county by 4.2% points. Expect this trend to continue, if not increase in transitioning from a purple to a red county.
The post-COVID era has shown that higher education has limits and faces growing challenges with an American nation that's having fewer children, and sending more to work via non-traditional learning paths. While West Virginia University remains an outstanding value comparatively, locally, WVU is off its 2016 enrollment highpoint by 3,747 students.
Fewer students coming to campus means less voters registering in areas that Democrats have counted upon and boasted about for years, notably WV HD-79 (Del. Hansen), WV HD-80 (Del. Williams), and WV HD-81 (Vacant).
What makes WV HD-81 particularly particularly attractive and competitive for Republicans to win going forward is that it's one of the most compact geographic districts in the state, with the fewest number of voters needed to win. While legislative districts were apportioned based on population within a relatively small margin of error, the reality is that districts contain varied numbers of voters.
In Monongalia County, the number of voters varies between the high and low districts by about 5,000, according to party voter data. As of 2023, WV HD-82 has about 12.4K total voters whereas WV HD-81 has only some 7.4K total voters. The change to a red county is a matter of when, not if.
Former Del. Walker showed her limits in the 2020 election, when she was at the bottom end of the vote total for winners. She went back to Charleston in 2022 with what turned out to be the sixth lowest winning vote count among the 12 Democrats who were elected to the WV House of Delegates. WV HD-81 is a vulnerable district. It's ripe for a young, moderate Republican: someone who enjoys networking, and is willing to work across the aisle to offer help and solutions for people would be well received by a district that includes a large percentage of independent, unaffiliated voters.
In 2024, the Monongalia County GOP will continue to work to make inroads to better compete and win more locally including offices and districts currently held by Democrats. Republicans who are interested in running for office should sign up for email updates, and volunteer and donate to help flip Monongalia County red more quickly.