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Eastern Panhandle’s political footprint grows at West Virginia capital

Herald-Mail Media

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — The Eastern Panhandle has arguably gained even more influence at the state Capitol in Charleston, W.Va., with the election of Riley Moore as West Virginia’s next treasurer and wins by Republicans statewide.

“The Eastern Panhandle is a force to be reckoned with,” said West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, who, like Moore, also resides in the Harpers Ferry area of Jefferson County, W.Va.

Morrisey said Thursday that Moore’s win is a reflection of the Eastern Panhandle’s growing political strength, noting that the region also is home to 2nd District Congressman Alex Mooney and multiple state lawmakers who hold powerful leadership roles in the Legislature.


Until Morrisey’s first election in 2012, no resident of Berkeley, Jefferson or Morgan counties had ever been elected to serve on the Board of Public Works, according to the West Virginia Blue Book. As treasurer, Moore will join Morrisey on the board.

Moore received about 56% of the vote to defeat longtime state Treasurer John Perdue, who received nearly 44% in Tuesday’s general election, according to unofficial results.

One local state lawmaker, Berkeley County Republican State Sen. Craig Blair, is making a bid to become president of the West Virginia Senate.

“We’ve got a lot of good people,” said Blair, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee. “I don’t want to say it’s a power shift because I don’t believe it is.”

If elected Senate president, Blair said he would work to see that West Virginians all across the state experience the level of prosperity that has been seen in the Eastern Panhandle.

“What’s good for West Virginia is great for the Eastern Panhandle,” said Blair, who received about 80% of the vote to defeat Mountain Party candidate Donald Kinnie in Tuesday’s election.

Blair said Moore worked hard in his campaign for treasurer and also noted the success of Republican candidates statewide despite being targeted by labor groups that spent about $5 million in attempting to defeat a number of them.

Instead, the GOP is expected to gain three Senate seats to increase its hold on the 34-seat chamber to 23-11. The number of Republicans in the House of Delegates is projected to increase from 58 to 76 in the 100-seat House.


Morrisey, who defeated Democrat Sam Petsonk to win a third four-year term in Tuesday’s election, recalled being the lone Republican on the West Virginia Board of Public Works when he was first elected in 2012. With the defeat of Perdue, who is in his sixth, four-year term, all of the elected statewide offices — treasurer, attorney general, commissioner of agriculture, secretary of state, auditor and governor — are held by the GOP.

“The people of West Virginia, the Democrat Party has left them,” said Blair, who showered praise on Jefferson County Republican state Sen. Patricia Rucker who won reelection Tuesday.

Rucker defeated Jefferson County sheriff Pete Doughtery in a general election contest in which more than $500,000 was spent.

“She is a rock star,” Blair said of Rucker’s legislative work in the last four years.

Moore, who is to take office Jan. 1, will be the first Republican to serve as state treasurer in 92 years and the first to be elected from eastern West Virginia since Hampshire County Democrat William H. Ansel Jr. held the office in the 1950s.

After losing his bid for reelection to a second term in the House of Delegates in 2018, Moore credited his wife for being “hugely” supportive of his bid to run for treasurer. He also said it was a team effort with several family members supporting his campaign.

Moore said he campaigned on proposals to adopt a two-term limit for all members of the board of public works, not just the governor. He also pitched the launch of a “Jump Start” equipment and certifications savings program for individuals who engage in careers in trade and technical program-related work.

“I think we’ve been for a long time focused on college (education) as the only answer,” Moore said. “That was a message that seemed to resonate.”

Moore said he and his family will reside in Charleston while serving as treasurer, but plans to maintain his residence in Jefferson County.

“I’m an Eastern Panhandle guy, through and through,” Moore said.