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Marshall professor discusses possible congressional map changes


HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — West Virginia will go from three congressional districts to two districts in 2022, although it is not set how state legislators will divide the Mountain State.

The U.S. Census Bureau published data last week regarding population rates nationwide, in which West Virginia led the country in population loss with a 3.2% decline based on the 2020 census. The state will lose one of its three seats in the U.S. House of Representatives because of the decrease.

The state Legislature is responsible for approving new congressional districts.

Marybeth Beller, an associate professor of political science at Marshall University, said the easiest option for dividing the state would be separating northern and southern counties or creating districts dividing West Virginia east and west.

“I don’t think there is going to be any real way to draw those lines so that we’re not pitting two representatives against one another,” she added during an appearance on “MetroNews Talkline”

Beller said the most likely option is dividing West Virginia by northern and southern counties, which would put Reps. David McKinley, R-W.Va., and Alex Mooney, R-W.Va., against each other if both lawmakers run for office in 2022.

“I think it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which we do that east-west split and include the Northern Panhandle in the same district that we’re going to have Cabell County,” she said.

McKinley, a Wheeling native, has served in the House since January 2011. Mooney, who resides in Charles Town, began representing West Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District in 2015.

A possible northern district would include both panhandles, while a southern district would include the coalfields, Charleston and Huntington.

California, Michigan, Illinois, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania are also losing one House seat. Illinois and Mississippi are the only other states with an estimated population loss.