CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Presumed Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is hoping for an endorsement from his party’s West Virginia primary voters, who must also select 28 delegates to August’s national convention in Tampa.
President Barack Obama tops the state’s Democratic ballot in his quest for a second term. The primary also features congressional incumbents who are either unopposed or face poorly funded opponents.
Obama’s only opposition in Tuesday’s West Virginia primary was from Keith Russell Judd, who’s serving time at the Beaumont Federal Correctional Institution in Texas for making threats at the University of New Mexico in 1999. For some Democrats, simply running against Obama was enough to get Judd votes.
“I voted against Obama,” said Ronnie Brown, a 43-year-old electrician from Cross Lanes who called himself a conservative Democrat. “I don’t like him. He didn’t carry the state before and I’m not going to let him carry it again.”
When asked which presidential candidate he actually voted for, Brown said, “that guy out of Texas.”
Obama lost to Hillary Rodham Clinton in the 2008 Democratic primary and to Republican John McCain in the fall election. Obama’s economic and energy policies, particularly regarding coal, have made him unpopular in the state.
Come November, Brown doesn’t see himself supporting either Obama or presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney.
“I don’t like neither one of them, to be honest,” Brown said. “I’ll probably leave that blank unless somebody comes in. We’re conservative voters and I think Obama’s going to do no good for the state.”
Brown’s 22-year-old daughter, Emily, planned to follow her father’s presidential voting pattern later in the day — until finding out who Judd was.
“I’m not voting for somebody who’s in prison,” she said.
She was certain about one thing: “I just want to vote against Barack Obama.”
Judd was able to get on the state ballot by paying a $2,500 filing fee and filing a form known as a notarized certification of announcement, said Jake Glance, a spokesman for the Secretary of State’s office.
If he receives 15 percent of the state vote he will qualify to receive delegates to the national Democratic convention. But state Democratic Party Executive Director Derek Scarbro said no one has filed to be a delegate for Judd, and the state party was unaware that Judd has actually filed the required paperwork.
Several others said they’d like to see Obama carry the state.
Adam Polinski of Morgantown, who is self-employed and currently renovating a house, said Obama would have more support if voters could get beyond the hot-button issues.
“A politician has choices to make every day,” he said. “Hot-button issues are going to be coal-related and hunting-related for starters. But it’s a big, broad job and there are a lot of choices to be made, so I hope everybody looks at the big picture.”
Wanda Goodwin, 61, executive director of the state Board of Veterinary Medicine, calls herself a Republican who sometimes sides with Democrats. She voted for Romney.
“I think he has a good chance,” Goodwin said. “I think he is a good businessman. I think he shows he’s able to handle things under pressure. What he lacks in personality — personality’s important — but as long as you have good people around you and you’re a good leader, I think that’s the important thing.”
Adam Jones, 31, a Democrat and teacher from Cross Lanes, said he voted for Obama — “pretty much the only choice for us” — but is disillusioned about the election process.
“Honestly, when it comes to electing the big politicians — president, Senate — I’m getting to the point where I just feel like it’s voting for the lesser of two evils,” Jones said. “I’m getting very, very jaded. I think nothing in this country is going to change anytime soon, so it doesn’t really matter who you vote for. You just vote for who you hate less.”
U.S. Senate Joe Manchin faces a challenge in the Democratic primary from Sheirl Fletcher, a former Republican and ex-legislator. Unopposed on the GOP side is John Raese, who lost to Manchin in the 2010 special election that followed the death of Robert C. Byrd. The seat is now up for a full six-year term.
James Biser, 64, is a retired painter from Morgantown and a former Republican who says he’s “a Democrat at the present time.” He said he grew up with Raese, so he didn’t vote for Manchin. He’ll be watching how that race plays out in the coming months before backing either candidate.
“I hate to take and flip a coin,” he said, “but it’s happened before.”
U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito has two opponents, state Delegate Jonathan Miller and Michael Davis, in the GOP primary for the 2nd Congressional District. Howard Swint, William McCann and Dugald Brown are running for the district’s Democratic nomination.
Republicans in the 3rd District must choose among Delegate Rick Snuffer, Lee Bias and Bill Lester as the challenger to Democratic Rep. Nick Rahall. Both Rahall and 1st District freshman Rep. David McKinley, a Republican, are unopposed Tuesday. Democrat Sue Thorn is similarly assured her party’s nod as she seeks to take on McKinley.
The GOP national convention delegates include three from each congressional district and 19 at-large. More than 190 Republicans filed for these slots.
Secretary of State Natalie Tennant said more than 61,400 voters have already cast early in-person or absentee ballots, down from the 2008 primary by about 10,000 votes.
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