By CHARLES OWENS
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
The Republicans secured a sweep victory Tuesday in the newly created House of Delegates District 27 contest for Mercer and Raleigh counties.
With 44 of 44 precincts reporting, incumbents Marty Gearheart, R-Mercer, and Joe Ellington, R-Mercer, along with John Shott, were the winners. Shott led with 10,973 votes followed by 9,913 for Ellington and 9,308 for Gearheart, according to unofficial but final returns. The three Democrats in the race, Bill Morefield, Ryan Flanigan and Greg Ball, all trailed the three Republicans. Flanigan netted 7,757 votes followed by 5,466 for Morefield and 5,986 for Ball.
The newly redrawn House district includes 43 precincts in Mercer County, and a single precinct in Raleigh County, which covers the Ghent and Flat Top area.
Shott, a Bluefield attorney and former member of both the House of Delegates and the state Senate, was the top vote getter in the race.
“Well obviously it is very flattering to come in first, but I think the important thing is we will be a pretty powerful voice for this part of the state,” Shott said. “My understanding is Raleigh County also got a good Republican presence. I hope we can address a lot of the issues that have been overlooked as far as the south is concerned like the turnpike and the King Coal Highway.”
Gearheart, an incumbent delegate originally elected to the old House District 24, has been active in fighting turnpike tolls, redistricting and other issues.
“There are two thoughts,” Gearheart said. “One there is a real conservative trend in thought right now. Folks thinking that way are showing up at the ballot box. I think the other part of it is when you fool around with voters and create districts in order to make it difficult for the minority party to win, then you upset voters. I think some of that is reflected in the voter turnout.”
Ellington was first elected to the House in 2010. He is a Mercer County physician.
“We are all very glad that things turned out the way they did,” Ellington said. “We appreciate what the people in the county did for us to get us in office. We think we will have a pretty good block. I do want to congratulate our opponents for putting up a good race. But for John, Marty and myself, we think we will do a good job for Mercer and Raleigh counties. We are very pleased and happy. And we would like to thank our supporters.”
Shott campaigned on a theme of bringing common sense changes to Charleston in order to create a more pro-business climate for the Mountain State. He supports limited but effective government, less burdensome taxes that serve as a deterrent to economic development, and protecting the state’s coal and natural gas industry from new and crippling federal regulations.
Gearheart was elected to the House in 2010. He has served as the vice chairman of the Southern West Virginia Republican Party and as a member of the Mercer County Republican Executive Committee and as a member of the Greater Bluefield Chamber of Commerce’s Legislative Services Division.
Ellington also is a former coach and has served on various committees and boards at Princeton Community Hospital. He was originally elected to the old 25th District house seat. Ellington campaigned on a theme of protecting coal, protecting personal rights in the state, and promoting a lower-based tax exemption that is fair.
— Contact Charles Owens at email@example.com