MORGANTOWN — The West Virginia House of Delegates 51st District had its own blue wave on Election Day as Democrats laid claim to all five seats.
Democrats Barbara Evans Fleischauer, John Williams and Rodney Pyles were re-elected and newcomers Evan Hansen and Danielle Walker unseated Republicans Joe Statler and Cindy Frich.
The most experienced of the 12-candidate field, Fleischauer said she was honored and flattered to be the top vote-getter at 16,244 votes.
“We had a great night in the 51st,” Fleischauer said of the Democrats’ sweep. “One thing that I’m really looking forward to is having a team I can work with. I’m really excited that Evan and Danielle and John and Rodney all won, so that we can do things together. We were pretty divided before.”
Fleischauer said she believes her party’s support of teachers during the nine-day strike earlier this year played a big part in Tuesday’s outcome.
“We supported the strike. I think the teachers came out strong and I think that there was a whole lot of enthusiasm on the Democratic side,” she said. “It was a really big effort by a whole lot of people.”
Hansen ended up receiving the second highest vote total, with 15,455. He said Tuesday’s outcome was fueled by his 2016 campaign, which left him a few dozen votes short of a seat in Charleston. He said he’s had Election Day 2018 circled on his calendar since.
“I really have. It was a real close race two years ago and that’s pushed me to work extra hard these last two years. I think that paid off,” Hansen said. “I’m thrilled with the results. I know there’s a lot of hard work to do and I’m going to get started tomorrow.”
Williams, who received 14,945 votes, said he’s “extremely excited” to be headed back to Charleston to represent Monongalia County for a second term.
“The voters of Monongalia County spoke and they spoke loud,” Williams said.
He went on to say that he’s pleased four fellow Democrats were elected, but now it’s time to put people ahead of party.
“Now it’s time that we move on from this election and keep on working, not just for Democrats, but Republicans as well. I represent everybody in Monongalia County,” Williams said.
Pyles, also returning for a second term, received 14,142 votes, the fifth highest total of the night.
He said he’s “thrilled and appreciative” the voters opted to send him back to Charleston.
“It’s been an honor and a privilege. It’s something I wanted to do again and I’m happy to be re-elected,” Pyles said. “I’m also happy we’re sending five Democrats — that we were able to gain those two seats. I’m hoping our presence statewide is increased.”
Pyles said he’s hopeful Democrat party gains in the House of Delegates could lead to another look at things like the state’s right to work law and prevailing wage.
For his part, Statler said he was disappointed with Tuesday’s result, but the voters’ message was clear. Statler totaled 12,990 votes, ending up in sixth position atop all non-Democrats.
“Evidently something I was doing didn’t agree with the electorate of Monongalia County. That’s why we have elections and I completely honor that,” Statler said, noting “I don’t know the reasoning exactly, but I respect the people’s choices. They’ve decided they no longer need my representation in Charleston and that’s fine. It won’t take me long to clean my office out.”
A message left for Walker was not returned in time for this report. She ended up with 14,615 votes.
Remaining vote totals were: Frich (12,540); Debbie Warner (R, 11,008); Roger Shuttlesworth (R, 8,846); Aaron Metz (R, 8,422); Buddy Guthrie (Lib, 2,990); Harry Bertram (AFU, 937).
All results are unofficial until certified.
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