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Salango says he won’t repeat bid for governor

CHARLESTON — Ben Salango, who was the Democratic nominee for governor in 2020, says he is no longer considering a run for that office this political cycle.

“I want to thank those that have reached out and encouraged me to seek the 2024 Democratic nomination for governor of West Virginia. Your support and encouragement truly mean the world to me,” Salango stated Wednesday.

“Running for public office is a tremendous commitment, both personally and professionally. After months of consideration, I’ve decided that I will not seek the Democratic nomination for governor.”

Salango, a Kanawha County commissioner, won the Democratic nomination for governor in 2020 over a field of several competitors. He wound up losing to incumbent Gov. Jim Justice, the Republican nominee, by 33 points. Justice got 497,944 votes to Salango’s 237,024.

Justice is up against a term limit and is now running for U.S. Senate.

The current Republican field for governor is big and active.

Declared candidates on the Republican side so far include current office-holders Auditor J.B. McCuskey, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, Secretary of State Mac Warner and House Judiciary Chairman Moore Capito. Also running is automobile dealer Chris Miller, son of U.S. Congresswoman Carol Miller.

This cycle, Salango had expressed interest in running for governor again but said he did not want to run against another possible Democratic nominee, Huntington Mayor Steve Williams.

“We’ll certainly reach an agreement before there’s any announcement. I don’t want to run against Steve Williams. He’s a great guy. It would probably be the most boring Democratic primary ever because I won’t say a negative word about him,” Salango said a few weeks ago.

Williams, who has been mayor of Huntington since 2012, Wednesday said he is leaning strongly toward running. He made public comments at a local celebration of the Juneteenth holiday to indicate the

“I said at the Juneteenth that I intend to run, but that it won’t be official until I intend to file and that wouldn’t be until sometime in July or August,” Williams said Wednesday in response to a question from MetroNews.

“I was simply dropping the bread crumb. It’s never official until it’s official. I sure wasn’t going to announce anything until I heard from Ben. I’m a big step closer.”