Elections, State Government, West Virginia governor, West Virginia Legislature

A look at outside spending for and against candidates in May primary races

MORGANTOWN – Political candidates have their own campaign committees to raise cash (often from the candidates’ own pockets in recent statewide races) for their election efforts.

But outside groups also like to throw money to influence election outcomes – buying ads and media time to promote their chosen candidates and bash the opponents.

The spending – millions of dollars in the Republican gubernatorial primary – is called independent expenditures and electioneering communication. Here’s a look at money spent in some statewide and local primary races – all contested GOP races as it happened this time around.

You’ll notice that many of the numbers aren’t nice, round figures. That’s because the political committees will often bundle purchases to promote and/or bash candidates and it is listed as being divided among all the candidates listed for that particular day’s package.

Governor’s race

Conservative Americans for Prosperity, based in Arlington, Va., spent a total $545,800.41 supporting Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, who topped five other candidates to win the GOP nomination.

Black Bear PAC, based out of Charleston and Beverly, Mass., is run by a former Morrisey campaign worker, Scott Will. It spent $1,528,816.06 promoting Morrisey.

While many voters find negative campaigning annoying and distasteful, PACs believe it’s effective.

And so, Black Bear spent more money on negative advertising against Morrisey’s opponents than it did supporting Morrisey: $4,539,335.91 against third-place finisher Chris Miller, son of Rep. Carol Miller; $3,660,120.21 against second-place finisher Moore Capito, former House of Delegates Judiciary chair and son of Sen. Shelley Moore Capito; and $209,982.26 against fourth-pace finisher Secretary of State Mac Warner.

Club for Growth Action, based in Washington, D.C., and financially linked to Black Bear, spent $1,469,372.89 against Miller.

Gun Owners of America, based in Springfield, Va., spent $75,500 for Morrisey. Another pro-Second Amendment committee, the National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund, out of Fairfax, Va., spent $3,214.77 for Morrisey.

A group called Patriotic Veterans, out of Columbus, Ohio, spent $61,486 for Morrisey.

A committee called Team West Virginia – with an Alexandria, Va., address and a D.C. phone number — spent $1,485,269.23 supporting Capito and $444,821.42 opposing Morrisey.

Its web page offers a place to sign up to receive calls and texts and a link to its privacy policy but no other information. Its papers filed with the secretary of state show its executive is F. Scott Rotruck, state Board of Education financial officer.

The committee called West Virginia Forward, based out of Alexandria, Va., is run by Miller’s father – and husband of Carol Miller – Matt Miller. It confined itself to negative campaigning, spending $2,343,388.75 opposing Morrisey.

Other races

Kanawha County state Sen. Mark Hunt won the GOP nomination for state auditor, defeating three other Republicans. The West Virginia Family Foundation, out of Sophia in Raleigh County, spent $21,535 supporting him.

A few committees got involved in area legislative races.

In the state Senate 2nd District, GOP challenger Chris Rose defeated incumbent Health chair Mike Maroney, with 61.34% of the vote to Maroney’s 38.66%.

The West Virginia’s Future PAC, out of Charleston, spent $26,483.47 supporting Maroney. But Make Liberty Win, out if Alexandria, Va., spent $50,836.57 against Maroney. And Students for Life, out of Fredericksburg, Va., spent $8,110.11 supporting Rose.

The NRA Political Victory Fund spent a small amount of money in the House of Delegates 75th District – representing Fairmont. Incumbent Phil Mallow defeated challenger David Kennedy, 56.69% to 43.31%. The NRA spent $81.73 supporting Mallow.

Email: dbeard@dominionpost.com