Jason Barrett’s Victory Over Walter Duke

There are 100 seats in the West Virginia House of Delegates.

Ten of those seats are from the eastern panhandle.

Seven of the ten are held by Republicans.

Three of the ten are held by Democrats.

Five of the seven Republican seats are held by right-wing Republicans who ran unopposed in November.

They are Darryl Cowles (District 58, including northern and western Morgan County), Larry Kump (District 59, including southern Morgan County), Larry Faircloth (District 60), John Overington (District 62) and Eric Householder (District 64).

There is only one candidate in the state of West Virginia legislature who defeated an incumbent Republican in November.

His name is Jason Barrett (D) (District 61).

He defeated a ten year incumbent – Walter Duke (R).

District 61 covers the city of Martinsburg.

Barrett is 30 years old and owns Anthony’s Pizza in Inwood.

Barrett received 3270 votes (53 percent) to Duke’s 2936 (47 percent).

It was Barrett’s second run against Duke.

Barrett lost in 2010 – 2523 for Duke (56 percent) to 1954 for Barrett (44 percent).

How did Barrett score a victory in 2012?

First, the district was one of a handful in the state that went for President Obama.

But more importantly is this:

Barrett pounded the pavement.

He and his campaign workers knocked on more than 3,000 doors in the district.

“We knocked on a lot of doors,” Barrett told Morgan County USA. “And for most of these folks, no one ever stops by to listen to their concerns.”

Barrett says that his campaign targeted the 6,000 or so voters who have a strong voting record – citizens who have voted in two out of the last three elections.

Barrett estimates that he personally knocked on more than 2,000 doors.

“I would say – I want to be your representative in Charleston,” Barrett said. “Here’s my card. You can call me at this phone number or e-mail me at this e-mail address.”

“And when people went into the voting booth, they say to themselves – I know that guy,” Barrett said.

He says he didn’t make many phone calls, but did run an aggressive radio campaign and put out four mailers – some of which were hard hitting.

One of the mailers lumped in Duke – who had a reputation as a moderate Republican – with the fringe Republican delegates from Eastern Panhandle.

Two issues seemed to resonate with voters.

One was that the Eastern Panhandle was not being heard in Charleston.

The other was the homestead exemption for seniors.

Barrett says that on election day, he predicted almost every precinct correctly – except for two.

He called one for himself that he lost, and he called one for Duke that he won.

As for the five right-wing Republicans who got a free ride this year in the Eastern Panhandle – “there is a dearth of candidates in part because the job is difficult,” Barrett said.

“After all, it pays $20,000, there are no benefits, and you have to drive five hours to Charleston – one way,” he said.

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