Two of the biggest surprises from the June 9 Republican primary were Delegate Daryl Cowles’ (58th Delegate District) loss to George Miller and Senator Craig Blair’s (15th Senatorial District) almost loss to Ken Mattson.
Both Cowles and Blair said that part of the explanation was traditional Democratic voters registering as independents and taking the Republican ballot.
“Matt Hahn was the Republican Congress candidate who ran against Alex Mooney,” Cowles said last week on Eastern Panhandle Talk with Rob Mario and David Welch. “Alex Mooney won quite handily across the state (70 percent to 30 percent.) Here in Morgan County, the home county of Matt Hahn, he was running as a Republican, but he is a far left liberal. That motivated a good number of left wing liberals to become independents and ask for the Republican ballot. That was certainly one of the things that was in there.” (Hahn won Morgan County by 52 percent to 48 percent.)
Cowles said in addition, there were many hot local races in Morgan County in the Republican primary – led by the race for Sheriff won by Sheriff K.C. Bohrer who defeated Vince Shambaugh by 51 percent to 49 percent of the vote – with very little going on in the Democratic primary.
And those races also drew voters registered as independents into the Republican primary, Cowles said.
Cowles said that another reason for his defeat was that he had “never been one to save political capital.”
“It always has been a strategy of mine to be determined and dedicated and march toward whatever policy it is that I believe in,” Cowles said. “And that includes spending political capital. The bypass issue, the natural gas line, the road bond issue and the tax funding that funds it, school choice, right to work — on all of these things I believe I was absolutely right and the people believe these policies and projects were needed. But every time one of those things happens, there is a segment that didn’t like the outcome and maybe over time, it adds up.”
Blair said that “a lot of people that were registered Democrats and that switched to unaffiliated or Republican are coming in and messing with the elections.”
“My opponent was endorsed by the union groups,” Blair said.
Blair said he wasn’t surprised by the outcome.
“I was right on the money,” Blair said. “I told a number of people I would win by 53 percent of the vote. I was spot on.”
Blair said that usually he enjoyed going out and putting up signs, but this time he only put up a total of three signs – two in his front yard and one in front of Senator Charlie Trump’s law office.
Blair said that one day he came home and both of his signs were gone from his front yard and there was a Ken Mattson sign 200 yards away.
Blair said because of the coronavirus crisis, there was little door to door campaigning and people relied on Facebook and newspaper ads for information.
“If you are talking about Facebook you are seeing a lot of negative activity. Facebook is a cesspool of misinformation. It’s bad information in most cases,” Blair said.