This is part two of the state Senate races we’re watching:
—2nd District (Marshall, Wetzel, Monongalia, Marion, Tyler, Doddridge, Ritchie, Gilmer, Calhoun). This is an open seat because Senator Jeff Kessler (D-Marshall) decided to run for Governor and not re-election. The Republican candidate is Mike Maroney, a medical doctor from Glen Dale who is making his first run at political office. The Democratic candidate is Lisa Zukoff, the granddaughter of a coal miner who has the backing of the UMWA and the AFL-CIO. Political gadfly H. John Rogers is also running as a Libertarian. The district is trending Republican. Kent Leonhardt knocked off long-time Democratic incumbent Larry Edgell for Senate here in 2014. Republicans believe they gain a seat here. Lean Maroney.
—3rd District, unexpired term (Pleasants, Roane, Wirt, Wood). This is an open seat for an unexpired term. The Republican nominee is House of Delegates member Mike Azinger. He has name recognition because his father, Tom, served in the House for two decades. The Democratic candidate is formidable; Greg Smith is a former House of Delegates member and former head of Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield. However, Wood County, the largest county in the district, is a tough environment for Democrats. Lean Azinger.
—6th District (McDowell, Mercer, Mingo, Wayne). This is an open seat because Republican Senator Bill Cole is running for Governor. The Democratic nominee is Princeton attorney Rocky Seay, while the Republican hopeful is Chandler Swope from Bluefield. Swope operates a construction company. Swope has been stung by a controversial ad showing foreign workers at the Crum school construction site in Wayne County where Swope is the contractor. Swope has outspent Seay and should run strong in Mercer, the biggest county in the district. Lean Swope.
—7th District (Boone, Lincoln, Logan, Mingo, Wayne). This seat opened when Democrat incumbent Art Kirkendoll was upset in the Primary by Richard Ojeda. The decorated military veteran was thrust into the headlines just two days before the Primary when he was beaten unconscious at a cookout campaign event. The Republican nominee is Jordan Bridges, a coal miner who has emerged as a spokesman against the EPA’s climate policies. Republicans are high on Bridges, but this is a heavy Democratic district. Lean Ojeda.
—9th District (Raleigh, McDowell, Wyoming). Republican Sue Cline was appointed to the seat earlier this year to fill a vacancy created by Daniel Hall’s resignation. The Democratic challenger is long-time Wyoming County Clerk Mike Goode. Both hail from Wyoming County, which presents a challenge because most of the votes are in neighboring Raleigh County, but Cline has campaigned hard there. The district is trending Republican, which gives an edge to Cline. Lean Cline.
—10th District (Fayette, Greenbrier, Monroe, Summers). Democratic incumbent Bill Laird decided not to run for re-election so the seat is open. Democratic hopes of retaining the seat rest with long-time delegate Dave Perry from Fayette County. The Republican challenger is Kenny Mann from Monroe County. Mann is a funeral home director and former member of the Monroe County School Board. Observers believe Mann will win Monroe and Summers, while Perry will take Fayette, leaving the balance of the race in Greenbrier County. Toss up.
—17th District (Kanawha). Incumbent Democrat Corey Palumbo is seeking his third term in the Senate. The Charleston lawyer previously served three terms in the House and is well known in the district. He’s being challenged by Republican Delegate Chris Stansbury. Palumbo is expected to do well in Charleston city limits, while Republicans are hoping Stansbury outperforms in South Charleston and St. Albans. Palumbo is well-financed and has been able to spend nearly $150,000, while Stansbury has spent about half that much. Lean Palumbo.