West Virginia Democratic Party

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West Virginia Democratic Party
ChairpersonBelinda Biafore
HeadquartersCharleston, West Virginia
Liberal conservatism
Social liberalism
Political positionCenter to Center-left
National affiliationDemocratic Party
United States Senate
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United States House of Representatives
0 / 3
Executive offices
1 / 6
West Virginia Senate
14 / 34
West Virginia House of Delegates
43 / 100

The West Virginia Democratic Party is the state level chapter of the United States Democratic Party in the state of West Virginia.


The state of West Virginia granted itself statehood after its people, through a state constitutional convention, became a free state and broke away from the slave holding state of Virginia in 1861 during the first year of the Civil War. Article IV of the U.S. Constitution requires consent of the newly formed state, the original state, and Congress. Since the Virginian government was ruled illegitimate as it was a member of the Confederate States of America, no approval was required and after Congressional consent, self-statehood was gained and political party formation prospered.[1]

The West Virginia Democratic Party was started as a coalition of Pro-Union Democrats, Pro-Confederate Democrats, and former members of the Whig Party. After 1872, its political dominance flourished when restrictions that disenfranchised former Confederates were struck from the state constitution.[2]

West Virginia Democrats in government[edit]

The West Virginia Democratic Party controls only one statewide statewide executive offices, the State Treasurer, and holds minorities in both the West Virginia House of Delegates and the West Virginia Senate. Democrats hold one of the state's two U.S. Senate seats and none of the state's three U.S. House seats. Incumbent governor Jim Justice was elected as a Democrat in the 2016 election, however switched from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party in August 2017, seven months after taking office.


Democratic electorate[edit]

Democratic and Republican parties have dominated the American political scene for close to two centuries. One party often overpowers the other and controls the government as a whole. In these times of dominance, the party in power holds a majority of seats at national and state levels and commands the loyalty of the electorate for an extended period of time. In West Virginia, the Republican/ Union supporting party held political power from 1863 to 1872. The Democrats took power in the 1872 elections and held it until 1896. Republicans once again had control in 1872 until 1932. During the Great Depression, The Democratic Party began its dominance and continues to control most of the state and local offices to present day.[3] The West Virginia Republican Party had its most successful election since 1928 during the 2012 cycle where it enjoyed a gain of 11 House of Delegates members, 3 Senators, an Attorney General and another Supreme Court Justice.

Democratic dominance in West Virginia in the 1900s[edit]

From 1930 to 2014, Democrats held majorities in both chambers of the West Virginia Legislature.[4]

West Virginia voters almost always prefer the Democratic candidate for national offices. They have sent only two Republicans to the U.S. Senate, one in 1942 and the other in 1956. Out of the 168 contests for seats in the U.S. House of Representatives between 1932 and 1994, Republicans have won just twenty-three times. Six of those victories were secured by Arch A. Moore Jr. The people have voted for a Democratic President in every election except 1956, 1972, and 1984.[5] Since the 2000 election however, Republican candidates for president have enjoyed electoral victories in the state.

Today's party organization[edit]

The party organization is governed by the West Virginia State Democratic Executive Committee. This committee comprises its leadership. The Chairman is Belinda Biafore, the Vice Chairman is State Senator Bill Laird, and Curt Zickafoose serves as the Executive Director.[6]


  1. ^ west Virginia Statehood http://www.wvculture.org/history/statehoo.html Archived 2007-03-07 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Robert Rupp (November 22, 2016). "Democratic Party". The West Virginia Encyclopedia.
  3. ^ Brisbin, Richard. West Virginia Politics and Government. University of Nebraska Press, 1996. p. 34 para 3.
  4. ^ Brisbin, Richard. West Virginia Politics and Government. University of Nebraska Press, 1996. p. 35 para 1.
  5. ^ Brisbin, Richard. West Virginia Politics and Government. University of Nebraska Press, 1996. p. 35 para 2.
  6. ^ "WVSDEC Leadership". West Virginia Democratic Party.

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