On Heels of Midterms, a Populist Surge in West Virginia

Nadia Ramlagan

Local candidates that signed onto a no-corporate-money pledge made midterm election gains in Charleston.

Katie Lauer, co-chair of West Virginia Can’t Wait, said the organization now has two dozen bipartisan elected officials – including Republicans, Democrats and independents in public office across the state. She said the wins signal Mountain State voters are paying less attention to politics and more on the issues affecting their lives.

“Our goal for this cycle was to double that number to get 22 elected officials into office, and we not only met that goal, but surpassed it. So we now have 24 elected officials across the state,” Lauer said. Some are on city council, some are on school boards, some are on county commissions.”

Around 35% of voters statewide went to the polls for the midterms, according to a U.S. Elections Project Analysis.

She said Charleston’s officials are focused on decriminalizing cannabis, instituting harm-reduction programs for substance use, addressing trauma among youths and families, and increasing minimum-wage and paid sick days for workers.

“And the question we’re asking is, are there things that we can do right here at home that address the problems right in our backyard?,” she said. “And who from whatever party wants to come to the table and help solve those problems?”

West Virginia Can’t Wait was founded in late 2018 and ran its first slate of candidates in 2020.