In West Virginia, it’s the Year of the Woman: Four anti-corruption women just swept every single congressional primary in West Virginia. This is a first in the state’s history. 

Paula Jean Swearengin is the Democratic nominee for US Senate. Natalie Cline is the congressional nominee for District 1. Cathy Kunkel is the congressional nominee for District 2. And Hilary Turner is the congressional nominee for District 3. 

Paula Jean wins senate nomination

“Not only that, every single one of us won our races without taking a dime of corporate PAC money. We are 100% people-funded,“ said Paula Jean. 

Also people-funded: 

  • Danielle Walker, a state delegate and black woman who won more primary votes than any other delegate candidate in the state. 
  • Rosemary Ketchum, elected to Wheeling city council, and WV’s first elected trans woman, one of only 27 trans elected officials in the country. 
  • And Tina Russell, poised to become Mercer County’s first black woman ever elected, having won more votes in the primary than every opponent but one. 

All are a part of the WV Can’t Wait movement, with volunteer teams in every county working to elect candidates like Paula Jean who signed the movement’s pledge to reject corporate PAC money. The movement includes Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, and unaffiliated candidates. 

“We ran a smart campaign,” Paula Jean’s campaign manager David Graham explained, “and we came from behind in polling to win the primary by more than 5%.” 

Paula Jean’s primary opponents were the fiery Richard Ojeda and well-liked Richie Robb. In the general she’ll be facing Shelley Moore Capito, daughter of disgraced WV Governor Arch Moore. 

“Paula Jean, coal miner’s daughter, humble West Virginia upbringing, is up against the same money that sells miners and the rest of us out, every time,” said Communications Manager Lissa Lucas. “It’s like the plot of a movie: to protect her family, she’s facing off against the well-to-do daughter of a five-time felon who pleaded guilty to political corruption.” 

West Virginia has a long history of politicians who are “content with their roles and their profits as middlemen for the absentee owners of the state’s natural wealth,” as West Virginia historian John Alexander Williams has put it. 

“We can’t continue electing leaders whose whole goal is getting paid to do the bidding of the same corporate lobbyists who flood our mountains with drugs and death in exchange for money,” Paula Jean said. 

FEC filings show that while she’s been in the senate, Capito has taken more than $750,000 EACH from big banks, and from resource barons, PACs, and lobbyists—and shockingly, more than $135,000 from Big Pharma. West Virginia has been the state most impacted by the addiction crisis. 

“West Virginia’s fight against dirty money couldn’t be any clearer for the general election,” added Graham. “97% of Capito’s money is from PACs and large donors, and 80% comes from outside West Virginia, chiefly New York. And look, Paula Jean and the rest of us have had enough. ” 

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