Election Results in WV: Reading the (Political) Tea Leaves

Primary Elections Are Over

On Tuesday, May 14, West Virginians went to the polls to cast their votes in the 2024 primary election. In a deep red – or blue – state, the primary election simply matters more than the general election as the general contest is, normally, non-competitive. Thus, it is highly unlikely that we will see a close general election for most seats. So it is safe to say we have a good idea of what the state’s political leadership will look like over the next few years.

With election-season bombast thankfully behind us, legislative leaders must turn their attention to substantive public policy issues.

The Mountain State Has Made Huge Strides, But What’s Next?

Since 2014, West Virginia has embarked on a necessary crusade to reform its policy environment towards freedom-oriented policy and away from its historical preference for bureaucracy, unions, and other special interest groups. To say West Virginia has come a “long way” would be a drastic understatement. Right-to-work, legal reform, certificate-of-need (CON) reform, education freedom, and tax cuts comprise just a sliver of policy changes over the last 10 years. West Virginia’s cornucopia of reforms stacks up well against any other state in the country.

In fact, “obvious” policy reforms are getting harder to come by every year. This is, mostly, a great thing, but it raises the natural question for our next crop of leaders: what’s next?

The Cardinal Institute is hard at work answering that very question.

Over the last several months, Cardinal has been compiling a list of ideal freedom-oriented public policies that are, in some cases, “tried and true.” In other cases, we propose novel ideas that are specifically tailored to address West Virginia’s biggest problems. We believe that over the next few years, West Virginia will have an unprecedented opportunity to create as robust a free-market policy environment as exists anywhere in the country. If we are diligent and steadfast in the belief that freedom, though often scary, remains the best way to improve the lives of all West Virginians – both current and future – then our compiled policy prescriptions will be critical to consider and implement.

A Post-Election Playbook

The Cardinal Institute will publicly release its compendium of policies sometime in Q3 2024. But in the spirit of opening a gift on Christmas Eve, we can give a brief preview. Some reforms will be obvious because we’ve been working on them for years. Some examples are universal recognition in occupational licensing and total repeal of CON. However, others will be new for us and West Virginia. (My apologies, but you’ll have to wait for the official release to see the brand-new ideas.)

Suffice to say that virtually every area of public policy will be touched upon. From the size and scope of the administrative state to fiscal policy, education, and even the funding structure of the state’s largest agencies.

Alongside the policies, we intend to publish a list of coalition partners that undersign each proposed policy reform. To our knowledge, there’s been nothing like it ever published in West Virginia. It’s a lot of work, but we must take advantage of the opportunity that’s before us. Big problems require big solutions, and we believe that our list of policies will meet the moment.

(If you, dear reader, have an idea, please let us know. We do not claim a monopoly on good ideas for West Virginia, so please do not hesitate to reach out. We cannot guarantee your idea will make into the official list, but we will welcome the discussion.)

West Virginia has long been burdened by a negative reputation and, often, for good reason. Now, we have a chance to capitalize on recent policy victories, double down in the coming years, and finally live up to our state motto, “Mountaineers Are Always Free.”

The Cardinal Institute looks forward to providing the playbook.


Garrett Ballengee is the President & CEO of the Cardinal Institute for West Virginia Policy.


The Cardinal Institute for West Virginia Policy works alongside Mountaineers to build a West Virginia Miracle founded on economic freedom, education freedom, worker freedom, and a culture of freedom enshrined in the state motto: Mountaineers are Always Free.

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