CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WOWK) — One of the West Virginia State Senate primary election races this year pits two well-known Democrats from the Northern Panhandle against each other.
State Senator Owens Brown, (D) Ohio County, was appointed to his seat last September by West Virginia Governor Jim Justice, because of a vacancy. Brown says his top priorities are social issues such as lowering the costs of prescription drugs like insulin, and more funding for foster care.
“West Virginia has always been business friendly. It’s time that we are people friendly. And these thing affect the lives of people, make their lives better. And I think we should do more things like that and really help people survive from day to day,” said Brown.
Brown is being challenged by former Delegate Randy Swartzmiller (D), who served 16 years in the House of Delegates. His priority is the $6 billion dollars West Virginia will receive from the federal infrastructure law.
“I believe we need to have somebody in Charleston, who at least knows who the players are, and the connections, as well as who the people are back home, in government. So we can make sure that we get them together and create a pathway to bring those dollars back to the Northern Panhandle,” said Swartzmiller.
This race is among the biggest Democrat primaries in the state and features West Virginia’s first African-American male senator.
“The interest of the people that might be overlooked in the minority communities, might be overlooked. And there are certain things that I believe, we’re more, I’m more people-friendly,” said Brown.
“Kudos to Senator Brown, and it’s a shame that it took this long for that to happen. But with that, I mean once again, I think people are looking for experience,” said Swartzmiller.
This is the only Senate race in West Virginia this year where an incumbent Democrat is facing a primary challenge.
There are also two Republicans running in the District 1 primary. The winner of that race will face the prevailing Democrat in November.