PARKERSBURG - The West Virginia Republican Party believes it will maintain two seats in the West Virginia House of Delegates where the incumbents are stepping down as well as gain more seats overall to obtain the majority in the House in 2014.
Delegate Tom Azinger, R-Wood, and Delegate John Ellem, R-Wood, of the 10th District in Wood County recently announced they would not be seeking another term in the House of Delegates.
Both have served a long time with this being Azinger's 10th term and Ellem's sixth full term having served around a year in 2001 after being appointed to the position following the resignation of then Delegate Rick Modesitt.
The 10th District has three seats up for election this year. The remaining seat is being held by Democrat Dan Poling, who has filed with the secretary of state to run for his fourth consecutive term.
West Virginia Republican Party Chairman Conrad Lucas said Wood County has always been a strong Republican territory.
"We will have no trouble filling those seats and gaining the other," Lucas said.
The West Virginia Republican Party has made gaining the majority in the House of Delegates one of its goals for 2014.
"That is absolutely the forefront of our political agenda this year," Lucas said.
One of the ways Republicans want to accomplish that is to call out Democratic officeholders on their records, Lucas said.
"Democrats no longer really identify with those they are supposed to represent," Lucas said.
The Republicans' goal is to present strong candidates who have the values of hardworking West Virginians at heart, he said.
"We feel we have done that, particularly in Wood County," Lucas said.
Republicans Mike Azinger, John Kelly and Frank Deem have filed to run for seats in the 10th District. Azinger is the son of Tom Azinger. Kelly is serving on Parkersburg City Council. Deem has served in both the House and Senate in each of the six decades since the 1950s.
In 1994, Deem was elected back in the 3rd District of the Senate and was re-elected every term until he was unseated by Sen. David Nohe, R-Wood, in the 2010 primary.
The chairman commended the local party in Wood County in maintaining strong local efforts in promoting candidates.
"Wood County is a strong Republican region and one of the reasons for that is the grassroots efforts of the local Republican Party," Lucas said.
Jane Burdette, chairwoman of the Wood County Democratic Party, previously said more people might now consider a run for the office with the incumbents stepping down.
Democrat Paul E. Miller, Avery Street, Parkersburg, filed Friday to run for the 10th District. Democrat Jim Marion, Society Hill Road in Mineral Wells, also filed Friday to run for the 9th District seat against incumbent Republican Anna Border-Sheppard.
West Virginia Democratic Party Chairman Larry Puccio could not be reached for comment Monday.