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Evan Jenkins’ Seat in West Virginia to Remain Vacant Until January

Defeated GOP Senate primary candidate was appointed to state Supreme Court

Rep. Evan Jenkins, R-W.Va., was appointed as an interim justice to the West Virginia Supreme Court. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Rep. Evan Jenkins, R-W.Va., was appointed as an interim justice to the West Virginia Supreme Court. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

When Rep. Evan Jenkins, who lost a bid for the Republican Senate nomination in West Virginia earlier this year, resigns from Congress in the coming days, his seat will remain vacant until January, West Virginia’s elections director told The Charleston Gazette-Mail.

Jenkins was appointed by Gov. Jim Justice to fill a vacancy on the West Virginia Supreme Court last week after the state’s House of Delegates voted to impeach Justice Robin Davis, who resigned after the vote.

Jenkins is just a few days into a 20-day waiting period for groups and state politicians to file objections to his appointment. After he clears that waiting period, he will resign his post as the congressman for West Virginia’s 3rd District and be confirmed as the newest state Supreme Court justice.

The seat Jenkins leaves behind “will remain vacant until the successor is elected, certified and takes the congressional oath of office on Jan. 3, 2019,” Donald Kersey, who oversees elections and serves as deputy legal counsel for the West Virginia secretary of state, told the Gazette-Mail.

Jenkins’ staff, however, will remain in place in the district until the Nov. 6 election results are certified, a process which usually takes roughly two weeks.

The general election is just 83 days away.

Like most of West Virginia, the 3rd District is Trump country. The president carried the district by 49 points in 2016, and Jenkins, a former Democrat who switched parties in 2014, won a second term with 68 percent of the vote.

Yet Democrats are not counting themselves out in the race to succeed Jenkins in the coal-mining district.

Democratic state Sen. Richard Ojeda, who voted for Trump in 2016, led GOP nominee state Del. Carol Miller in an independent poll in July.

Ojeda was a relatively late addition to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s Red to Blue program despite his prior support for Trump.

But Miller still holds an advantage considering how much the district — and the state, as a whole — has turned away from the Democrats in recent years. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the general election Leans Republican.

Watch: House Ratings Change in Favor of Democrats

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Simone Pathé contributed to this report.

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