West Virginia state senate district three race: Meet the candidates
PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - Republican Mike Azinger is fighting to keep his state senate seat in the fast-approaching November election.
Jody Murphy, who brands himself as a ‘Manchin centrist’ type democrat, will be his opponent in the ballots.
WTAP sat down with both district three candidates to better understand what they will do for West Virginia.
When you talk to both Mike Azinger and Jody Murphy, a common interest is brought up again and again - the economy. However, the candidates have different strategies to tackle the issue.
Azinger focused on tax cuts.
“The conversation right now is about which tax to cut. That’s republican progress. So do we cut the personal property tax, the car tax - which I’m very much for - or do we cut the income tax - which I am also very much for - so I will support either one of those,” he said.
Murphy, while open to tax cuts, focused more on developing entrepreneurship. He said he wants to start giving land away to attract businesses.
“If you bring a workforce in and they’re buying homes and they’re paying property taxes and raising families, you are going to get that money back in local taxes, in local economic development in anywhere from five to ten years,” he explained.
Another major priority for Murphy will be keeping the Pleasants County power plant open.
“That is a huge economic impact. Huge. You know, a couple hundred jobs…,” he said.
Both candidates’ strategies to grow West Virginia’s population tie back to their economic plans.
Azinger emphasized amendment two, which will also be on the ballot, saying it will attract businesses.
“We’re focusing on amendment two right now - getting rid of the car tax, getting rid of the business machinery tax, and the inventory tax, and several other taxes,” he said.
Murphy is against amendment two because he doesn’t believe the legislature will pull through on all its promises. More specifically, he thinks that they’ll just end up reducing the business inventory tax.
Social issues - specifically LGBT issues - are another major point of focus for Azinger. That includes a push for banning drag queen story hours and banning medical transition in transgender kids.
“It’s going to be multi-faceted and there will be a group of us working on bills that address these kinds of issues and indoctrination frankly that’s happening throughout the culture,” he said.
Murphy calls these bans government overreach.
“There are a lot of things I agree and disagree with that the government should have no business in. None whatsoever. That’s a large part of it is really why is this the government’s concern?” he said.
When it comes to abortion, Azinger is pro-life and Murphy is pro-choice.
Azinger said, “I supported the pro-life bill that we just passed and it was great legislation. It’s going to stop probably 98 or 99% of abortions that happen in West Virginia.”
Murphy said, “I’m not a female. I have never been put in this position. I think women should have a right to decide. Ultimately they’re the ones carrying babies to term and they’re usually the ones doing the raising.”
Murphy, however, said he doubts abortion law will change because of how many Republicans are in the state senate. He also emphasized that social issues are not his point of focus.
When WTAP asked Azinger why voters should vote for him over Murphy, he said Murphy is too liberal, emphasizing that West Virginia should keep its Republican majority.
When WTAP asked Murphy why voters should vote for him over Azinger, Murphy said he’s the better choice for growth and development. Murphy also said that Azinger and him have different visions of what state government’s role should be, saying that Azinger “would like to see state government a lot more involved in the day to day operations of things that I don’t think state government should be involved in.”
Below is a list of each candidate’s background, according to the candidates...
- Mike Azinger
- 2014: elected to the house
- Multiple years in senate (first year was 2016)
- Has worked in politics, whether that’s in office or working for political campaigns, for over half his life
- Works for family business (Azinger Group)
- Masters in pastoral theology at a bible college
- Jody Murphy
- 15 years at local newspapers in the Mid-Ohio Valley
- Pleasants County Chamber of Commerce
- Pleasants County Development Authority
- Pleasants County Convention and Visitors Bureau
- Bachelor degrees in both history and political science at Concord University
- Minors in education and philosophy
When asked why he’s qualified for office, Azinger said that his experience speaks for itself. He also added that he comes from a business family, is passionate, and stands up for issues he believes in.
When Murphy was asked the same question, he pointed to his accomplishments working for the chamber of commerce as well as the development authority. Murphy said that he helped over 70 new businesses start up or grow through the Launchpad Initiative, which he founded and was the chairman for. In a press release from earlier this year, he described it as “a new business and entrepreneur pitch contest in the Mid-Ohio Valley.”
Murphy also said that he got three new businesses up in Saint Mary’s without using government money and worked with the Trump administration and Pleasants County Commission to keep the coal-fired powerplant open.
To read previous coverage on Azinger from this year’s election cycle, click on the link below.
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