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West Virginia AG Patrick Morrisey wins GOP primary in bid to succeed Gov. Jim Justice

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has won the Republican nod in the Mountain State’s gubernatorial race, according to a projection from Decision Desk HQ.

Morrisey emerged the winner of a crowded GOP primary field of conservatives, including businessman Chris Miller and Moore Capito, a former West Virginia state lawmaker. 

An Emerson College Polling/The Hill survey released a week ahead of the primary found Morrisey leading the pack, but he boasted just a three-point edge over Capito, a slim separation that fell within the poll’s margin of error. 

Morrisey’s support had also fallen five points between March and May, while Capito’s backing grew 11 points. 

The attorney general is now expected to sail to the governor’s mansion in the race to succeed current Gov. Jim Justice (R), who is running for Senate. He will first have to face off against Huntington Mayor Steve Williams (D) in the fall.

Morrisey was elected as West Virginia’s top legal officer back in 2012, and his gubernatorial bid leaves his spot up for grabs.

Transgender issues had emerged as a major focus in the gubernatorial primary as the conservatives struggled to differentiate themselves. Black Bear PAC, a pro-Morrisey PAC that saw big contributions from Club for Growth Action, accused Miller in an ad of having “protected they/them, not us” – and argued in another that Capito worked to “protect woke counselors.”

The emphasis on the topic surprised some strategists in the state that has already banned gender-affirming health care for minors and passed legislation preventing transgender student athletes from competing on sports teams that match their identity. 

The Emerson poll found 54 percent of West Virginia Republicans were “very concerned” about transgender issues – though that number was dwarfed by roughly eight in 10 who said the same about the cost of living and security at the border. 

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