West Virginia Legislature Photo State Sen. Paul Hardesty

CHARLESTON — In a statement released on Thursday, Sept. 26, West Virginia State Sen. Paul Hardesty, D-Logan, announced that he will not run for the 7th Senatorial District in the 2020 election.

Hardesty has held the seat since Jan. 17, 2019, when he was appointed by Gov. Jim Justice to fill the unexpired term of former Sen. Richard Ojeda, who resigned to mount a now-ended campaign for President of the United States. In his statement, Hardesty did not specify why he decided not to run for the seat again other than “careful consideration and input” from his family.

“I felt like I needed to make this decision and announcement early,” Hardesty said. “We are 90-plus days away from the start of the filing period. I wanted to give any and all persons interested in running for the seat ample time to make plans and decisions with regards to this important position. If I waited until the holidays to make a decision, I would feel it to be irresponsible and disrespectful to the constituents I serve.”

Hardesty went on to thank Justice for appointing him to the position, calling it an “honor and a privilege,” and vowed to continue to serve the constituents represented by the 7th Senatorial District for the remainder of the term.

“I sincerely hope that whoever chooses to run for the seat keeps this in mind: Southern West Virginia is hurting,” Hardesty said. “We have had catastrophic losses in personal and real property valuations throughout this five-county district. Couple that with a declining coal market, as well as declining enrollment in our public schools, and you can see tough times lie ahead for the southern West Virginia coalfields.”

In an interview with WVOW Radio that same evening, Ralph Rodighiero, D-Logan, who currently serves as a member of the West Virginia House of Delegates representing District 24, announced his intention to run for the seat. Rodighero was one of several other candidates alongside Hardesty who applied to fill the seat when it was vacated by Ojeda in January.

Dylan Vidovich is a news reporter for HD Media. Contact him by phone at 304-896-5196.