Politics

From Party Chair to Candidate, Lucas Running for Open West Virginia Seat

Conrad Lucas is used to giving candidates advice; now he’s one of them

West Virginia GOP Chairman Conrad Lucas, a former House aide to Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, right, is running for the open seat being vacated by Rep. Evan Jenkins, left. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Conrad Lucas has spent the last five years as a state party chair, advising candidates on how to run for office. 

Now that he’s a candidate for Congress, the shoe’s on the other foot. 

“I hear my old self yelling at my new self all the time,” Lucas said Friday. Lucas announced his candidacy for West Virginia’s open 3rd District on Wednesday. 

“As a political strategist, it’s very easy to armchair quarterback every campaign and in some ways, I feel like I should apologize to all of the candidates over the years for being particularly strong in my advice,” he said.

Lucas has been prepping a House run since the spring, but after getting married this summer and wanting to ensure a smooth transition at the state party, he was waiting to finalize the timing of his campaign. Current GOP Rep. Evan Jenkins announced in May he was vacating the seat to run for Senate. He’s locked in a contentious primary against Attorney General Patrick Morrisey to take on Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin

Lucas and Jenkins are both from Huntington, the largest city in the 18-county district. Lucas said he and Jenkins are close, but he’s not endorsing in the Senate primary. 

Facing four other Republicans, Lucas knows what he’s supposed to say in a GOP primary. 

“I would call myself the most conservative,” he said. 

Some strategists in Washington, including groups that work to recruit GOP women, are excited about State House Majority Whip Carol Miller

When Lucas was first elected in 2012, he was the youngest state party chair in the country. He noted that the party flipped both state legislative chambers since he took over. 

A former aide to Sen. Shelley Moore Capito when she was a House member, Lucas is running as a Trump loyalist.

“My proudest accomplishment was when West Virginia gave Trump his largest victory of any state,” he said. The president won the Mountain State by 42 points. Trump won 73 percent of the vote in the 3rd District. 

Lucas couldn’t think of any area where he disagrees with Trump. 

“I can see him having rightful frustrations with Congress, and the process seems to have slowed his goals,” he said.

Lucas wouldn’t commit to joining the House Freedom Caucus — or any group in Congress. “I’ll wait until I win and get there,” he said, reiterating that he’s “a hardline conservative.”

Besides members of his own delegation, Lucas admires Republicans from across the ideological spectrum in Congress. 

“As an attorney, I don’t think you find any better than Trey Gowdy,” he said, referring to the South Carolina congressman who chairs the Oversight and Government Reform Committee. He also praised New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, the first female head of recruitment for the NRCC, as a rising star in the party. 

Lucas still practices law by day. He earned his bachelor’s and doctorate from Vanderbilt, a master’s from Harvard, a law degree from Tulane and an international law certificate from the Sorbonne in Paris. 

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