West Virginia Politics and Government


West Virginia Politics and Government

Third Edition

Richard A. Brisbin Jr., John C. Kilwein, and L. Christopher Plein

Politics and Governments of the American States Series

458 pages
1 map, 8 tables, 1 chart, index


August 2024


$45.00 Pre-order

About the Book

This third edition of West Virginia Politics and Government offers a recent study of the changing dynamics of politics in the Mountain State. Since the publication of the second edition, West Virginia has gone from marginally blue to definitely red in both state and national elections: once a Democratic Party bastion, in the 2016 election Donald Trump carried West Virginia with one of the widest margins among the states. Economically West Virginia is also undergoing significant change as it moves toward a post-coal economy and an uncertain path of future development.

The state’s rural nature highlights some of the challenges involved in providing government services, promoting community development, fostering access to health care, and delivering public services in places that have seen population decline and economic distress. Combining new empirical information about political behavior with a close examination of the capacity of the state’s government, this edition is a comprehensive and pointed study of the state’s ability to respond to the needs of a largely rural and relatively low-income population.

Author Bio

Richard A. Brisbin Jr. is professor emeritus of political science at West Virginia University. John C. Kilwein is an associate professor and chair of the Department of Political Science at West Virginia University. L. Christopher Plein is the Eberly Family Professor for Outstanding Public Service and professor of public administration at West Virginia University.


West Virginia Politics and Government is extensive in its reach, covering every facet of government in the state. It addresses such recent—and important—developments in the state as the opioid crisis, the coronavirus pandemic and the response to it, the teacher strike and the establishment of charter schools, and the quest to improve broadband. I found the descriptions of policy disputes—including those involving mountaintop-removal mining, fracking, and the history of the coal industry and its labor wars—to be especially well done.”—Louis Jacobson, senior correspondent for PolitiFact and former deputy editor of Roll Call

“The three authors are exceedingly knowledgeable of the politics and governance of West Virginia. . . . Equally important, their lived experiences as public scholars in the state allow for bringing applied realism to the depiction and explanations in the book.”—Sam Workman, professor and director of the Institute for Policy Research and Public Affairs at West Virginia University

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
List of Tables
Part One: The Construction of the Political Agenda
Chapter One: Mountain State Politics
Chapter Two: Political Controversies in West Virginia
Chapter Three: Sources of the Political Agenda: The Influence of Political Culture
Chapter Four: The Public and the Political Agenda: Legitimacy and Participation
Chapter Five: Political Parties, Elections, and the Political Agenda
Chapter Six: Organized Interests and the Political Agenda
Chapter Seven: Intergovernmental Relations and the Political Agenda
Part Two: Political Institutions
Chapter Eight: Constitutional Politics
Chapter Nine: The Legislature
Chapter Ten: The Governor and Executive Officers
Chapter Eleven: The Administration of State Policies
Chapter Twelve: Public Finance and the Budget Process
Chapter Thirteen: The Judiciary
Chapter Fourteen: Local Government
Chapter Fifteen: West Virginia’s Political Future
Suggestions for Further Reading

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