Sen. Walt Helmick has won an open seat for agriculture commissioner.
The Greenbrier County Democrat defeated Republican Kent Leonhardt on Tuesday.
The seat was left open by the retirement of Gus Douglass, a Democrat who had held the office since 1964. He was the nation’s longest-serving agriculture chief.
Helmick has a spring water bottling business on his 200-acre property and has grown hay for use by neighboring farms.
Leonhardt operates a 380-acre farm in Monongalia County where he raises cattle, sheep and goats while also growing produce and hay. He had questioned Helmick’s farming credentials.
Helmick argued that as a former Senate Finance Committee chairman, he knew how to aid economic development through the agriculture office.