- Associated Press - Friday, October 17, 2014

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - A top coal producer, a casino company, the Arizona Diamondbacks owner and plenty of unions are chipping in six-figure checks to influence West Virginia’s statehouse elections.

The Democrats’ 85-year reign in the House of Delegates is at stake, and groups supporting both parties are loading up on donations and spending money on political advertising. Republicans need a net gain of four seats to take the majority.

Here is a look at the outside groups making moves as Election Day approaches in West Virginia, according to state and federal disclosures.

-Honest West Virginians: The pro-Democrat committee run by labor interests raised about $645,600 last quarter and $896,100 altogether. Donations came from unions, like the state’s AFL-CIO and teacher and mine worker groups. Honest West Virginians has spent tens of thousands of dollars on TV ads against state Republican candidates, according to TV station political disclosures. Its ads have also shown up in newspapers and mailboxes, though no disclosures are filed with the secretary of state yet.

-Grow WV Inc.: The group boosting Republicans raised $268,000 and spent $197,800 last quarter. Arizona Diamondbacks owner Ken Kendrick gave $100,000, its biggest check so far. Kendrick is a Princeton, West Virginia native. Giving $50,000 each were the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; Sean Fieler, president of Equinox Partners LP; and RAI Services Company, a branch of the Reynolds American Inc. tobacco company. The group has already spent $73,700 backing state Republican candidates.

-Moving West Virginia Forward BICPAC: the committee run by the West Virginia Business and Industry Council received a $250,000 check from Murray Energy, one of the biggest coal mining companies in the country. The council has endorsed almost only Republicans. The committee has not reported major spending for the general election yet.

-West Virginia First: The group fueled by gambling interests spent $43,200 on radio ads promoting Democrats and opposing one Republican. Penn National Gaming, which owns the Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races, donated $200,000 to the group.

-West Virginia Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse: The politically active nonprofit spent $115,000 on mailers largely pro-Republicans or anti-Democrats. Its state filings don’t list donors.

-Protect West Virginia: The group has spent $38,400 on mailings against Republicans. It’s funded by $61,000 from the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee.

-Others: The West Virginia Construction and Trade PAC, $22,000 pro-Democrats; College Republican National Committee, $35,700, anti-Democrats

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