America Votes 22:527 (returns); New York Times, 5/2/1996 (commentary)
Gaston Caperton was a successful Governor. He raised teacher's salaries, worked to improve the state educational system, and worked to bring better businesses to the state. The Democratic Party in this fairly reliable state expected to build on their previous eight years.
The leader in the polls throughout the Democratic primary campaign was Charlotte Pritt, a state senator and school teacher. Pritt ran against Caperton four years earlier and placed a respectable second. She called for the elimination of taxes on food and a reduction in taxes on gas. Educators and union leaders endorsed her.
Pritt's chief rival was Joe Manchin. A construction contractor and coal broker, Manchin also served in the state senate. He had the support of the business interests in the state.