“It’s election time.” I feel as if I’ve been uttering this phrase nonstop for the past month, but now the West Virginia primary is only three days away. This year’s contest, if you’ll pardon the cliché, does promise to be a barn burner.

Several hotly contested races have captured the public’s attention, and Mercer and McDowell counties are ground zero for the action. Among the races to watch:

• Mercer County Circuit Court judge: Omar Aboulhosn, who was appointed to the newly created judgeship by Gov. Joe Manchin, is squaring off against prosecuting attorney Timm Boggess. Both Omar and Timm are well known in the county, and no one I’ve spoken with will attempt to predict a winner in this race. I have the honor of covering this race on election night (being an editor does have its privileges), and I have no idea which way it’s going to go.

At this time I have a standing ad in the system (newspaper-speak for a story including information and background on both candidates that can be quickly updated no matter the winner). My standing ad includes two lead paragraphs — one with Aboulhosn as the winner, and the other with Boggess taking the race. Fortunately, I’m one of those people who love surprises.

• Mercer County Sheriff: Looking at the numbers, this race can leave onlookers scratching their heads. Six candidates (one appointed to the office after a successor’s fall from grace); five Democrats, one Republican; two candidates arrested (one felony, one misdemeanor) in the weeks preceding the election; and two previous sheriffs and one former city police chief vying for the office. I could provide more numbers, but there’s no need. This race is generating interest across the county.

• 23rd District House Race: The McDowell County House of Delegates race is another contest in which I can find no one willing to lay down a wager. Incumbent Clif Moore is facing challengers Emily Yeager, who previously held the seat, and Ed Evans, a political newcomer but long-time science teacher at Mount View High School. It will be interesting to see who will be going to Charleston next year.

• Truman versus Hootie, Round Two: It’s deja-vu in the 6th District Senate contest. Veteran lawmaker and Senate Majority Leader H. Truman Chafin is once again being challenged by Greg “Hootie” Smith. The mud in this race is as bad as the slop the horses faced in last weekend’s Kentucky Derby.

• 3rd District U.S. House of Representatives: Who will challenge Nick Rahall in the November General Election? The answer will be decided Tuesday. Granted, Rahall does have a Democratic challenger — Bruce Barilla — but no one expects Rahall to be defeated. The real race to watch is the Republican primary, with candidates Marty Gearheart, Conrad G. Lucas II, Lee A. Bias and Elliott “Spike” Maynard. Tuesday’s election will be the preview of what promises to be a spectacular race in November.

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This year’s primary is so broad and fierce the Daily Telegraph is recruiting extra help from outside the traditional “news” borders. Sports writers Tom Bone and Jed Lockett will both be doing election-night stories, and Lifestyles Editor Jamie Parsell will be out and about on Election Day to provide a “scene” piece for our coverage.

Fortunately for us, Princeton Times General Manager Tammie Toler is lending a hand by calling in results from the courthouse. Veteran Telegraph Copy Coordinator Sue Richmond will be taking these numbers to distribute to reporters. Sue has worked at the newspaper for 52 years, and is a veteran of many elections.

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After two decades in the newspaper business, I have learned my most important duty on election night is providing the pizza. (What’s the old saying about an army and its stomach?)

This year, with help from our well-connected and coordinated advertising department, we’re also serving up some sides. OK, it’s really just chips and a fruit tray. But that fruit will probably be the healthiest food option many of our fast-food staffers have seen in months.

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Interestingly, my most vivid Election Day memory comes not from the newsroom, but from home.

Four years ago the husband and I had recently welcomed Honey, a beautiful yellow Lab, into our home. Honey had previously belonged to my mother, but her rambunctious puppy-ness was a little too much for Mom, who faced challenges with a heart condition.

Like most Labs, Honey loved water and always enjoyed a bath after frolicking in mud puddles during a walk.

On the day of the November 2006 general election, I awoke early only to remember I didn’t have to be at work until late afternoon. I decided to indulge and take a nice, long bubble bath to unwind before the evening’s election craziness. After filling my garden tub with hot water and lots of bubbles, I stepped into another room while the water cooled.

Imagine my surprise when I returned to my bathroom and found Honey sitting in the middle of my tub — bubbles covering her head and back.

Quickly the tub was drained, Honey was de-suds and I opted for a refreshing shower.

Needless to say this year, Honey, her litter-mate Penny (another adoption) and our mastiff Pugsley, will all be outside a locked bathroom door on Election Day.

Samantha Perry is managing editor of the Daily Telegraph. Contact her at sperry@bdtonline.com.

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