It started on Sunday, as rising high school seniors from across the state gathered at Jackson's Mill for the annual Boys State program, a one-week intensive look at the political process by simulating a state government. And it starts at the very beginning, with two parties, Federalist and Nationalist, randomly assigned to the students, developing their own platforms.
"The Federalist Party has a solid five-point platform in which we plan to bring fair government, transparency of government, increase education spending, and all-in-all, just approve Boys State and Nation," said Federalist candidate for governor Ankur Kumar.
Kumar and his opponent Eric Finch of the Nationalist Party, will face off in a general election Tuesday night, while the rest of the state is having municipal elections of their own. Organizers said they want the Boys State elections to be a lesson to the students on campus to bring back to the rest of their peers.
"Because they're the leaders, they're going back into the communities, back into their schools, their scout troops, their church youth groups and so forth, and taking this message of leadership and patriotism and good government back to their peers," said Steve Sluss, political coordinator for Boys State.
And the students know there's a lot for them to gain. As a candidate for Boys State Governor for the Nationalist Party, Finch is invested in winning the position, but regardless of how the election turns out, he hopes to take what he learned and better both Boys State, and the state of West Virginia.
"I hope for myself to gain more leadership skills, and maybe get more of an insight into the political world, and for the party and for the whole camp, I just hope to advocate to the best of my abilities anything they support," said Finch.
Finch and Kumar, as well as most other candidates for office, will face off in a general election Tuesday night.