CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The chairman of the West Virginia Democratic Party is defending the questions raised about two Republican House candidates in court filings this week.
Those filings — in Preston County and Kanawha County — call for the removal of Melissa Lewis and Suzette Raines from the November ballots because of alleged election law violations.
“I think the people of the state want to know if someone’s not complying with our laws,” Larry Puccio said when asked about the filings on Wednesday’s MetroNews “Talkline.” “All we’re saying is, ‘The law is the law.’ Everybody else in the Legislature must comply.”
In Preston County, the allegation is Lewis, the Republican candidate in the 52nd House district, changed political parties from Democrat to Republican too late, just five days before filing to run for office. State law requires that party switches happen more than 60 days before filing.
Additionally, Democrats claimed Lewis is ineligible to run because she lived in Monongalia County, outside of District 52, within a year of the election. Lewis is challenging longtime Delegate Larry Williams (D-Preston, 52).
In Kanawha County, Democrats claimed Del. Suzette Raines (R-Kanawha, 35) does not live at the St. Albans address she’s listed in campaign filings and has repeatedly not met paperwork requirements for campaign finance reports and financial disclosures. She is seeking a second term in the state House.
“She is a lawmaker. She should not be above the law. She should comply with the law,” Puccio said of Raines.
Raines told The Charleston Daily Mail questions of her residency were “disgusting” and “very hurtful.” She said there were times, during the past year, when she was caring for her sick mother who has since died.
However, she told the newspaper she has never lived outside of the 35th District she currently represents.
Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 4.