CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state Election Commission denied a request Wednesday from Republicans to replace Kanawha County Del. Suzette Raines on the November General Election ballot.
The request came from the Kanawha County Republican Executive Committee after Raines, R-Kanawha, officially withdrew from the race this week. The election commission has the power to replace a candidate if it decides the reasons for the withdraw are enough to keep the candidate from serving if they were to be elected. The commission decided Wednesday Raines’ reasons were not enough to allow Republicans to fill the now empty ballot position.
Commission member Gary Collias said Raines has had a tough time in her personal life but it doesn’t meet the standard the commission has to follow.
“Her mother died in March of this year and she broke up with her boyfriend and I just have difficulty seeing those two circumstances as so extenuating that she’s not going to be able to serve as a delegate,” Collias said.
Friends and colleagues of Raines argued the circumstances have changed the delegate.
“You do not get over something like that overnight,” Raines’ friend and fellow Republican Melody Potter told the commission. “I know we are all involved in politics here but this is really about peoples’ lives and the voter’s rights.”
House of Delegates Minority Leader Tim Armstead argued it was in the best interest of the election panel to make sure voters had as many choices as possible. But commission member Taylor Downs said the commission must be consistent. The commission denied a similar request involving a Mingo County officeholder earlier this year.
“He had a sworn affidavit and a letter from his doctor and that was not enough in our minds (for extenuating circumstances), so it’s important for this commission, as much as possible, to have some sort of consistency,” Downs said.
The 35th Delegate District will now have three Republicans and four Democrats for the four available seats in the November vote. There is nothing preventing a write-in candidate from entering the race.