CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A member of the Kanawha County Republican Executive Committee says other options are being considered now that the State Election Commission has said Del. Suzette Raines (R-Kanawha, 25) cannot be replaced on the November general election ballot.
On Thursday’s MetroNews “Talkline,” Thorney Lieberman called the State Election Commission’s treatment of Raines, who officially withdrew from the ballot this week citing personal matters, “unfair.”
The SEC met Wednesday and determined Raines’ reasons for getting out of the race — what she said were the ongoing effects of the death of her mother and the end of a long-term relationship — were not enough to keep her from representing the 35th District if elected. Because of that, her spot on the ballot will not be filled.
Lieberman said that was the wrong decision.
“There was no real support for her by anybody on the Commission. They threw around allegations which have no place in that meeting and they took a very high standard,” Lieberman said. “The decision is supposed to be based on extenuating personal circumstances. They took that interpretation to mean very bold and dramatic reasons.”
He said his interpretation of case law is that the State Election Commission has to give the “broadest possible due deference” to a candidate when it comes to determining such circumstances.
“They have to accept the candidate’s rationale at face value, as long as it states a reasonable claim, and they do not get to sit as arbiters of a candidate’s emotional state which is exactly what they did,” Lieberman said. “The sat in judgment of her emotional state.”
He said the other options for the Kanawha County Republican Executive Committee could include an appeal on Wednesday’s decision or the identification of a write-in candidate to run for one of the four seats in the 35th Delegate District. As of now, three Republicans and four Democrats will be on the ballot.
Without another candidate, “This assures that the Democrats will have an automatic seat in the Legislature without even an election,” Lieberman said.
Democrats currently outnumber Republicans in the state House of Delegates 53-47. That could change on Election Day — Tuesday, Nov. 4.