CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The chairman of the State Election Commission says he’s not opposed to speeding up a pending legal challenge to the Commission’s decision, last month, not to allow a replacement candidate for Kanawha County Delegate Suzette Raines (R-35) to be named on the November ballot.
During a Tuesday meeting, commissioners determined they do not have the authority to waive a 30-day notice that’s required before state agencies can be sued. That notice was issued on Aug. 22.
Robert Rupp, the SEC chair, said the waiver question is one for the state Supreme Court.
“It’s not only in the state’s interest to get this moving, because there’s 62 days left (before the Nov. 4 general election), but it’s also in our Commission’s self interest,” Rupp said of his support for such a waiver. “We want a ruling–how limited or how open are we in using that question of extenuating circumstances?”
Raines withdrew her name from the Nov. ballot last month citing the ongoing effects of her mother’s death and the end of a long-term relationship that have kept her off the campaign trail. However, the Commission found no extenuating circumstances that would have stopped Raines from representing the 35th Delegate District, if elected in November.
For that reason, her ballot spot was left vacant.
“I think, in the long run, if we decide to lower that bar on extenuating circumstances, then I think it’s open season in 2016,” Rupp said.
Despite the SEC’s decision, Marie Sprouse-McDavid has filed to run in the fourth available Republican spot for the 35th District in November and officials with the state Republican Party have vowed to challenge the decision in court to make sure she’s on the ballot.
Rupp said the next move is up to the Republicans. “The Commission will follow what the state Supreme Court decides,” he said.