CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state’s Attorney General has weighed in on the debate over who should replace Daniel Hall to become the 9th Senatorial District representative.
In an advisory opinion issued Tuesday morning, Patrick Morrisey stated that the vacancy created by the Wyoming County politician who switched from a Democrat to a Republican after his election should be filled by the political party Hall belonged to at the time of his resignation.
The opinion, requested by Senate President Bill Cole on Friday, cited subsections (a) and (c) of West Virginia Code 3-10-5.
Morrisey contends that the subsections state “…without ambiguity, the Legislature’s intent for a replacement senator to come from the political party from which his or her predecessor was affiliated at the time of vacancy.”
The debate sparked after Hall announced his resignation to take a position with the NRA, that will now become effective January 3.
State Democrats claim that ambiguities in subsection (c) referencing “at the time of his or her election or appointment” when ruling what local executive committee should be charged with making recommendations as reason that the replacement should come from the party he was elected with.
The opinion attempts to counter that argument by determining the subsection (c) reference addresses the location of the appropriate executive committee as opposed to its political affiliation.
“This sentence shows that the Legislature knew how to (and did) specify ‘the time of . . . election or appointment’ when it saw fit to do so,” the opinion states. “The Legislature specifically did not include that same qualifier when referring to the vacating senator’s party affiliation in subsection (a), and our Supreme Court of Appeals has made clear that ‘we are obliged not to add to statutes something the Legislature purposely omitted.'”
No state Supreme Court of Appeals decision or previous Attorney General’s Office opinion addressing was available during the Morrisey’s research.
Democrats have indicated they will also submit their recommendations to the governor and the matter has the possibility of going to court.