Controversial Delegate Porterfield finishes fifth in 3-seat primary

Controversial Delegate Eric Porterfield is out of the running for a return to the Legislature.

Porterfield, R-Mercer, finished fifth in a 3-seat primary election race.

With all precincts reporting in the district, former Delegate Marty Gearheart led the balloting, incumbent Delegate Joe Ellington was second and Doug Smith was third, making the Republican nominees for the district for the General Election.

Another Republican, Jeremiah Nelson, was fourth, and Porterfield was last of the GOP candidates.

On the Democratic side, Tina Russell was unopposed.

In 2018, Porterfield ran for the House of Delegates. He came in second in a three-seat race in the General Election and became the second blind person to serve in West Virginia’s Legislature.

Porterfield, who was blinded years ago in a fight outside a bar, leads an organization called Blind Faith Ministries.

Once seated as a delegate, he generated controversy.

During a committee meeting, Porterfield claimed that LGBTQ rights organizations are “the most socialist group in this country.”

Porterfield in a subsequent newspaper interview said “LGBTQ is a modern-day version of the Ku Klux Klan.” And then when a television interviewer asked what he would do if he found out his children were gay, Porterfield responded he would “make sure they could swim.”

This year, he irritated fellow legislators late in the regular session when he became frustrated and insisted bills up for passage would be read in their entirety, causing legislative progress to slow to a crawl.

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