by Ron Gregory
WINFIELD – Members of the Republican party’s Fourth Senate District executive committee are scheduled to meet Thursday morning to consider those who have applied to be appointed to a state senate vacancy.
When Senator Mike Hall of Putnam County was named as Governor Jim Justice’s chief of staff a few weeks ago, Hall resigned his senate seat. Previously, he had been a long-time member of the state House of Delegates. The term of his senate seat is set to expire in 2018.
State law requires that the district executive committee submit three replacement candidates to the governor, who is charged with appointing a new senator. Despite comments by some that the governor is not required to choose from the list of names submitted, state code section 3-10-5 seems to clearly say that he must.
“Any vacancy in the office of state senator or member of the house of delegates shall be filled by appointment by the governor, from a list of three legally qualified persons submitted by the party executive committee,” the code says.
The code does go on to say that if the committee does not submit names to the governor in a timely manner, he can unilaterally make an appointment.
State GOP Chair Conrad Lucas said he expects three names to be forwarded to the governor Thursday afternoon following the meeting. The law allows the committee 15 days after the vacancy occurred to submit the names. Justice will then have five days to name the replacement.
Seven have applied for the job. The state party said those include former State Lottery Director John Musgrave, Mason County Delegate Jim Butler, Putnam Delegate Geoff Foster, Jeff Barnes, Joe Jeffries, Mark Drennan and Eric Carr.
Sources close the governor said they expect him to “act quickly” once names are submitted by the committee. Political insiders said Musgrave, who is from Mason County, and Foster are the early favorites.
The governor’s appointment must be a Republican since Hall was serving as a member of the GOP.