Delegate selection in the dark
by Ron Gregory
Wayne — Nationwide, Republicans complained that rules promulgated by public officials kept “election observers” from actually observing tabulations of the 2020 election.
Meanwhile in West Virginia, any potential election observers are actually locked out of the latest GOP selection process.
That fact comes to light by way of the process of filling the 19th Delegate District seat left vacant by the resignation of newly-elected Delegate Derrick Evans of Wayne County. State Republican leaders showed their determination to lock the public out of their deliberations this week.
After the 19th Delegate District GOP committee members met openly last week and selected three names to submit for replacement of Evans by
Governor Jim Justice, acting State Chair Roman Stauffer interceded.
The original names were sent to Justice, who state law says then has five days to choose a replacement. But five days have passed and Justice is apparently waiting on Stauffer. The state chair announced he is holding interviews for replacement of Evans this evening at 6:30 pm at the Wayne County Courthouse.
Never mind that state law requires an open process and the meeting is being held in a public facility, a spokesperson for the state GOP said neither the public nor press can attend tonight’s interviews. In addition, Stauffer has told county Republican officials he will not reveal the names of those being interviewed.
Rumors have surfaced in the county that State Senator Mark Maynard is not satisfied with the three candidates submitted. Maynard, also of Wayne County, is said to favor Josh Booth.
Wayne Republican Executive Committee Chair Jeff Maynard says he simply followed state law in submitting the committee’s three names. They are Mark Ross, Jay Marcum and Chad Shaffer. Jeff Maynard said state law is clear that the state chair and committee have no part in the process when only one county is involved. Some delegate districts cross county lines but not the 19th.
Evans was the first Republican elected to the House in decades. He gave up the seat after being criminally charged in the January 6 demonstration that led some attendees to storm the capitol where congress was meeting. Capitol police maintained that a video shot by Evans implicated him. Calls for his resignation from the House immediately followed and he resigned the following weekend.
The legislature convened earlier this month to organize without a second representative from the two-member district. It is not scheduled to reconvene until February.
At press time, the governor’s office had not responded to an email requesting an estimate of when Justice would fill the vacancy.
Most members of the 19th District portion of the Wayne Executive Committee said they would not be attending tonight’s meeting.
One said, “we already met and did our job. Why sit through 2-½ hours of interviews for no reason?”
Ron Gregory is a columnist and covers the legislature for lootpress.com. Reach him at 304-533-5185 or firstname.lastname@example.org