Pocahontas prosecutor election challenged
Marlinton, W.Va. –
Green Bank area resident Cheryl McCullough filed a writ of mandamus with the West Virginia Supreme Court, which could nullify the results of the election for Prosecuting Attorney. Eugene Simmons, listed on the ballot as an unaffiliated candidate, won the election and is scheduled to take office on January 1st.
McCullough says she got involved when she learned Simmons is a registered Democrat.
“Actually, someone that had signed Gene’s petition, of the signatures that he needed to get on the ballot, actually came to me and asked me questions,” she said. “They questioned, since the Democrats had already had their primary in May, how could he be a Democrat and run again? Is this a second primary? And that’s what got me to looking at it.”
McCullough says the petition process is supposed to be reserved for minority party and independent candidates.
“The statute that he got on the ballot with is used for minority parties to be able to nominate a candidate and get them on the ballot to run for an office,” she said. “That’s the avenue it’s for and that is not what was done.
“From what I understand reading the statute is – well, first off, you have to be a member of the party for at least 60 days, whatever you’re going to file for, if you go as a non-affiliated party or an independent or whatever you would like to call yourself. He could have done that, but he never changed from a Democrat. At the top of his list, where he had the names, he listed the name of the party as Democrat.”
McCullough says the political affiliation of those who signed Simmons’ petition is another problem.
“If you read the statute, it tells you it is for citizens who are not members of an organized organization,” she said. “Republican, Democrat, Mountain party- they are quite obviously organized parties. If you read through it and it tells you the signatures you have to go and get – it’s saying all through there someone who is not a member of an organized party.
“This is not personal against Eugene Simmons. It is not personal. It is not Cheryl McCullough against Eugene Simmons. That is not it, at all. I am challenging a law.”
The writ seeks to compel election officials, including County Clerk Missy Bennett, Secretary of State Natalie Tenant and Attorney General Darrell McGraw, to invalidate Simmons’ candidacy. The Supreme Court gave a short deadline for those parties to file a response.
“Yesterday, the 20th of December, was the last day for the respondents to answer to the writ,” McCullough said. “I’ve answered some questions to the Supreme Court and, as far as I know right now, all information is in the Supreme Court’s lap. And we are just waiting to see where they are going to proceed on it.
“My writ asks that the November election be nullified and that the person who won the election in May be declared the winner.”
The winner of the May primary election was incumbent Prosecuting Attorney Donna Price.