When the results were in after the June 9 Republican primary, Morgan County Commissioner Ken Reed had defeated incumbent Delegate Larry Kump in the 59th House of Delegates District, which encompasses southern Morgan County and parts of western Berkeley County.
There was no candidate in the Democratic primary, so it appeared as if Reed would be unopposed in November.
Talk at the Morgan County courthouse immediately turned to who the Republicans would name to fill Reed’s seat on the Morgan County Commission when he won the uncontested election in November, became a member of the House of Delegates and resigned from the Commission.
But hold the phone.
Not so fast.
It appears that Reed will not be unopposed in November.
And in fact, as things are shaping up, Reed will have not just one opponent, but at least two – with both – Patricia (Patch) Adams and Robert E. Smith – from the Berkeley County segment of the 59th district, which is home to two-thirds of the registered voters in the 59th district. The other third of the voters come from four precincts in Morgan County – Cacapon State Park, Love Assembly of God, Pleasant View Elementary and the former Greenwood Elementary School.
(Although in the June 9 primary, Reed did better in Berkeley County – defeating Kump there 1,166 to 738 (61 percent to 39 percent) than in Morgan County, where Reed won 666 to 603 (52 percent to 48 percent).
Both Smith and Adams are not fond of the two party system.
Smith is a 23-year old resident of Hedgesville, West Virginia. (When asked about his age, he points out that a previous delegate from the 59th, Saira Blair, was 18 when she was first elected to the House of Delegates.)
On June 20, Smith won the Mountain Party nomination to be its candidate in the 59th.
On his website, Smith says that “if elected, he will serve independent of the major parties, aiming to bring about much needed compromise to the issues challenging working families.”
Smith comes from a working class family. He was raised in Ireland in his early youth. Back in the States, he has always lived within close proximity of the Potomac. He graduated from Allegany College in Cumberland and currently resides in the Hedgesville area.
“Our campaign is different from the competition,” Smith told Morgan County USA. “We refuse to take corporate money and only accept small donor contributions.”
“I’m no career politician. If elected, I won’t take marching orders from either of the major parties’ leadership. This campaign is about putting the people first.”
Smith said he would never consider running as a Democrat.
“Even if the Democrats asked me, I wouldn’t run as a Democrat,” Smith said. “The party leadership at the state and national level talk the talk of everyday common people, but they won’t walk the walk. Plus I wouldn’t run in a party with Joe Biden at the head of the ticket.”
Smith says if elected, he would help promote the interests of working people and small business owners and is especially interested in promoting the distillery and brewing industry in the area.
Adams is a small business owner. She owns an upholstery shop in Hedgesville. Adams says she is collecting signatures to get on the ballot as an independent.
She needs 73 signatures from voters in the 59th, but is shooting for over 100 signatures just to make sure she gets the required amount.
“I am currently collecting signatures to be placed on the ballot,” Adams says on her website. “Please call, text, e-mail or stop in to sign the petition. It is a normal part of the political process for unaffiliated candidates.”
Adams went on WEPM’s Panhandle Live this morning to discuss her candidacy.
She was asked why she decided to run.
“This district has always had a representative from the Berkeley County area,” Adams said. “I am a fan of Delegate Larry Kump. And I’m not a fan of his opponent.”
“I do have very strong convictions and there is background between me and the Reeds. Poor decisions have been made and I would like to right those wrongs.”
What Adams was referring to was a lawsuit she and Howard Stone brought in 2018 challenging the residency of Ken Reed’s wife, Tally Reed, who was running against Kump in the Republican primary.
The week before that May 8, 2018 primary, Judge Joanna Tabit tossed the complaint brought by Adams and Howard Stone saying she would not address the merits of the case.
“Why not resolve it after the election?” Judge Tabit asked attorney Patrick Lane, who brought the lawsuit on behalf of the residents. “If there is an issue with respect to residency, it can be resolved then.”
Stone filed a similar lawsuit this year and the lawsuit was similarly dismissed, this time by Judge Tera Salango, finding that Reed had established his domicile in the 59th.
“Perhaps more importantly, this court cannot issue this writ because there is another remedy available and that is the statutory remedy (to remove a candidate after the primary) and there was a delay in filing this petition for this writ,” Judge Salango ruled. “There was a delay of three months after. I’m going to deny this emergency petition.”
Tally Reed lost the 2018 Republican primary to Kump by 34 votes – 987 to 953. Tally Reed won the Morgan County part of the district 424 to 371, but lost the Berkeley County part 616 to 529.
On WEPM this morning, Adams described her politics as “very conservative – morally and fiscally.”
“I’m not a progressive. I lean more toward libertarianism. I believe in the Constitution. We wouldn’t have a country without the Constitution.”
“The two party system is a little bit too aggressive at this point,” she said. “We seem to think one side or the other will make everything better. I just don’t agree with that anymore.”