With few exceptions, corporate Democrats and Republicans have filled the candidate rolls for the House of Delegate races in the Eastern Panhandle.
But that might not be the last word before the November elections.
A group promising to deliver “law and order to corporations” is seeking candidates to run as independents in the ten eastern panhandle House of Delegates districts in November.
“The chemical spill that contaminated the drinking water in Charleston last month should never have happened,” said Russell Mokhiber, who is with the group’s candidate search committee. “One reason it happened is because corporate Democrats and Republicans created a culture of deregulation, undermined law and order for corporations in West Virginia and flashed a big green light to polluters.”
The independent slate is being headed by former CBS News reporter Ed Rabel, who is running as an independent in the Second Congressional District of West Virginia.
Rabel will likely face corporate Democrat Nick Casey, a former lobbyist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and corporate Republican Alex Mooney.
In West Virginia, independents have until August 1 to file signatures with the Secretary of State to qualify for the November ballot.
Under West Virginia law, independent candidates must submit “valid signatures of at least one percent of the entire amount of votes cast for the specific office in the previous election for that office.”
For the ten House of Delegates seats, fewer than 100 valid signatures are required to get an independent on the ballot.
For his Congressional candidacy, Rabel will need to submit 2,269 valid signatures by August 1.
The West Virginia independents are seeking candidates for each of the ten eastern panhandle House of Delegate races.
The ten eastern panhandle House of Delegates races, as they stand now:
District 58: Corporate Republican Delegate Daryl Cowles is being challenged in the Republican primary by Ryan Keyser, who promises to “reduce the impact the EPA regulations have had on our economy.” There is no Democrat in the race.
District 59: Corporate Republican Delegate Larry Kump is being challenged in the Republican primary by 17 year-old Saira Blair, the daughter of State Senator Craig Blair. Like her father, the young Blair is ideologically wedded to corporate interests in the state, promising, for example, to eliminate the state’s business franchise tax, reduce the corporate net tax and drop the business property tax. The Democrat in the race is Layne Diehl, a corporate lawyer in Martinsburg.
District 60: Corporate Republican Delegate Larry Faircloth will be challenged in the Republican primary by Allstate Insurance agent Gary Kelley. The Democrat candidate is Gary “Peanut” Collis.
District 61. Democratic Delegate Jason Barrett will be challenged by corporate Republican Walter Duke. Barrett defeated Duke in 2012 by 3270 votes (53 percent) to Duke’s 2936 (47 percent). Barrett lost to Duke in 2010 — 2523 for Duke (56 percent) to 1954 for Barrett (44 percent). Duke continues to mouth corporate deregulation rhetoric, promising to fight “overzealous federal government policies putting West Virginia and our citizens in great economic peril.”
District 62. Republican corporate Delegate John Overington will face off against Democratic candidate Kristen Loken. Last week, Overington was one of only two Republicans on the House Industry and Labor Committee to vote against a one dollar increase in the minimum wage.
District 63. Corporate Republican Delegate Michael Folk will have a re-run against Democrat Donn Marshall. In 2012, Folk squeaked by Marshall by 149 votes — 3096 (51.23 percent) to 2947 (48.77 percent).
District 64. No Democrat will be running against Corporate Republican Eric Householder.
District 65. Corporate Democrat Delegate Tiffany Lawrence will face off against corporate Republican Jill Upson. In 2012, Lawrence defeated Upson by 286 votes — 3,593 (52.07 %) to 3,307 (47.93%).
District 66. Corporate delegate Republican Paul Espinosa will face Mountain Party candidate Daniel Lutz. Espinosa is a Frontier Communications executive.
District 67. Nick Casey Delegate Democrat Stephen Skinner will seek re-election. Two candidates are vying for the Republican nomination — W. Matthew Harris and Patricia Rucker.