Opinion

Decision on state Senate seat should be about voters

An editorial from The Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT, W.Va. — We’d like to pretend that party affiliation has absolutely no bearing on which candidate voters cast their ballots for. We’d like to believe that when voters walk into the booth, they vote for the person who has views that most closely align with their own on a majority of issues.

But does that really happen outside the vacuum of the way elections should work? Did the voters of Raleigh and Wyoming counties intend to elect a Democrat to the state Senate in 2012, or did they elect Daniel Hall, who made it into office as a Democrat and promptly switched to Republican in 2014 in order to break an even 17-17 split and give the GOP its first majority in the upper house in 80 years?

 Unless you walked from door to door in the three counties (McDowell County is slightly represented in the 9th Senatorial District) and asked the 18,004 voters why they chose Hall over his Republican contender Epp Cline, we may never really know the answer.

So the question is whether when replacing Hall’s open seat — he stepped down before the session began to take a lobbying position with the National Rifle Association — is whether you should take voter intent into consideration or party affiliation.

In our opinion, the voters should always outweigh the party. Hall was a Republican who had two failed attempts at winning a seat for his district in the House of Delegates. In 2008, he switched his party affiliation to Democrat and won a seat in the House and was re-elected to that seat, also as a Democrat. In 2012, he was elected to the state Senate as a Democrat.

It wasn’t until the prospect of a GOP-controlled Senate was a possibility that Hall went back to the party he was unsuccessful in being elected under…

 

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