Will Republicans challenge West Virginia’s Secretary of State in court, and demand that a special election for the late Sen. Robert Byrd’s seat be held before 2012? So far, it doesn’t look like it.
A Republican source in West Virginia told us that West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant’s (D) interpretation of the law was “on point,” though they don’t like the law itself. “In other words, we don’t think that the Secretary of State is politicizing her role here, but we do think the code itself has been politicized in the legislative sessions.”
When asked whether they would challenge the law in court, the source told us that there are no plans at this time. “We’re not foreclosing any possibilities, but the greater likelihood is that if there is a special election, it will be because the public demanded that there is one, and the legislature amended the code,” the source said, also adding: “I don’t imagine that the end result will be determined by the courts.”
It should be noted that in her remarks today, Tennant pointed out that there is a legal precedent for just this decision, going back to 1994. In that case, the state Supreme Court ruled that there would not be a special election for an office, as the year’s regular filing deadline had already passed.
Speaking for my own part, I will say that West Virginia’s statute is one of the more confusing things that I’ve seen on this subject. How exactly it got this way is unclear — but Tennant’s job in this instance was to apply a law that was very complicated and difficult to understand in the first place.