CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Only one of the six Republican candidates for the 35th House of Delegates district interviewed by Gazette editors Tuesday voiced support for a recall election for the Mardi Gras casino's table games license.
Fred Joseph, a frequent House candidate from Charleston, said he would support a recall election, stating, "It's a simple matter of accountability."
He said the racetrack/casino ownership failed to live up to promises to make $250 million of investment at the facility when it campaigned for the table games referendum five years ago.
State Republican Party Chairman Mike Stuart held a news conference at the Capitol on March 1 to announce plans for a petition drive to put the recall vote on the November ballot. The announcement drew a firestorm of criticism, and within the month, Stuart announced his resignation as party chairman.
Delegate Eric Nelson, R-Kanawha, said Stuart invited Republican legislators to attend the news conference but that they were not apprised of the nature of the announcement.
"There was no advance notice to myself or any of the elected Kanawha County officials," said Nelson, who did not attend the announcement.
Nelson said he did not sense any sentiment among constituents for a recall vote.
"People said, 'What's going on?' We're talking, first of all, about a lot of jobs there," he said.
Suzette Raines, who runs a Charleston-based public relations firm, called the announcement ill-conceived and anti-business.
"Do I deserve to be hung out to dry as a private business owner trying to invest in the state?" she asked. "That is not what the Republican Party is all about."
John McCuskey, a Charleston lawyer, said an effort to take away Mardi Gras' table games license "seems like an extreme position," but said he could not comment at length since he works with Stuart at the Steptoe & Johnson law firm.