CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A Pocahontas County resident filed a petition with the state Supreme Court this week, arguing that the man elected county prosecutor last month shouldn't have been on the ballot.
Cheryl McCullough, of Arbovale, argues that Marlinton lawyer Eugene Simmons should not have been able allowed to run as a non-affiliated candidate on the ballot because he was still registered as a Democrat.
Simmons defeated incumbent Prosecuting Attorney Donna Meadows Price, 1,883 votes to 1,392 votes, in last month's election. Price, a Democrat, had defeated two challengers in the Democratic primary. No Republicans filed for the office.
McCullough also argues that Simmons, when collecting signatures on his petition to get on the ballot, should have been allowed to collect signatures only from people who were not registered with any party.
McCullough, representing herself, named Secretary of State Natalie Tennant and Pocahontas County Clerk Missy Bennett in her petition, arguing they did not properly enforce election laws under their jurisdictions.
"We disagree with the interpretation in the petition [filed by McCullough]. We will argue otherwise before the court," Tim Leach, Tennant's assistant general counsel, said on Wednesday.
Leach said the Supreme Court is unlikely to hear arguments about the petition until after Jan. 14, when the court reconvenes.
Neither Price nor Simmons could be reached for comment Wednesday.
McCullough was a Republican candidate for Pocahontas County magistrate, but lost in the May primary.
If McCullough's legal arguments are correct, then any West Virginian registered as a member of the Democrat, Republican, Mountain and Libertarian parties would be barred from signing any petition to gain ballot status from candidates who are "independent" or members of other parties.
In 2000, for example, a registered Democrat or Republican should not have been allowed to sign a petition to get Ralph Nader on the presidential ballot in West Virginia.
McCullough cities a passage from West Virginia law stating that only "groups of citizens having no party organization may nominate candidates" on political ballots.