Complicating matters is that the nominees must come from the old, pre-redistricting 15th Senatorial District, a district that stretched from Pocahontas to Berkeley County. With redistricting, the 15th has been broken up into three new districts: the 11th, 14th, and 15th -- with the new 15th being a Republican stronghold of Mineral, Hampshire, Morgan and the western portion of Berkeley County.
(How much of a stronghold? In the general election, the Democrats didn't even put up a candidate to run against former Delegate Craig Blair, R-Berkeley.)
Two of the three nominees selected Friday by the 15th Senatorial District executive committee would therefore have to run in different senatorial districts in 2014.
Circuit Judge Donald Cookman is from Hampshire County, which puts him in both the old and the new 15th District -- which also means he would have a very difficult time getting re-elected in 2014.
Former Sen. Tom Hawse is from Hardy County, which is in the new 14th District. If he were appointed, Hawse would face Sen. Dave Sypolt, R-Preston, in the 2014 general election.
(While the appointee to fill Helmick's vacancy will technically be from the 15th District, if Tomblin were to appoint Hawse, that would effectively give the14th District three senators, while the new 11th District would be represented only by Sen. Clark Barnes, R-Randolph.)
The third nominee, former Sen. and Delegate Mike Ross, has long resided in his estate at Coalton, Randolph County, but recently established his primary residency as Buckhannon in Upshur County. Both counties are in the new 11th District.
Could history repeat itself? In 2009, Ross was a gold sponsor (the maximum $5,000 contribution allowable by law) for then-Gov. Joe Manchin's inauguration -- and about a week later, Manchin appointed him to the seat vacated by the late Delegate Bill Proudfoot.
This year, Ross was one of 67 $5,000 sponsors (and one of eight individuals) for Tomblin's inauguration.
Finally, Queen's counterpart in the 15th District has been Margaret KerrBeckwith, who lost to Barnes in the 2012 11th District Senate race.
Beckwith has contended that Barnes no longer lives in Beverly, Randolph County. (Barnes said the confusion is that he has sold two of three houses on the property, but maintains his place of residence there at what is known as Buzzard's Glory.)
Likewise, she contends that Ross' primary residence remains in Coalton, not in Buckhannon, where he has an office. That, of course, will be a matter for the courts to decide if Ross gets the appointment ...
Reach Phil Kabler at ph...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.