CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- It's disgusting that 72,544 West Virginia Democrats dislike President Obama so intensely that they voted for a Texas prison convict instead in Tuesday's primary election.
Of course, most didn't know they were choosing a criminal. They simply picked "anyone but Obama." The inmate outpolled the president in nine counties. Further, about 25,000 other West Virginia Democratic voters skipped the presidential race entirely.
Although Obama easily won, it's nonetheless a blemish on the state that Keith Judd -- confined to a federal cell -- took 41 percent of West Virginia Democratic votes, almost the same number garnered by Republican Mitt Romney.
Meanwhile, it's troubling that Judd was allowed onto the ballot in the first place, because law seems to ban it. Article 4 of the state Constitution says that only "citizens entitled to vote" may hold office -- and that "no person . . . who is under conviction of treason, felony . . . shall be permitted to vote while such disability continues."
Serving a prison term should have kept Judd out of West Virginia's election. But Secretary of State Natalie Tennant said the convict filed appropriate notarized papers and paid a $2,500 filing fee, so he couldn't be rejected unless a judge ruled him ineligible. We wonder if that's correct. Why didn't she deny him, and let him appeal to a judge? Also, how did a convict get $2,500?
Nationwide, the West Virginia result made headlines and caused Republicans to crow. Romney said in a radio broadcast: "I saw in West Virginia, for instance, that an inmate got 40 percent of the vote against President Obama," which means the Democratic Party is badly divided, he said.
Former Daily Mail political editor Chris Stirewalt, later a West Virginia Media commentator, wrote a column distributed by Fox News saying it's "bad news for Obama" that the Texas convict "outperformed the president's 2008 West Virginia primary showing." Stirewalt added: "While Logan County has voted for a felon or two before, it's not usually considered a positive attribute."
In addition to being a criminal, Judd evidently is a nut. He wrote to the Federal Election Commission that Obama's universal health insurance plan is "about taking hard-earned money from the Working Slave Class and giving it to the Wealthy Wall Street Ruling Class. This is a civil war . . . ." He said 26 states might secede if the U.S. Supreme Court upholds universal care.
Late-night TV comics probably will joke about some West Virginians preferring jailbirds to Harvard law professors.
Departing West Virginia GOP Chairman Mike Stuart, known for outlandish statements, finally said something sensible when he told Statehouse correspondent Phil Kabler:
"I'm embarrassed for West Virginia over how foolish we look."