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Raines dropping out of House of Delegates race

By David Gutman, Staff writer
Delegate Suzette Raines, R-Kanawha

Republican Delegate Suzette Raines, the subject of recent Democratic accusations about her residency and her financial disclosures, is withdrawing from the West Virginia House of Delegates race and will seek to have her name removed from November’s ballot.

“This has been a paralyzing experience that has disabled me from moving on with my life and now every day the Democratic Party is attacking me,” Raines said in a prepared statement. “It is sad that someone who wants to serve and do what is right for the people is deterred by those who put partisan politics above all else.”

Raines said she had been working with state officials to resolve the accusations against her.

“Ultimately it’s a personal decision on her part, it doesn’t have anything to do with the claims that were made and whether they’re true or not,” said Marc Williams, Raines’ attorney. “Being in a protracted legal battle was not in her best interests.”

Raines represents the 35th District, which includes the South Hills area of Charleston and western Kanawha County. She will serve out the remainder of her term, which runs through January.

In July, the West Virginia Democratic Party filed legal complaints against Raines, alleging that she failed to file five consecutive campaign finance reports with the secretary of state and a 2014 financial disclosure form with the state Ethics Commission. As of the day of the Democratic filing, the Secretary of State’s Office had no reports from Raines for the 2014 election cycle.

The Democrats sought to have Raines removed from the November ballot.

A hearing on the allegations had been scheduled for Thursday morning in Kanawha County Circuit Court, but that hearing has been postponed.

Williams said he and lawyers for the Democratic Party will try to figure out the legal mechanisms for removing Raines from the ballot and report back to the court on Tuesday.

“After all the information was collected and presented, the facts spoke for themselves,” said Brittni McGuire, press secretary for the state Democratic Party. “The law clearly states that a candidate who fails to meet the legal requirements to run for office cannot remain on the ballot.”

Democratic officials also allege that Raines no longer lives at her listed residence in St. Albans.

About 10 days after Democrats filed charges against her, Raines’ landlords — Kanawha County school board member Becky Jordon and her husband, Andrew — filed a complaint asking that she be evicted from a house she was renting in South Hills.

“I have always lived in my district,” Raines said Thursday. “We had a hearing scheduled for today that was going to be a complete circus. I can’t put up with their antics every day while trying to rebuild my life after a year of tragic losses.”

Raines missed most of the latest legislative session to be with her mother, who was sick with cancer and died earlier this year.

“Suzette is a very close personal friend who I love dearly, and [I] want her to do what is best for her,” state Republican Party Chairman Conrad Lucas said. “She’s gone through a great deal of tragedy and personal heartache, and I know she will get through this and will be back in public service when the time comes.”

Lucas said the party plans to do all it can to have a full slate of Republican candidates on the ballot in the 35th District.

“There’s been a lot of people reaching out already,” Lucas said of possible replacement candidates. “We will not have a lack of interest.”

To be able to replace her on the ballot, either Raines or the Kanawha County Republican Executive Committee must file a request by Aug. 12 with the State Election Commission.

West Virginia law dictates that a candidate can be replaced only if there are “extenuating personal circumstances which will prevent the candidate from serving in the office if elected.”

If it receives a request, the Election Commission will hold an emergency meeting. If the request is approved, the county Republican Executive Committee would have to nominate a replacement candidate by Aug. 18.

Jake Glance, a spokesman for the Secretary of State’s Office, said the office has not had any communication with Raines on withdrawing from the election.

Reach David Gutman at david.gutman@wvgazette.com, 304-348-5119 or follow @davidlgutman on Twitter.


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