I’ve told bits and pieces of this story in response to comments on various threads in various places. Having done so over and over, I feel the need to go ahead and put it all out there now so that everyone has one place to turn to for my perspective as state chair. I’m going to go over this first in timeline format, then share a few additional facts about WV and the ballot access situation for us and other parties. If something in the timeline is a bit confusing, see the facts section for clarification.
December 2007: Bill Redpath approaches then-chair Kirsten Milligan about assisting WV with national party funds for ballot access. I was secretary of the party at that time. Kirsten discussed it with the executive committee, and the concensus we reached was that since we did not have a gubernatorial candidate for 2008, national party funds would be better spent elsewhere, and that we would pursue ballot access in 2012 when we had a gubernatorial candidate so that we could achieve major party status and never have to petition again.
March 2008: Kirsten Milligan resigns, and I become interim chairman.
April 2008: Russ Verney contacts me about the possibility of the Barr campaign going for ballot access in WV if Barr wins the nomination. He seems enthusiastic, and I am as well. Mr. Verney comes across very well, and I’m genuinely looking forward to working with him on this together at that point.
May 2008: I’m elected chairman for a full term. Tad Britch is elected to replace me as secretary.
May 2008: Several Barr campaign folks speak to me about the possibility of ballot access in WV while I’m in Denver as a delegate, both before and after Barr receives the nomination. Shane Corey and Russ Verney are among them. I ask them to keep in touch moving forward, and state that I’d love to bring out whatever volunteers the state party has available, but that we have very little in the way of funds, and not enough to really pay for petitioners. I state that we would like some training for our volunteers who primarily reside in the north-central area of WV. This is the last time I would be in contact with any Barr campaign staff, however. I mention to Paulie and others that I’d like to have them come petition and party with me in WV if the Barr campaign sends some funds to the state party for ballot access.
June 2008: Towards the very end of June, Jake Witmer contacts me, and says they are petitioning. I mention that I’d like to get some volunteers trained from the state party’s volunteer base. Jake states that he is in Charleston (a few hours south of the north-central area, where we have very few activists and likely no volunteers.) Jake tells me Shane Corey is coming to the Charleston area, and that he’ll be contacting me. I ask if any petitioners are active in northern WV. Jake doesn’t know. Jake sends me some documents including petitions.
July 2008: I’m still in contact with Jake every once in a while. I offer to house petitioners in my home since Morgantown/Fairmont/Clarksburg/Bridgeport is a good area for petitioning. He says he has a friend who might take me up on it if his friend is brought in by the Barr campaign. That never occurs. I also mention that several other members of the state party would likely volunteer couch space or an air-bed. Later on, Jake gives me contact info for Shane who is apparently in Charleston. I am never able to get in contact with Shane, and he never attempts to contact me.
August 2008: The Barr campaign fails to meet its deadlines. Our state party volunteer base was never utilized. Barr also fails to register as a certified write-in candidate, so that write-in votes for Barr would be counted.
September 2008: A state party member calls me, asking about the Barr lawsuit. This is the first I’d heard of it.
Now for some facts. Ballot access is a 2% theshhold of prior-election voters in WV. To achieve major party status (which means you get free ballot access without petitioning) you must have a gubernatorial candidate who receives 1% of the popular vote. After the national convention, the only person who I was ever in contact with regarding the ballot access efforts was Jake Witmer. Jake was not equipped to really do what needed to be done, as a petitioner and not someone with any real authority. In the future, ballot access efforts will be undertaken by the LPWV. I firmly believe this will better serve the interests of LP candidates throughout the state as we move forward. The Constitution Party achieved ballot access by petition in 2008 for their presidential candidate, as did Ralph Nader as an independent. The Green Party affiliate, which is called the Mountain Party, had major party status and did not need to petition.
- Matt Harris, LPWV Chair
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