CHARLESTON, WV (LOOTPRESS) – An unexpectedly successful write-in campaign in 2020 did not create a new state political party, according to an opinion issued today by Attorney General Patrick Morrisey.
At issue was whether write-in Governor candidate Marshall Wilson established a new political party for ballot purposes by getting more than 1% of the 2020 governor vote.
Morrisey said he did not respond to a request for a legal opinion. Secretary of State Mac Warner made the request. Wilson, a former Eastern Panhandle legislator, ran as an “independent write-in candidate” for governor.
He received a little over one percent of the total vote in the race that re-elected Republican Governor Jim Justice. Shortly thereafter, Wilson began saying that his performance had created a new “Independent Party.”
Wilson based his claim on a provision in state law that recognizes ballot access for parties that receive more than one percent of the vote.
Critics said Wilson was capitalizing on a generic name to catapult his candidacy into a valid party.
“For decades, running as an ‘independent’ meant you shunned organized parties,” said one observer. “Now Marshall wants to make the anti-party into a party? That’s wrong.” Morrisey agreed.
“Under the facts you have described, there appears to be no evidence that a group of voters affiliated with a principle or organization chose the write-in candidate as their candidate for Governor in the 2020 General Election,” Morrisey wrote.
“It is not enough that the individual in question filed a certificate of announcement as a write-in candidate and received over 1% of the votes cast for Governor. In other words, a ‘party’ that did not exist before the election cannot be recognized after an individual candidate performs well on Election Day. Instead, Section 3-1-8 reflects the notion that a political party is bigger than any one candidate,” Morrisey concluded.
Wilson had gone so far as to advertise a “convention” of his new “Independent Party” earlier this year.