CHARLESTON, WV (LOOTPRESS) – Apparently becoming more decisive since last week, state Republican Chair Mark Harris said today he will not seek appointment to the state House of Delegates when a vacancy occurs.
Asked last week at a meeting of the Raleigh County Republican Executive Committee if he would seek appointment to an anticipated vacancy in the House, Harris was non-committal. When Raleigh Republican Delegate Brandon Steele posed that question to him, he said he had not made up his mind.
After a week, Harris made up his mind — or had it made up for him.
Raleigh Republican Delegate Jeffrey Pack had earlier announced that he would be resigning to accept employment with the state Department of Health and Human Resources. That meant any Republicans living in the 28th Delegate District was eligible to replace him. Harris, the disputed state chair, resides in the Raleigh portion of the district.
Rumors quickly spread that Harris, who many believe was chosen state chair in March in a tainted vote. Those possessing audio copies of the meeting maintain an accurate count of the votes for party chair favored former Chair Conrad Lucas over Harris by one vote.
Nevertheless, Harris was declared the winner and has served in that role since.
Before being elected state chair, Harris was mysteriously chosen as Raleigh County GOP Chair last year. This came after Harris, a medical doctor, resigned his chief of staff position at Beckley Veterans Administration Medical Center during a sexual assault scandal.
Although more than 70 patients and/or their families maintained they were sexually abused, Harris was said to be cleared of any wrongdoing by himself and the VA although he was involved in hiring Dr. Jonathan Yates, who perpetrated the crimes against the vets.
Harris was equally non-committal about seeking the House appointment when he appeared on the Tom Roten Morning Show earlier this week.
However, his statement withdrawing from consideration did not come long after Steele appeared on the Roten Show and criticized Harris for even considering the House appointment.
Steele said Harris’ potential appointment “would cause irreparable harm between the legislature and the governor.”
A few hours later, Harris formally withdrew from consideration. “I will not submit my name for an open seat resulting from Jeff Pack’s impending resignation. I love serving as chairman of the West Virginia Republican Party and we are fully focused on victory in 2022 and 2024.”
It is possible that Harris’ deep love for the chair job came after Steele appeared on the Roten Show.
Most capitol observers said Governor Jim Justice would never appoint Harris even if his name was one of three submitted by the 28th Delegate District Executive Committee. Reminded that Justice and his Chief of Staff Brian Abraham pressured the state Executive committee to name Harris as state chair, one observer said, “That was only because Conrad Lucas was the only other choice.”
Harris did resign as Raleigh chair at last week’s county committee meeting. Thus, he no longer serves as both county and state chair.