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Inmate won't get any W.Va. presidential delegates

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Although his 72,544 votes in Tuesday's presidential primary theoretically could have secured at least 13 delegates to the Democratic National Convention for Texas inmate Keith Judd, state party officials said Wednesday that won't happen.Judd, an inmate serving a 210-month term at the Federal Correctional Institution in Texarkana, Texas, is not eligible to have delegates to the convention in Charlotte, N.C., because of procedural omissions, state Democratic Party Executive Director Derek Scarbro said Wednesday."It's a moot point because no one filed to be a delegate for him," Scarbro said.Any Democrat wanting to be a delegate to the national convention had to file a statement of candidacy and a statement designing which presidential candidate he is supporting with the state Democratic Executive Committee by 5 p.m. on Election Day.In addition to no one filing to be a Judd delegate, the Texas inmate also failed to submit a letter to the executive committee designating his state representative, as required, by Feb. 10. Also, Scarbro said, it is unclear whether Judd filed required paperwork with the Democratic National Committee."We're still researching that paperwork that he may or may not have filed with the national party," Scarbro said.On June 8, 36 of West Virginia's 50 delegates to the Democratic National Convention will be selected at the state Democratic Executive Committee meeting in Charleston. Those delegates are committed to candidates on a proportional basis, based on Tuesday's election returns.Based on the returns, Judd theoretically would have received four of the nine at-large delegates, based on statewide returns.The remaining 27 delegates are divided among the state's three congressional districts, based on primary election returns within each of the districts. Scarbro said party officials had not attempted to determine how many delegates Judd theoretically would have received, based on the returns by district."We haven't done the hypothetical," he said.Judd carried 10 of 55 counties Tuesday, including Boone, Lincoln, Logan, Mingo, Webster and Wyoming in the 3rd Congressional District.West Virginia Wesleyan political science professor Robert Rupp said he does not expect much voter backlash over the party's decision not to award delegates to Judd, since votes for Judd almost certainly were strictly protest votes against President Barack Obama."My guess is 90 percent of the voters didn't know he was a convict," Rupp said of Judd receiving 41 percent of the vote in the presidential primary.
Also known as Inmate #11593-051 and serving a lengthy prison term for extortion, running for public office appears to be one of Judd's jailhouse hobbies. He last got on a presidential ballot in 2008, receiving 1.7 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary in Idaho.
Rupp said he was surprised party officials did not publicize Judd's background prior to Tuesday's primary."All they had to do is release a little blurb," he said of Judd's criminal record.State Democratic Party Chairman Larry Puccio said he did not believe that is the party's role, but agreed that votes for Judd were strictly protest votes."I would imagine 99 percent of the people had no idea this gentleman is serving time," he said.Puccio said he believes some Democrats wanted to send a message to Obama in May, but will reunite behind the party against Republican Mitt Romney in November. Democrats own a solid voter registration advantage in the state, although it has eroded in recent years, and Judd received nearly as many votes as Romney on Tuesday."From what I've heard and understand, many of these folks are just frustrated with this administration's stands on coal and energy," Puccio said. "They were simply sending a message to the president and his administration."
Besides creating a field day for national political pundits, Rupp questioned what impact Obama's poor showing Tuesday will have on November elections statewide.In addition to the 72,544 protest votes, he noted that more than 20,000 Democrats who voted in the U.S. Senate and governor's races Tuesday did not cast a vote for president."When you have a Democratic (U.S.) senator and Democratic governor not only not supporting the president, but actively distancing themselves, what kind of message does that send to the rank-and-file?" Rupp asked.Outgoing state Republican Party Chairman Mike Stuart said he has mixed feelings about the primary results. On one hand, he thinks it bodes well for Republican candidates statewide in the general election."No question after [Tuesday] that Obama is an iron weight on the leg of the Democratic Party in West Virginia," said Stuart, who will be replaced as state chairman on Saturday.However, as a West Virginia resident, Stuart said, "I'm embarrassed for West Virginia over how foolish we look."Reach Phil Kabler at or 304-348-1220.
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