CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Charlotte Pritt, a former member of the state Senate and House of Delegates, was elected chairwoman of West Virginia's Mountain Party at its annual conference in Sutton last Sunday.In a news release, Pritt said the Mountain Party provides "choice in the 2012 election cycle. It allows progressive West Virginians of all party affiliations to be represented in the voting process this November."In 1996, Pritt won the Democratic Party's gubernatorial nomination against current Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., in the May primary. She lost to Republican Cecil Underwood in the November general election.Pritt said the Mountain Party was originally organized by people who backed her campaign for governor in the 1992 Democratic primary against Gaston Caperton.
Caperton defeated Pritt in the primary, then won his second term as governor in the November 1992 general election.That fall, Pritt said, some of the "progressives" who backed her in the primary organized a write-in campaign supporting her for governor. Pritt said she got 6 percent of the vote, which helped form the Mountain Party."Although I maintained my Democratic status to work with the progressives in the Democrat Party, my voting record has always reflected the perspective of all progressives ... of all party affiliations."This fall, she said, the Mountain Party will focus on electing state and local candidates."Progressives within the Mountain Party will be voting for Green Party candidate Jill Stein or Democratic candidate President Barack Obama."But, Pritt added, "progressives, whether Independent, Republican, or Democrat have no intention of voting for either Earl Ray Tomlin or Bill Maloney in the governor's race nor Joe Manchin or John Raese in the U.S. Senate race."This year's Mountain Party candidates include former Ripley Mayor Bob Henry Baber, who is running for U.S. Senate, and Jesse Johnson, a frequent Mountain Party nominee who is running for governor.Reach Paul J. Nyden at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-5164.