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Don Blankenship

Don Blankenship files to run for Congress in the Secretary of State’s office Tuesday, Jan. 23.

Reprinted from The Journal, Martinsburg

Politics can be a messy business, especially when election season rolls around. Candidates often take out attack advertisements against each other, sometimes ignoring platforms of their campaigns in favor of focusing on tearing down their opponents.

It can be quite cutthroat, so it’s important to make sure we have laws and guidelines in place to ensure a fair election.

One of those laws — the sore loser law — in West Virginia has recently garnered attention. Don Blankenship, who lost the GOP primary for the U.S. Senate race to Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, recently collected signatures in order to run for the same office under affiliation with the Constitution Party.

Even with the signatures, Blankenship may be blocked from running for the office. A spokesman for the Office of the Secretary of State said it cannot rule on Blankenship’s candidacy until he files all the necessary nomination and candidacy paperwork, including more than 6,000 signatures.

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According to a guide book listed on the West Virginia Secretary of State website, “candidates affiliated with a recognized political party who run for election in a primary election and who lose the nomination cannot change her or his voter registration to a minor party organization/unaffiliated candidate to take advantage of the later filing deadlines and have their name on the subsequent general election ballot.”

Aside from how one feels about any of the candidates, it’s important to recognize why a law like this matters to our democracy.

The purpose of being an elected official is to represent constituents and act in the best interest of those you represent. Oftentimes, unfortunately, those running for office lose sight of that job description.

The sore loser law has the ability to keep politicians in check and limit the steps they can take just to be elected. So, if someone is fairly defeated in a primary but chooses to attempt to throw the standards of democratic elections aside, a law like this can stand in the way and protect citizens.

Our political landscape is not perfect, but laws like this make a solid effort to level the playing ground and keep those running for office in line with the democratic principles and values.

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