Auvil concedes, Stemple wins House nomination

PHILIPPI -Ken Auvil conceded the election Friday before the official recount was completed, paving the way for Tamula “Tammy” Stemple to win the Democratic nomination for the District 44 House of Delegates seat.

Stemple picked up two additional votes in the Tucker County recount Friday morning, but no changes were discovered during the partial recount of Barbour County votes Friday, which ran from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“Of course I’m relieved,” Stemple said Friday afternoon. “It’s been a long struggle and I’ve been worrying about it for the past two and a half weeks. I’m glad it’s over.”

Auvil requested the recount, after unofficial totals from the May 13 primary election showed Stemple, of Philippi, receiving 702 votes, and Auvil, of Belington, totaling 701.

Auvil requested a recount of precincts 2, 3, 4, 8, 12, 15, and 16 out of the 16 precincts in Barbour County. The Barbour precincts were counted in order Friday per his request. After the recount of Precinct 8 was finished and the deputy clerks and county commissioners were ready to call it a day at 5 p.m. and resume on a later date, Auvil decided instead to concede and congratulate Stemple.

“The last precincts are very small, so the chance for error here is very minimal,” Auvil said, later adding, “I’m satisfied. It was a close call. You could look forever for variations.”

“It’s been a long process and, of course, I’ve been nervous and anxious,” Stemple said. “I would like to thank the county clerks and county commissioners and all the people who helped with this recount in Barbour and Tucker County. I know it’s added a lot of work, and I appreciate all that they’ve done.”

All the precincts Auvil chose for the recount were ones in which he led on primary election day. He said he selected those under the assumption that if there was a discrepancy, it would likely be in his favor. However, he said that Barbour County’s votes were cast on machines and Tucker’s results were the most likely to change during the recount.

In Tucker County, Auvil requested a recount of voting precincts 3, 4 and 5 out of the four Tucker precincts for District 44. The recount was conducted by members of the Tucker County Commission and Chief Deputy Shelley Bolyard, with Tucker County Clerk Sherry Simmons. June Greenhalgh served as the collection officer.

The original numbers showed Auvil received 181 votes in Tucker County, which was confirmed by the recount. Stemple picked up two additional votes because of “voter intent,” moving her vote count in Tucker County from 137 to 139. Eloise Hollen, of Elkins, represented Stemple during the recount in Tucker County. Auvil sent no representative to Tucker County for the recount.

“I think it’s unfair as hard of campaigns as we’ve had, both of us,” Auvil said. “I felt that those people who supported me needed me to follow through, make sure the results are correct, whatever they are. We need to know that. It would be unfair not to say to my supporters we need to be sure the count is right. It’s one vote… It needed to be clear in the voter’s mind that there was a good count on the vote.”

“I understood it (Auvil’s request to recount the votes). Of course I didn’t necessarily want to have to go through it,” Stemple said, “but I understood the process.”

“He’s a formidable candidate, worked very hard,” Stemple said.

“I think it’s also prepared us to meet another formidable candidate.”

Stemple will continue to the general election this November against Republican nominee Danny Wagner, who she said was her cousin.

The recount was the first to be requested in Barbour County since a sheriff’s election in the 1970s, according to both Auvil and Barbour County Clerk Macel Auvil.

“Virgil Poling (won) and then he died before he could take office,” Macel Auvil said. “His wife was appointed then.”