Sore Loser?

Settling Blankenship issue should be expedited

Don Blankenship’s campaign earlier this year for the U.S. Senate from West Virginia certainly made the race a more colorful one. The coal baron, seeking the Republican nomination for the Senate, was strident in his criticism of Manchin — and some in the GOP.

Here we go again — maybe. Blankenship lost the primary election. West Virginia Secretary of State Patrick Morrisey will be the Republican on the ballot for the Senate in November.

But Blankenship has found new political life, courtesy of the Constitution Party. He is seeking to be listed on the ballot as that organization’s nominee for the Senate. On Thursday, however, Secretary of State Mac Warner’s office rejected Blankenship’s candidacy, saying the state’s “Sore Loser” law prevents Blankenship from running.

That could prompt a court fight over whether Warner should certify Blankenship as a candidate. The “sore loser” law is aimed at keeping candidates who lose primary elections from switching parties to get their names on the ballot.

Blankenship insists that is just a strategy to keep him out of the Senate race.

In fact, the question is far from an open-and-shut case. Settling it may require a lawsuit to test both the sore loser law’s constiutionality and whether Blankenship falls under it.

The wheels of justice grind slow, it has been said. It can take years to settle cases such as the one that would result from a lawsuit over Blankenship.

West Virginians do not have that long. In slightly more than three months, we will go to the polls to elect a senator. The mere existance of Blankenship’s effort will affect the race, whether it comes down to Morrisey and Manchin or turns out to be a three-way affair.

Settlement of the Blankenship issue — one way or the other — needs to be expedited. Mountain State residents deserve a clean, clear choice in November, not a blizzard of accusations that someone is trying to “steal” the election.

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