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Harrison GOP slate blank, so far

by John Miller

MANAGING EDITOR

Local political experts believe the upcoming primary could be very interesting -- at least on the Democratic ticket.

Bill Reynolds, chairman of the Harrison County Democrat Executive Committee, said he sees at least three races "heating up" before the May 9 election.

But while Democrats may have plenty of names to choose from, the Republican side of the ticket may be blank.

"I know this sounds terrible, but I'm not sure anyone will file," said Nancy Scardina, chairperson of the Republican Executive Committee. "I hope it changes, but everybody says it's too hard to be elected as a Republican."

There are more than 27,000 registered Democrats in Harrison County and 11,604 Republicans. More than 2,200 are registered as Independents, but Republicans who win in the primary lose out in the general election because too many people vote a straight ticket, according to Scardina.

Scardina says there are usually some Republicans who file for the primary, but she hasn't heard from any who plan to file this year.

"You hear a lot about a third party in West Virginia," Scardina said, "but we don't need a third party. Right now we're not a two-party state."

Of course, the state does have a Republican governor and other area counties routinely elect Republicans.

But history has not been kind to Republican candidates in Harrison County.

"We're working to change that," Scardina said. "But it's going to take some time."

n n n

While the Republicans hope to have some candidates to choose from, the Democratic ticket is beginning to fill up. As of Friday, 28 had registered for various positions.

"It looks like the big race is going to be for sheriff," Reynolds said. "There's a lot of interest and there's going to be several candidates to choose from.

"It will probably take between 2,500 to 3,000 votes to win the nomination in that race."

Harrison County Circuit Clerk Donnie Kopp said it may only take 2,000 votes.

"There are 27,747 registered Democrats in the county, but not that many vote," Kopp said. "Even for a big election, you can probably only expect 40 percent."

That means only about 11,000 voters could determine the Democratic candidate for sheriff in the general election. And the votes could be split among at least four candidates and probably as many as six.

"I hear there's at least one more Democrat who's going to run," Kopp said.

Reynolds said the races for prosecuting attorney and the new judgeship will also attract a great deal of attention.

"I think the race for prosecuting attorney is going to be a tight one," Reynolds said.

Long-time prosecuting attorney Ed Matko is retiring, which opens the field for that position.

Matko is running for the third judge's position in the county. He will be contested by at least two veteran lawyers, Jim Matish and Pete Conley.

In the past, two races that usually attract more attention are for magistrate and House of Delegates.

As of Friday, only six people had filed for five magistrate positions and only six candidates had filed for the four House of Delegates slots.

Kopp said those races usually attract more than 10 candidates each.

"Of course, we still have a week for people to file," Kopp said. "And we'll be open next Saturday (Jan. 29) until 4 p.m. for people to file."

All candidates must file in person, or have their application postmarked, by the Jan. 29 deadline to be eligible, Kopp said.

John Miller can be reached at 626-1473 or by e-mail at cpcnews@earthlink.net.

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