CHARLESTON - The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals will hear arguments Wednesday in the case involving former state senator Frank Deem's candidacy for the 3rd Senate Seat.
Sen. Donna Boley, R-Pleasants, filed a petition seeking Deem's removal from the primary ballot because of a provision in the West Virginia Constitution allowing only one senator per county in multi-county senatorial districts.
Boley and Sen. David Nohe, R-Wood, are the senators for District 3. Deem was defeated by Nohe in the 2010 election and has filed to run against Boley in this year's election.
Deem's lawyers argue the state Constitution's residency requirement denies Wood County citizens in the 3rd Senatorial District an opportunity to run for the Senate. The district covers Wood and Pleasants counties.
The West Virginia Secretary of State's office certified Deem's candidacy despite the provision in the state Constitution. Spokesman Jake Glance said the secretary of state does not rule on legal or constitutional challenges, but rather certifies who has filed in time, filed completely and paid the filing fee. Challenges to a candidate's eligibility can be made in court, he said.
On Feb. 15, Boley filed a writ of mandamus against Secretary of State Natalie Tennant and Deem seeking to have her withdraw her office's certification of Deem's candidacy and declare him ineligible to run.
In her response to Boley's petition, Tennant argued the court need not and should not discuss the issue of the secretary's powers and duties with respect to candidate eligibility determination for placement on the ballot.
A Senate bill has been introduced this year to allow the secretary of state to reject such candidacies because of the situation in Wood County. Senate Bill 533 has been in the Judiciary Committee since it was introduced Feb. 7.