Charleston, W.Va. – Kanawha County Circuit Judge Louis Duke Bloom ruled today that Commissioner of Agriculture candidate Walter Helmick can stay on the ballot in 2012.
Petitioner L. Joe Starcher said Helmick, who is also a State Senator, did not meet the requirement for the office laid out in West Virginia code section 19-1-2. That section of code says “The commissioner shall be a practical farmer, learned in the science of agriculture, and shall have made agriculture his chief business for a period of ten years immediately preceding his election.”
However, in Judge Bloom’s order, he has ruled West Virginia code section 19-1-2 unconstitutional and not relevant to Senator Helmick’s candidacy. The Judge found that “the West Virginia Constitution does not establish authority for the Legislature to prescribe by law additional qualifications for the office of Commissioner of Agriculture…”
“We appreciate the timely fashion in which Judge Bloom gave resolution to the challenge to a candidate’s ability to appear on the ballot. We are facing a March 23 deadline to have ballots designed, proofed, printed and delivered,” said Secretary of State Natalie E. Tennant. “This ruling determines that this section of code is unconstitutional, but could be appealed to the West Virginia Supreme Court.”
To see the certified list of candidates for the 2012 primary election, visit the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office at www.wvsos.com and click on the banner at the top of the page.
The primary election in West Virginia is May 8, with early voting in person beginning April 25.