West Virginia primary ballot included felon, Virginia’s lacked candidates
A convicted felon not only made West Virginia’s Democratic primary ballot, he won 72,544 – or 41 percent – of votes in the contest against Democratic President Barack Obama, and could receive at least one of the state’s delegates to the Democratic National Convention this summer.
The inmate, Keith Judd, is serving a 17-1/2 year sentence at a federal prison in Texas for making threats at the University of New Mexico in 1999.
Judd’s performance was taken as a sign of deep animosity in West Virginia toward Obama, who was handily defeated in the state’s 2008 primary by Hillary Clinton and lost there by 13 percentage points to Republican John McCain in the general election. Joe Manchin, the state’s former governor who is now a Democratic senator, declined to say on Tuesday whether he had voted for Obama.
On Tuesday, Judd beat Obama in nine of West Virginia’s 55 counties. Republican party officials, aides and strategists emailed and tweeted with glee about Judd’s performance, and the Associated Press headlined its story, “Against Obama, even a jailbird gets some votes.”
The inmate’s performance also highlighted the sharp differences across the country in rules for running for office. While Judd, a convicted felon, made his way onto West Virginia’s ballot, leading Republican presidential candidates Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum were unable to satisfy the complicated requirements to get onto the ballot to compete in the Republican primary in neighboring Virginia on March 6.
Mitt Romney, now the presumptive Republican nominee, and Texas Congressman Ron Paul were the only two Republican contenders who made it onto the Virginia primary ballot. The others’ failure was taken as a sign of their campaigns’ disorganization.
To run in the Virginia primary, a candidate must submit 10,000 signatures, including at least 400 from each of the state’s 11 congressional districts. And everyone who collects signatures must be an eligible or registered qualified voter in Virginia.
In contrast, Judd ran in West Virginia by filling out a form and paying a $2,500 filing fee, according to the website Ballot Access News.
Despite his record, Judd has made repeated forays into presidential politics. In 2008, when he was also a prisoner, Judd appeared on Idaho’s Democratic primary ballot, receiving 734 votes.
Picture credit: Manchin and Obama in Washington in 2010. REUTERS/Jason Reed.