W.Va. governor would appoint Democrat to Senate vacancy

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) – Unless the state Supreme Court rules otherwise, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin intends to appoint a Democrat to a Senate vacancy that could deadlock the chamber.

The Democratic governor’s Supreme Court brief Monday says replacing former Republican Sen. Daniel Hall with a Democrat would honor the will of the voters and avoid a constitutional challenge.

The Supreme Court will resolve the discrepancy. GOP Attorney General Patrick Morrisey issued an opinion favoring a Republican appointment.

Hall resigned for an NRA job.

The Wyoming County ex-lawmaker was elected as a Democratic senator in 2012 and turned Republican after the 2014 elections, breaking a tie and giving Republicans an 18-16 majority. State code is ambiguous about replacing someone who flipped parties.

A Democratic appointment would deadlock the Senate. The 60-day legislative session starts Wednesday.

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