LOGAN, W.Va. — Joshua Butcher won the election contest which left the race for Logan County circuit judge in limbo.
Current circuit judge Douglas Witten filed an official notice of election contest with the clerk of the House of Delegates June 6 after results of a recount left Butcher and Witten within 59 votes of each other.
Witten based his election contest on a series of alleged violations of election law including a breach of electioneering laws and other irregularities like inconsistencies between the number of votes cast and the number of signatures in the poll books.
The state code dealing with election contests for circuit judges states a three person panel should hear and decide the case for a contested election.
In such a case, the governor and each party of the contested election would choose a member of the panel.
Tomblin selected Charleston lawyer James S. Arnold.
Witten chose John Counts, who served as treasurer of his campaign.
Joshua Butcher selected former U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin.
The election contest was heard by the tribunal in Logan County Circuit Court August 23, and the tribunal issued their decision October 17.
Ryan Donovan, judge-elect Butcher’s attorney released the following statement concerning the victory:
“This is first and foremost a victory for the people of Logan County, who should never have had to wait this long for their votes to count. Second, it’s a big victory for Judge-elect Butcher, a political outsider who won against all odds with nothing but a positive message, a sterling reputation, and a lot of shoe leather. We are grateful for the Special Court’s hard work and attention. Their well-reasoned decision confirms what we’ve said from the start: this was a frivolous contest. Even Judge Witten’s choice for the Special Court—his own campaign treasurer—found in Judge-elect Butcher’s favor on two of three counts. We hope Judge Witten will take that as a sign to drop his Quixotic lawsuit and let the will of the voters stand.”
Judge-elect Joshua Butcher added the following:
“The last five months since the election have been long and difficult, but my faith in the Lord and the prayers of my family has carried us through. The support shown to me through this process has been overwhelming. It has been encouraging to see the voters of Logan County not only stand up for me, but stand up for what is right and to protect their right to vote. People cannot fully realize what their prayers and encouraging words mean to me and my family. I have had so many stop me on the street and tell me that they now wish they had voted for me after seeing what has transpired.
When someone makes accusations and attacks your character or your family’s character, it is very hurtful. It is even more hurtful to see innocent voters and poll workers attacked over good-faith errors. It feels good knowing that two former federal prosecutors heard the facts, researched the law, and determined that we won this election fair and square.”
Owen Wells is a reporter for Civitas Media. He can be reached at 304-752-6950 ext. 1729 or by email at [email protected]