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W.Va. Supreme Court Rules Republican Will Be Appointed to Senate

West Virginia Legislative Photography
Senate President Bill Cole and House Speaker Tim Armstead.

Republicans will maintain their majority in the state Senate after the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals  issued an order Friday morning.

The order calls on Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to appoint a Republican to replace former Sen. Daniel Hall who resigned this month.

Hall was a member of the GOP when he resigned the seat, but was elected to the chamber as a Democrat. He switched party affiliations after midterm elections in 2014, giving Republicans an 18-16 majority in the Senate. 

The West Virginia Democratic Party brought the case after Hall's resignation, asking Justices to order Tomblin to appoint a Democrat to fill the vacancy. Democrats claimed the code was ambiguous on the issue of appointing a replacement from the party Hall was a member of at the time of his resignation or at the time of his election.

The party's attorney, Anthony Majestro, argued before the court a Democrat should be appointed to protect the will of the voters. 

Justices denied the writ Friday. Justice Brent Benjamin had recused himself from the case.

Tomblin said in a written statement Friday he will abide by the court's ruling and appoint a Republican to the chamber.

Ashton Marra covers the Capitol for West Virginia Public Radio and can be heard weekdays on West Virginia Morning, the station’s daily radio news program. Ashton can also be heard Sunday evenings as she brings you state headlines during NPR’s weekend edition of All Things Considered. She joined the news team in October of 2012.

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