CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – The controversy over whether a State Senate candidate is eligible to run in the election has come to a head.
On May 4, Judge Louis H. Bloom ordered Secretary of State Mac Warner to withdraw his certification of candidacy of Andrea Kiessling, declaring her ineligible to run for the West Virginia State Senate.
Court proceedings began yesterday, Tuesday, May 3, just one week before West Virginia’s primary election after a Kanawha County voter sued to get Andrea Kiessling removed from the May 10 Republican ballot for State Senate District 8 over questions about her West Virginia citizenship.
Mac Warner, secretary of state, and Patrick Morrissey, attorney general are also named in the lawsuit with Kiessling.
The concerns began when one of Kiessling’s opponents, Joshua Higginbotham, made a claim that she claims has not lived in West Virginia for the necessary five years prior to filing. Kiessling has said that she she has worked and voted in North Carolina over the past few years. But she maintains that she is a citizen of West Virginia.
The State Constitution requires that a candidate for office in West Virginia must be a citizen of the state for five years prior to filing for office.
13 News received documents showing that Kiessling lived and voted in North Carolina for most of the past 10 years, even though she says she visited family often in the Mountain State. In court Tuesday, Kiessling said she has filed income tax returns in West Virginia for the past two years, and had filed in North Carolina before then.
“I split my time in that I spent relatively the same amount of time in both states,” Kiessling said in court Tuesday.
Early voting is already underway, meaning Kiessling’s name is already on the ballot and she may have already received votes. Senate District 8 includes Roane and Clay counties as well as portions of Kanawha, Putnam and Jackson counties. The county clerks will have to notify voters of Kiessling’s ineligibility because her name is on the ballot.
“It just means we’ll have some work we’ve got to have done. We’ll have to put signs out in all of the precincts that are involved in this ruling,” said Kanawha County Clerk Vera McCormick. “And we’ll have to do that. There’s 61 precincts.”
WOWK 13 News reached out to Kiessling and her campaign advisor about whether they will appeal the ruling to the West Virginia Supreme Court, but we have not heard back at this time.
A spokesperson for Secretary of State Mac Warner said today the secretary and all election workers will comply with Judge Bloom’s order to disqualify Kiessling’s candidacy.