Lessons from our Democratic presidential primary

The whole thing would be funny if it had happened in another state. Why did it have to happen in West Virginia and make us the laughingstock of the nation once again? How did a patently unqualified person get his name on the ballot for our Democratic presidential primary and rack up so many votes? Granted, he's the incumbent, but still ... (Little joke there except to those who question the current president's eligibility for the office he already occupies.) Actually, what we're lamenting is the presence on the ballot of a Texas jailbird, a convicted felon who garnered 41 percent of the vote in our Democratic primary without ever leaving his prison cell in a distant state. How well might inmate Keith Judd have done if he'd had Air Force One at his disposal. A weekend furlough and a round-trip bus ticket to Charleston for a rally and a couple of press releases could have tipped the race in his favor. Secretary of State Natalie Tennant and state Attorney General Darrell McGraw are taking a lot of flak over this latest embarrassment. Tennant is stoical. "It's not the first time a felon has been on the West Virginia ballot for president," she asserts, putting the stamp of custom on our comedy. "From 1992 to 2004, Lyndon LaRouche was on each of the presidential year ballots, despite being a convicted felon." In short, our state sets a low bar for ballot access and Judd stepped over it. Should we require would-be presidential candidates to submit something more substantial than a notarized certificate of candidacy and a nominal filing fee? Should Tennant and McGraw show some initiative and recommend to the state legislature ways to strengthen those requirements? Maybe they think they have more important things to do. Here's betting President Obama doesn't agree with them.

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