CHARLESTON -- The West Virginia Chamber of Commerce has joined the chorus of officials and groups that endorse a primary election for governor this spring.

"We think that every West Virginian should have the opportunity to select which candidate will represent their political party on the special election ballot," Chamber President Steve Roberts said Wednesday in a statement. "A primary election will open the selection process up and provide the utmost transparency, which is exactly how government should function."

Without a primary, Roberts said, "Our West Virginia soldiers serving oversees will not be able to participate in the selection of West Virginia's next governor at the primary level. This by itself makes a compelling case to allow the public to vote."

Roberts said the choice is clear.

"Either we let the politicians pick candidates behind the scenes in a convoluted convention or we do this the American way and let the people vote," he said.

The state Supreme Court issued an opinion last week calling for a special election to take place this year. State law currently calls for party conventions in the event of a special gubernatorial election, but a bill in the Legislature would change that to force a primary this spring.

"A primary election is the most American way to choose the candidates for the special election," Roberts said. "A primary election guarantees the elimination of backroom deals that do not serve the best interests of all West Virginians or guarantee the selection of the best candidates for the office of governor."

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