Editorials, Opinion

Stop self-serving party switches

As we said last week, we aren’t fond of the idea that candidates should have to run as the party on their voter registration, because that could disadvantage candidates who are registered Independents. (Even though Independents make up about a quarter of West Virginia’s registered voters, candidates running as Independents or on a third-party ticket tend to struggle in partisan races.) That said, we’re tired of politicians switching parties to help themselves get elected.

Don Blankenship, who has long been involved in Republican politics and who has run for office as both a Republican and a third-party candidate (and lost), is now running for U.S. Senate as a Democrat.

The reason why is obvious, and it has nothing to do with his ideology: He wouldn’t stand a chance in the Republican primary with both Jim Justice and Alex Mooney already on the ballot.

He’s likely hoping name recognition will give him the edge on the Democratic ballot against a slate of newcomers and local officeholders. Of course, his name is widely known because he went to prison in relation to the 2010 explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine that killed 29 workers.

There’s nothing wrong with a candidate not ascribing to every single one of a party’s tenets. Joe Manchin certainly doesn’t, but his values and those of the people who elected him at least overlap with parts of the national Democratic Party’s platform. Blankenship would bring a whole new meaning to the term “DINO” — “Democrat in Name Only.”

When a politician puts an “R” or “D” next to their name, they are signaling what they stand for, and that helps voters decide if that candidate is right to represent them. When candidates run as a party they share no common ground with, or switch parties immediately after election, they are betraying voters and eroding trust in our political system. So many people are already disillusioned about the power of their vote and the intentions of our governmental institutions to serve anyone but themselves. Politicians pulling self-serving stunts like this only make it worse.