Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

WV State News

March 5, 2013

Former GOP candidate can seek W.Va. sheriff’s post

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. — Jefferson County will soon have a sheriff to replace the Democrat who resigned in disgrace, and his Republican rival from last fall is among the contenders.

Earl Ballenger changed his party affiliation to Democrat just 22 days before he applied for the chance to replace Robert Shirley. Shirley is awaiting sentencing for violating the civil rights of a bank robber beaten after a 2010 police chase.

But state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey says it doesn’t matter how long Ballenger has been a Democrat. He’s still eligible for appointment.

The County Commission is voting on a replacement Tuesday.

The new sheriff will serve until the 2014 general election. The winner would then fill Shirley’s unexpired term, which ends in 2016.  

Shirley was re-elected in November even as he faced federal charges.

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