Fayette County Clerk gives possible scenarios of Del. Haynes’ campaign following sexual harassment accusations

Del. Austin Haynes
Del. Austin Haynes(WVVA)
Published: Oct. 26, 2022 at 5:55 PM EDT
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FAYETTE COUNTY, W.Va. (WVVA) - Earlier this week, Beckley attorney Steve New went public about his representation of a woman accusing Delegate Austin Haynes (R-Fayette, 32) of sexually harassing her via text messages, which WVVA shared on air Tuesday. But now, some voters may be wondering what this means for Haynes’ re-election bid for the newly created 50th House of Delegates District.

Fayette County Clerk, Michelle Holly, explains what voters in the 50th District could expect to see if Haynes wins re-election over Democratic candidate, Elliot Pritt.

“If he were to have more votes than his opponent, he could- he could take office,” she shared. “There’s no rule that says he can’t. If he chooses not to take office and he received more votes, then the Republican Party Executive Committee would nominate three people for the governor to fill that vacancy with.”

Holly says the deadline for Haynes to remove his own name from the ballot passed in early August, but that doesn’t mean it is impossible for his name to be taken off.

“At that point, the only real way for a name to be removed from the ballot is by an order through the Circuit Court. That happened in the Primary [Election] in Kanawha County with a delegate...”

However, Holly adds this scenario is very unlikely for several reasons:

“With early voting having already started and absentees having already started, there would have to be a lot of compelling evidence for any judge...if it were- if it were filed in Circuit Court for the judge to actually rule for us to remove the name at this late date.”

Then, there is also the possibility Haynes wins and chooses to take office...

“If he were to win and then were to take office, I mean that, you know, there are other things that could possibly happen, but that’s not for me to say. That’s far down the road, and that’s a bunch of ifs.”

The person with the authority to speak on what could happen for Haynes following the election is the state’s top election official, the West Virginia Secretary of State. WVVA has reached out to that office and is awaiting a response.

What is certain right now is that voting in the election is already underway, and the winners will emerge on November 8.

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