CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WOWK) — An embattled West Virginia Senate candidate had her day in court on Tuesday. At issue is whether she is a citizen of West Virginia.
State citizenship is determined by a variety of factors. They include income and property tax payments, your driver’s license, residency and vehicle registration and, yes, where you voted.
Andrea Garrett Kiessling is running in the Republican Primary for the 8th District Senate seat. The State Constitution requires that a candidate for office in West Virginia must be a citizen of the state for five years prior to filing for office.
WFXR’s sister station, WOWK, received documents showing that Kiessling lived and voted in North Carolina for most of the past 10 years, even though she says she visited family often in the Mountain State.
A Kanawha County voter filed suit against Kiessling and the Secretary of State’s office, seeking to have Kiessling disqualified as a candidate, saying she has not been a citizen of West Virginia these past five years.
“Over the past five years, did you file a West Virginia income tax return?” asked Anthony Majestro, the attorney for the plaintiff.
“I have in the last two years,” responded Kiessling.
“Ok, prior to that, which state income taxes did you file?” Majestro inquired.
“North Carolina,” Kiessling responded, later adding, “I split my time in that I spent relatively the same amount of time in both states.”
Kanawha County Circuit Judge Duke Bloom asked all parties involved to submit their final briefs by noon Wednesday, indicating he might make a decision soon. It’s possible the case will be appealed to the State Supreme Court, especially if Kiessling is disqualified as a candidate.
Now further adding to the confusion, even if Kiessling is ruled invalid as a candidate, her name remains on the ballot.
And of course, since we’re in early voting, some people have undoubtedly already cast ballots for her. The judge may have some guidance on how that gets handled.