According to an article published today on WVGazzetteMail.com, the Mountain Party of West Virginia, the state affiliate of the national Green Party, has selected Charlotte Pritt as its 2016 candidate for governor. Pritt, aged 67, served as a Democratic Party member of the West Virginia House of Delegates from 1984 to 1988. From 1988 to 1996, she served in the West Virginia State Senate. She was the chairwoman of the Mountain Party from 2012 (when the party had 1,345 registered voters) to 2014.
In 1996, Pritt made history by becoming the first woman to win a major party’s nomination for governor in West Virginia. Pritt bested her closest rival in the Democratic Party, Joe Manchin (who was later elected governor and currently represents the Mountain State in the United States Senate) by seven percentage points. Challenging the incumbent governor Cecil H. Underwood and Libertarian candidate Wallace Johnson, Pritt earned 45.8% of the vote in the general election. She had previously been the runner-up candidate in the 1992 Democratic gubernatorial primary.
Pritt, who earned a master’s degree in English from Marshall University in 1976 and is a former high school English teacher as well as a college professor, currently serves as the president of a health and wellness consulting firm named Better Balance LLC. According to her Facebook profile, Pritt is the daughter of a coal miner and has been a writer and poet during the course of her life. The newly minted Mountain Party gubernatorial candidate also describes her interest in studying stress management and brain development, saying that she possesses “cutting edge information concerning fields as diverse as ADD/ADHD, Autism, Dyslexia, Early postural and primitive reflexes, Gifted and/or Special needs children and adults.” Pritt writes that working in conjunction with different schools to assist them in reducing behavorial issues and improving students’ test scores has been “especially rewarding” for her.
In the fall of 2011, Pritt publicly expressed her support for the Occupy Wall Street movement; the video of her praising the “occupiers” and their reasons for engaging in protests may be the only video prominently (or at all) featuring Pritt on YouTube:
The Mountain Party platform emphasizes grassroots democracy. It is also very keen on ecological issues such as transitioning from fossil fuels to alternative energy sources in a state whose economic backbone has traditionally been coal mining. The party is in staunch opposition to what the party terms as barriers that get in the way of the platform’s call for “social justice and equal opportunity” such as racism, sexism, homophobia and “class oppression;” however, the party promotes a policy of non-violence to achieve its goals, and demilitarization and elimination of nuclear weaponry are key components of this tenet. The Mountain Party lists ten specific points in its current platform, which include opposition to free trade agreements such as NAFTA and GATT, a progressive tax code, instituting a proportional electoral system, requiring citizen initiatives on proposed state gambling initiatives, support for the unionization and collective bargaining rights of employees, elimination of mountain top removal coal mining and clear-cutting of forests, and a major overhaul of election law that would entail public financing of elections, open debates and free media air time for all candidates, same day voter registration and instant runoff voting.
According to Politics1.com, in addition to running against the major party gubernatorial nominees, of which she was once herself 20 years ago, Pritt will be competing with Constitution Party candidate Phil Hudok, Libertarian Party candidate (and former “major party” state legislator himself) David Moran, and four independent candidates: Jim Brennan, Quintin Caldwell, Tyler Cloud Dixon and Carroll Duane Garnes, Jr.
Given how recent this news is, the Mountain Party of West Virginia has not, at the time of this posting, issued a formal press release or published a Facebook post regarding Pritt’s selection; likewise, Pritt does not yet posses a campaign website or campaign Facebook page.
With an experienced former state lawmaker who once came within 6 percentage points of being elected the state’s first female governor representing the state Green Party affiliate as its standard bearer for the upcoming election, the Mountain Party will likely be looking to surpass the record 4.46% showing set by its 2008 gubernatorial nominee, Jesse Johnson, a seemingly achievable feat in a state whose last Republican governor left office in 2001, just four years after narrowly defeating Charlotte Pritt, a woman now poised now poised to make third party history as a part of what was once the state’s third largest political party.