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Two more candidates join race for W.Va. governor

June 21, 2011

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — An independent and a Morgantown, W.Va., man who believes the white race is superior have become candidates in West Virginia's special election for governor, gathering enough voter signatures to obtain spots on the Oct. 4 ballot.

The Secretary of State's office recently approved the candidacies of independent Marla Ingels of Mason County and Harry Bertram of the American Third Position Party. They join acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, Bill Maloney and Bob Henry Baber, who are respectively the nominees of the Democratic, Republican and Mountain parties.

Ingels, 38, is a public school counselor and former special educator who counts revamping curriculum and expanding the state's economy among her key issues. This is her first campaign for statewide office.

Bertram's North Dakota-based party describes itself as representing the white American vote on its website, which also says it is "dedicated to the interests vital to the preservation and continuity of ethnic European communities within the United States."

Bertram said he's courting the Tea Party movement, and believes his conservative platform and support of lower taxes and fewer regulations should resonate with such voters.

If elected, Bertram said he would not seek to expel non-whites from state jobs or to revive such segregation-era laws as the one banning interracial marriage.

"It's not that I'm trying to strip non-whites of power," he said. "I'm trying to point out discrimination against white people."

Bertram submitted a total of 3,760 signatures by May 20, one day before the deadline for ballot access petitions, Deputy Secretary of State Sheryl Webb said Tuesday. Lawmakers put the threshold at 1,765 signatures of registered voters when they set up this year's special election. Bertram attracted signatures in all 55 counties except Clay, Logan, Wayne and Wirt, Webb said.

West Virginia has the nation's highest percentage of native-born residents, and the third-highest proportion of residents who describe themselves as white only, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Census Bureau. Bertram said that voters who signed his petition included those who do not support his candidacy, but rather his right to be on the ballot.

Ingels gathered 1,954 signatures from six counties in her region, Webb said. She also successfully petitioned for the waiver of her $1,500 filing fee, needing at least 1,500 signatures.

The state Supreme Court has mandated that an elected governor take office within one year of the Nov. 15 departure of now-U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, who stepped down as the state's chief executive after winning a special election for his current seat.

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