Robb's vote may not
go to Bush
Charleston Daily Mail
September 8, 2004, Wednesday
GOP mayor may use his Electoral College role to lodge protest
against the president
South Charleston Mayor Richie Robb said today he may vote against
George W. Bush in the Electoral College, even if the president
carries West Virginia's popular vote.
Robb, long known as a maverick Republican, said he is considering
using his position as one of the state's five Republican electors to
protest what he believes are misguided policies of the current
"It's not likely that I would vote for Kerry," Robb said.
"But I'm looking at what my options are when it comes time to
cast my vote."
State election law dictates that the party of the candidate who wins
the popular vote for president gets to send its five electors when
the Electoral College convenes in mid-December.
At their state convention in June, the members of the West Virginia
Republican Party chose the top five runners-up from their
gubernatorial primary to serve as electors. Robb, who finished
fourth in the May primary, will be among them.
Robb, who said he might reconsider if Bush changed his foreign and
domestic policy priorities, said he is researching his options under
There is no provision in the West Virginia code that controls what
an elector does at the Electoral College or provides any punishment
for faithless electors.
There have been eight electors in American history who have chosen
to go against the popular vote in their home states, including
Margarette Leach of Huntington, who declined to vote for Michael
Dukakis in 1988, even though Dukakis carried West Virginia.
Leach cast her presidential vote for Dukakis' running mate, Lloyd
Bentsen instead. In 2000, one of the electors from the District of
Columbia withheld her vote altogether in protest of the district's
lack of statehood.
Robb said he is considering either voting for a third candidate or
withholding his vote altogether.
"I know that among some in my own party, what I'm discussing
would be considered treasonous," Robb said. "But I'm not
going to cheerlead us down the primrose path when I know we're being
led in the wrong direction."
Fellow elector Rob Capehart was somewhat taken aback by Robb's
flirtation with defection.
"We have a duty and responsibility to cast our electoral votes
behind the president if he wins West Virginia," Capehart said.
"Because that's what the Republican Party expected when they
Capehart raised the possibility that in a very close election, every
electoral vote becomes crucial. In such a case, Robb would wield
great power by virtue of his willingness to defect.
"Will Richie Robb decide who the next president is?"
Capehart asked. "It's more important for us to maintain an
allegiance for the people of West Virginia than an allegiance to our
own personal viewpoint."
Robb's complaints about Bush center on what the mayor believes was a
misguided policy on Iraq and the swelling budget deficit.
"I only started to really rethink my position seriously after
the accusations about Kerry's service in Vietnam, though," Robb
said. "I served in Vietnam, and I think Bush's surrogates, and
I think really the Bush campaign, went beyond the line with those
But state GOP Chairman Kris Warner was confident that Robb would
"I'm confident that he'll do the right thing," Warner
said. "He's a veteran. And although he's an independent mayor
of South Charleston and does things his own way, he also knows what
it's like to be part of a team."
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