(Editor’s note: The following letter to The Charleston Gazette Editorial Board was forwarded to the Herald for publication.)

I was shocked to see your endorsement of Jim Justice coming from the Gazette especially in light of the reports of Jim Justice’s mine safety and water pollution violations, and his default on taxes that could be used for dire educational needs.

It seems that a NON endorsement was in order for the Gazette, if you were unable to endorse Charlotte Pritt, the only candidate with “hands on” experience balancing the state budget (four years on the finance committee in the WV House), or the candidate with more legislative experience than all the other candidates combined, or the one with a 100% voting record on environmental issues like clean water, and fighting out-of-state toxic dumps coming to WV, or the only candidate who is against hydro-fracking and MTR, or the only candidate with a career voting record of 100% promoting senior citizens and AFL-CIO issues!

Perhaps the reason for the falsehood is that I am the ONLY candidate with the skill set needed to address the “budget crisis” and the ONLY candidate with a specific diversified economic development plan (See: www.charlottepritt4gov.com). What is most disturbing about this Gazette endorsement is the unprofessional and unethical creation of a false position that was NEVER discussed with me. That smear was your excuse for NOT endorsing the most qualified candidate for governor?

To say that I would not be a unifying presence for the state reveals either your ignorance of WV political history or else a complete misunderstanding of who West Virginians are. And more particularly, what we are capable of. According to Arch Moore, the 1996 Charlotte Pritt gubernatorial campaign was the most successful grassroots campaign in WV history: the 10,000 plus army of Pritt volunteers in my campaign were from ALL parties.

Only the most politically naive believe that there is any real difference between Jim Justice and Bill Cole. Both are Republicans and both will be controlled by ALEC/Koch Brothers. Jim Justice, Joe Manchin’s handpicked successor to Tomblin, will have a closer tie to ALEC/Koch Brothers because of Joe’s own close ties with ALEC since the early 1990s. Both Justice and Cole are in an income bracket completely outside the range of those they would be governing.

As a Mountain Party governor, I represent ALL parties of WV because our members and those who vote for us are ISSUE oriented rather than LABEL oriented. In fact, a Charlotte Pritt governorship would be a mandate for governorship that empowers all West Virginians. My cabinet would consist of the best appointees from ALL parties. I would work with Senators, Delegates and citizens of ALL parties because my party and my base would come from BOTH and ALL party affiliations.

Despite your unfounded claim that I “would not be a unifying presence,” the only logical conclusion is that I am the only gubernatorial candidate capable of unifying our state.

Your opinion that “a vote for her is a vote for Bill Cole” not only underestimates my candidacy, it could have been directly lifted out of the Democratic party dirty tricks playbook used earlier this campaign season.

A vote for Charlotte Pritt is a vote for my voting record and my principled stands for the eight years I served in the WV Legislature. A vote for Charlotte Pritt is a vote of trust by the people of WV! A vote for Charlotte Pritt is a vote of principle not protest. They are voting for me because they have someone and something WORTH voting FOR!

Since the Gazette requires that those submitting letters to the editor give their names and telephone numbers, it seems only fair that the person who wrote the endorsement, including that smear, should follow the same guidelines that you demand from your contributors. The Voters and I deserve to know who on your staff actually wrote your Endorsement Editorial.

Charlotte Pritt

Charleston

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