Commissioners reject Tebay withdrawal

PARKERSBURG – Wood County commissioners voted Friday to reject Bob Tebay’s withdrawal as a Republican county commission candidate in the May 13 primary election.

During a special session Friday, County Clerk Mark Rhodes and Prosecutor Jason Wharton met with Commissioners Steve Gainer and Blair Couch about the opinion from Attorney General Patrick Morrisey this week denying Tebay’s withdrawal as a candidate.

Commission President Wayne Dunn did not attend the brief Friday session. If he had been present, he would have been required to recuse himself from the meeting since he is a candidate in the primary for the Democratic nomination for commission.

Tebay is one of four Republican candidates for county commission from District C.

The deadline to withdraw as a candidate was Feb. 11. Tebay submitted his withdrawal letter in mid-April, citing a recent illness as his reason for withdrawing from the race.

Wharton told the commissioners he had reviewed the attorney general’s four-page opinion.

“Due to the filing of the notice of intent to withdraw after the Feb. 11 deadline, Mr. Tebay is not permitted to withdraw and his name is to remain on the ballot. The county commission must count any votes cast for him, and the county commission must certify him as a candidate if he wins the primary,” Wharton told the commissioners.

“The opinion is pretty self-explanatory,” the prosecutor said.

On a motion by Couch, the two commissioners voted to reject Tebay’s withdrawal, which was submitted in mid-April.

If Tebay wins the primary, the attorney general’s opinion notes if he is to be replaced, he would have to withdraw again.

Rhodes said earlier if Tebay wins the primary and does not resign again, he would go into the general election as the Republican Party’s candidate. If Tebay doesn’t win the primary, the issue is moot.

The deadline to withdraw for the general election is Aug. 12.

Wharton said if Tebay were to withdraw after the primary by the deadline the Republican Executive Committee would need to have approval of the state elections committee, but could then appoint a replacement nominee for him going into the general election. The party would have until Aug. 18 to nominate a candidate for the general election.

Contacted by The Parkersburg News and Sentinel Friday, Tebay said he had no idea his withdrawal would cause so much confusion and fuss.

He was not aware of the original Feb. 11 deadline.

“I wasn’t sick at the time so it wasn’t an issue then. I certainly didn’t contemplate all this, but I didn’t plan to get sick either,” Tebay said.

Tebay said his major concern is recovery and getting his health back. That was the reason he tried to withdraw his candidacy, he said.

“I have surgery ahead of me. I’ve got to get better. I have other things to deal with and that affects running a campaign,” Tebay said.

Tebay said his position is he will withdraw from the race again if he wins the primary.

“That’s what I’m thinking right now. I have to consider my health before anything else.”

While Wood County Commission candidates serve countywide, they are elected one each from the three districts every six years. The district up for election this year is District C.

Tebay served 12 years on the Wood County Commission, leaving in 2009 after he was defeated by Dunn in the 2008 general election. The other Republican candidates are Sam Baker, Raymond Jones and Roger Brown.