Teachers pull unexpected trick to oust GOP lawmaker who opposed them

Credit: PERRY BENNETT / West Virginia Legislature

A West Virginia Republican state senator who complained about the teacher strike just lost his re-election bid via some strategic thinking by local teachers. He previously claimed that the teachers were holding kids “hostage.”

Back in March, during an interview with a local newspaper, Republican Sen. Robert Karnes stated, “I can’t say that it will have zero effect, but I don’t think it’ll have any significant effect because, more often than not, they probably weren’t voting on the Republican side of the aisle anyways.”

However, he was proven wrong. Karnes lost to a Delegate Bill Hamilton, a rare Republican who was sympathetic to teacher strikes and opposed right-to-work.

Hamilton beat Karnes by 2,000 points.

According to Edwina Howard-Jack, one of the teachers who participated in the strike and voted Karnes out, revealed how it happened.

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In West Virginia, in order for one to vote in the primary, he or she has to either be unaffiliated or belong to a specific party.

Howard-Jack explained that a number of teachers changed their affiliation to nonpartisan so they could vote Republican.

She stated, “Teachers showed up and they were voting in their 55 united, 55 strong shirts…Once the results started rolling in, it was phenomenal. Teachers were really empowered to say, if we stick together we can make a difference.”

She joked, “I heard one teacher today say … after yesterday they may want to think twice about arming teachers.”


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