Don’t Play Politics With Appointments

When governors are called upon to appoint people to fill vacancies in important state government offices, the right thing for them to do is name someone of the same political party as the person who has vacated the position. Most of the time that is what happens; sometimes, as with members of the Legislature, such action is required by law.

But it is not stipulated for some of the most important positions, including secretary of state, auditor, treasurer, attorney general and commissioner of agriculture.

Last week the state Senate approved a bill requiring that when there are vacancies in those offices, governors are to appoint temporary replacements from the same parties as those who had held the positions.

Republicans who control the Legislature are being accused of playing politics by taking the action. To the contrary, they are preventing governors in the future from doing that.

Voters who elect a man or woman to high office in West Virginia expect the position to be held by someone with a certain political philosophy. That quality often is shown by the person’s party affiliation. Allowing governors to appoint someone of the other party would allow them to thwart the wishes of voters.

Senators were right to approve the bill. The House of Delegates should follow suit — and Gov. Jim Justice, a Democrat, should sign the measure into law regardless of his own party allegiance.