Coffelt, second-choice running mate disqualified


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ST. THOMAS - Soraya Diase Coffelt's gubernatorial candidacy has seemingly come to an early end as she and the Elections supervisor are at odds over her choice of running mate.

Coffelt had originally announced Warren Mosler as her running mate, but she switched to John Canegata, a member of the Republican Party. Coffelt is running as a "no party" candidate.

After close of business Friday, Supervisor of Elections Caroline Fawkes told The Daily News that Coffelt did not file the appropriate paperwork for her running mate and was therefore disqualified.

Coffelt said Tuesday that she had a right to change running mates and filed the petition to substitute a candidate at the St. Thomas office Friday. She said Canegata tried to file the petition at the St. Croix office, but was turned away Friday.

"They told him to come back in this morning to file it again," Coffelt said Tuesday.

Fawkes said Tuesday that she will be sending Coffelt a notice of defect because a gubernatorial candidate ticket cannot have two people with different party affiliations.

"We're not getting into a back and forth with her," Fawkes said. "She has a challenge, she can take us to court."

Coffelt said the Virgin Islands has had running mates with different parties in the past. Gov. Melvin Evans was a Republican, and he served with Democrat Athneil Ottley.

Gov. Juan Luis was a member of the ICM party and partnered with Lt. Gov. Henry Millin, a Democrat, Coffelt said.

"There is past precedent," Coffelt said.

Fawkes said it may have been permitted in the past, but the laws were changed in 2005 and it is no longer allowed.

- Contact reporter Aldeth Lewin at 714-9111 or email alewin@dailynews.vi.

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