by Ron Gregory
If voters have already decided their positions on the November election, the whispers on the campaign trail say that Democrat Jim Justice is an easy winner in the fall race for Governor. In fact, even a number of Republicans have told me they think Justice is a certainty “unless he makes some horrible mistake.”
While I doubt that Justice will slip much on the campaign trail, I suspect at some point Republican State Senator Bill Cole will at least get some traction in the race. To date, he has none. Turnout is small for Cole events and there is little enthusiasm showing among the GOP masses. Justice, on the other hand, packs the house when he comes to town.
The third element to the election, former State Senator Charlotte Pritt, adds a bit of intrigue. Pritt is the only person to ever defeat now-U.S. Senator Joe Manchin in balloting. Pritt beat Manchin for the Democrat gubernatorial nomination a quarter-century ago but went on to lose in the general. It has long been assumed Manchin did not support the party winner in that race, leading to Pritt’s demise.
Pritt is an attractive candidate for many reasons as she runs this time as the Mountain Party governor candidate. Her views are progressive and more in line with those of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders than are those of her opponents.
In my view, Justice took the wise path by failing to attend the Democrat National Convention and he has clearly not endorsed Hillary Clinton for President. Apologists for Clinton can swear she meant to tell audiences some months ago that she supports bringing new industry to the Appalachian mountains. What she said was that her policies will cost lots of coal miners their jobs.
There are few ways to misunderstand what the former First Lady and now Democrat presidential candidate said. And one must assume, if we are to believe that Clinton is a strong leader, that she means what she says and says what she means.
Justice, on the other hand, discusses his plans for economic revival in the hills in conjunction with some revival of coal production. Environmentalists do not want coal-powered plants belching toxic smoke into the atmosphere. Clinton clearly aligns herself with that group.
Pritt is pragmatic enough to understand that everything is not necessarily black and white. She will openly discuss her platform and views, which are obviously left of center. If she manages to get ten percent of the vote in the governor’s race, she could be a determining factor in the overall outcome. And ten percent is not beyond her reach by any means.
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The devastating flood that hit parts of West Virginia will have lingering long-term effects that go beyond most of today’s headlines.
I have spoken with government officials who say there are countless towns and communities in the Mountain State that cannot overcome what has happened to them. Despite a spirit of energy and renewal, many predict several small towns will never be the same.
I spoke with one emergency official who said sanitary sewer service to one town had suffered $22 million in damages. Where on earth is that kind of money supposed to come from? Meanwhile, sewage in that town and others drains directly into streams and rivers. Years of environmental improvement were literally washed down the drain in two days of downpour.
When New Orleans suffered devastation after hurricanes, many questioned why federal agencies would fund rebuilding in the same areas that had suffered damage. In other localities, folks are wondering the same thing about West Virginia. How many floods can cause billions in damages without someone deciding to do something about it?
FEMA often requires homeowners to build their foundations up an additional three feet if they plan to build in the same spot. While that makes sense, it does not prevent another 1,000-year flood from wiping out that newly-built community as well.
Officials like Kanawha Commission President Kent Carper, who took the lead on flood recovery in this area, can do only so much to remedy the situation. Unlike many counties with no money left to help in emergencies, Kanawha’s wise financial management under Carper makes the state’s largest county able to assist some. But the task is overwhelming.
As I often point out, my grade school teachers use to tell us, “Even the Indians wouldn’t live in West Virginia. They hunted here and then went home.”
Perhaps Native Americans were a lot brighter than their conquering invading immigrants.
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They are a proud family, as I have mentioned before. The Isom family of which 18-year-old Dawson Isom is a member does not like to complain or plead for help.
But now is a genuine time of need.
Regular readers do not have to be reminded that Dawson continues to lie comatose in a Kentucky long-term nursing facility. They do not me to recount his senseless beating at the hands of two thugs on Second Avenue in Williamson more than a year ago.
While the legal impact of that beating is yet to be clarified in court, the financial facts are that the incident devastated the family’s finances. Regular 40-hour work weeks are impossible for close family members who must help assure that Dawson has 24-hour care, seven days a week.
Some think that because the Isoms have hired Kanawha County’s former Prosecutor, Mike Clifford, as their attorney, money will flow to the family. Maybe. But it isn’t flowing while the case is pending and before depositions start in mid-August.
There are bills to pay with no forseeable income to pay them. Dawson’s condition requires that the close family travel regularly from hospital to hospital. Expenses mount; as income falls. That is not a good place for the family to be.
There is a Paypal account set up to assist the family in their time of need. And $2,500 is needed right now to keep this family financially afloat. While the criminals bask in their properties and jobs, the victims are left unattended. This is not how the American justice system should work but it does.
Please, please … go to David Isom’s Facebook account and pledge to help this family in financial distress that they did nothing to create. If you have trouble finding how to contribute, call or text me. I’ll put you in touch with the family immediately.
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So, exactly what do state Republicans really have in mind for the U.S. Senate seat in 2018? Well, I earlier reported that the party’s hierarchy met to prevent Attorney General Patrick Morrisey from challenging Cole in this year’s GOP gubernatorial primary.
Shortly after, Morrisey announced that he would seek re-election, leaving the field open to Cole. The thought was that Morrisey would challenge incumbent Manchin in two years.
But along comes a poll, which is said to have some Republican support, in which voters are asked to choose in a potential race between Manchin and Republican First District Congressman David McKinley. McKinley has always been interested in a senate seat or the governor’s job, according to friends.
Finally, though, the word among some Republicans in the Eastern Panhandle is that if former Governor Arch A. Moore Jr.’s grandson, Riley Moore, is elected to the state House of Delegates this year, he is the GOP’s logical choice to run against Manchin for the Senate job.
At least through two generations of Moores and Manchins, there is no chance one would run against another. It remains to be seen if that position remains for a third generation since Moore is the son of the Governor’s son, Arch “Kim” Moore, III.
Many think Manchin is vulnerable in 2018. I don’t share that view although the future is surely bright for Moore.
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Credit Second District Congressman Alex X. Mooney with being a conservative who surely knows how to spend taxpayer money wisely. Or not.
Mooney, who likely shares the view of his constituents on two issues, recently sent a campaign-looking mailer to promote a town hall type meeting he planned at the Poca Hunt Club. While the alleged Second Amendment “right” for every looney tune on the planet to own a gun is a view Mooney shares with most of his constituents, it might seem he went a bit far in his piece.
The right-wing congressman advertised the event as a “byow” affair. “Byow” being the acronym for Bring Your Own Weapon.”
Not only did Mooney force taxpayers to pay for the flier, he attempted to force his right-wing agend down their throats.
Mooney is being challenged this election by former Democrat House of Delegates member Mark Hunt.
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I like Phyllis Doty. Therefore, it is a bit difficult for me to believe many of the stories I’ve been told during her tenure as Logan County School Superintendent. I always found her, and her predecessors, to be candid, open and honest in revealing public information.
Unlike many Southern coalfield counties, Doty and the Logan Board have always responded quickly to questions I raised. It is fair to say, they answer better than the state school board, who believes everything should be done in secret.
Now, however, Doty is accused of using $4,800 in school funds for her son’s wedding. If so, that is an insult to the people of Logan County. If it is not so, there are a ton of people who owe Doty more than an apology for tarnishing her image.
New Logan Board member Paul Hardesty is also a personal friend. He campaigned on a slogan of “fixing” the Logan Board. One cannot “fix” something that is already okay. So, Hardesty clearly implied something was amiss. He now appears to be leading the charge with regard to Doty.
Last week, Hardesty revealed that the Legislature’s Commission on Special Investigations is looking into the Logan school operation. While that is serious, it does not necessarily indicate guilt. The Commission has investigated many cases in which charges were never forthcoming. It’s their job to separate truth from rumor.
The Logan Banner, suddenly in an investigative mood itself, has all but called Doty guilty. The “proof” seems flimsy at best.
Thus, I will call the jury still out on Doty and the educational system in Logan. As I said, if I believed every rumor I was fed over the years, practically everyone at the Logan Board would be in prison or on parole. Much of it was nonsense.
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Your comments, story ideas, rumors and advice for state Republicans torn three ways on who should oppose Manchin are always welcome. Use my email listed or call my cell, 304-533-5185.