Gregory’s Web for May 3, 2020
by Ron Gregory
As we make our way through work release after weeks of incarceration, most are breathing a sigh of relief.
The economy may rebound although it’s difficult to believe it will be as robust as before the coronavirus invasion. President Trump has been an economic miracle worker since assuming office. Maybe he can do it again. All but liberal Democrats will wish him success.
Governor Jim Justice continues to hold his daily dog-and-pony show although hard news ceased to be made days ago. There are only so many ways to wring one’s hands at the economic hardship and loss of lives.
It is clear Justice and the “experts” he surrounds himself with are convinced the state barely avoided the end of life as we know it. As I’ve said, if initial projections were accurate, President Trump deserves a huge round of applause for cutting the death toll from 2.2 million to around 600,000, when all is said and done.
The “experts” are so busy congratulating themselves and soaking up the admiration of a devoted, mostly liberal public that they have little time to do anything else. We all understand how they saved the day after being told about it for 39 consecutive days.
One death is too many. If ordering Americans to give up their freedoms temporarily saved two million lives, we can debate whether it was worth it. It may well have been. And, don’t be confused, nearly ALL of us believe those on the front lines during this pandemic deserve our heartfelt admiration. They truly have sacrificed for us all.
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Although regular readers will know that I’m no conspiracy theorist, I think the long-range societal effect of coronavirus may be more destructive than we imagined. Here I am not writing of “Phase 2” which, according to doomsdayers, will undoubtedly strike in the fall and be more powerful than before.
No, I am still appalled at how easily millions of Americans listened to their leaders and simply followed directions. One still gets the feeling that if Trump or Justice had said the surest way to avoid the virus was to hide in a manhole, there wouldn’t have been an empty space left underground in America.
I have been astonished at how easily Americans accepted orders to stay home and, in the off chance any actually expected to buy food, followed instructions to wear face masks.
Some in stores would become adamant if they detected someone not observing the “six foot rule.”
As we noted before, the journey from freedom to state control is not a long one. There’s no law that I have to stay six feet from you.
It bothers me, too, that potential voters are simply accepting that mail-in voting is the perfect way to cast a ballot.
It isn’t and Attorney General Patrick Morrisey deserves credit for issuing a “fraud alert” in that regard. National and state election history is riddled with examples of elections manipulated by mail-in ballots.
I saw numerous voters saying on social media, “well I just voted for so-and-so for Governor.” No, you dropped your ballot in the mail. Assuming it gets to the right place and is counted by honest public officials, you MAY have voted for so-and-so.
Watch this election unfold. It won’t surprise any of us who have been around elections 50 years when serious questions arise.
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I mentioned Democrat gubernatorial candidate Ron Stollings’ bus tour earlier. He used it effectively over the weekend by driving from Huntington to Charleston with six stops along the way.
The Madison state senator and Medical Doctor observed the six-feet social distancing rule but was able to make voter contact via social media.
The bus tour is just another example of Stollings’ spirit of innovation. He was one of the first physicians in the area to begin video visits with patients when the virus struck.
Stollings, at 14 years in the Senate, has likewise been innovative when approaching economic development in the coalfields. He was preaching economic diversity before it made its way into the hymnbook of others.
I continue to believe the Democrat governor race is a tight three-way battle between Stollings, Stephen Smith and Ben Salango.
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It won’t just be Delegates Larry Kump and Tom Bobby who question the governor’s ability to run the state by executive order next January.
Assuming those two are re-elected, they will be joined by many others who believe the constitution is not repealed in emergency situations. Although most church congregations were among those who meekly complied with orders not to peacefully assemble, many pastors and church leaders did not agree with the commandments from Justice.
If he’s re-elected in November, Justice will be a lame duck come January 2021. I think then the public will see the genuinely low esteem many Republican legislators have for their Democrat-turned-Republican governor.
Of course, Bibby and Kump will need to be re-elected to follow through on their announced goal of limiting executive order government.
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Thirty Democrat House of Delegates members signed a letter questioning various aspects of Justice’s plans to reopen the state.
It’s safe to say some of these legislators will join.some rank-and-file party members in never being satisfied with the responses. The letter did pledge Democrat support to restart the state.
Partisan party jockeying does not look good to voters in emergency situations.
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Well-meaning, I know. The Smith for Governor campaign pointed out on social media that they have folks trained to “help” voters understand the absentee ballot process.
I’ll point out, one more time, that that is exactly what the three Lincoln County public officials said they were doing in 2010. And they went to prison.
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It might also surprise voters in Lincoln County to know the current interpretation of state law insofar as County Commission residency is concerned.
In moving his residency to run for House of Delegates in District 59, Morgan County Commissioner Ken Reed changed from one magisterial district to another. State law says no more than one county commissioner can be elected from any single magisterial district.
By moving, Reed now resides in a magisterial district from which another Commissioner was already serving.
According to County Clerk K. Nickles , their interpretation of the law is that while each Commissioner must be elected from different districts, he or she can continue to serve if she moves into another district already served by another commissioner.
“Commissioner Reed was elected from one district and now lives in a different one but he continues to represent the one he was elected from,” she said.
That logic appears to come as the result of a recent circuit court ruling in the Eastern Panhandle. It is totally at odds with how the courts interpreted the law during the Lincoln County debacle of 2010, however.
Surely at least the spirit of the law is being violated when two commissioners live in one district.
Although Reed has prevailed on the residency issue when it comes to the House race, a court challenge to his service on the Commission might get dicey if some voter pursued it.
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Speaking of Lincoln County, the sudden resignation of Democrat Assessor Guy Browning would seem to.open the door for another local Republican elected official except for one thing. No GOP candidate filed for the job.
With a Republican Sheriff already in office, the path seems cleared for another rarity in the courthouse. Browning was the only Democrat who filed for Assessor as well, making his re-election a foregone conclusion. Now, presumably, he will want off the ballot, too.
Rumors swirl in Hamlin as to why Browning suddenly decided to depart. Clearly it was for “personal reasons.”
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A closely watched state Senate race in the central part of the state offers another review of a rejuvenated Republican party. Whereas the GOP used to struggle to find ANY candidates, two viable contenders appear on the 2020 primary ticket.
Two years ago, Bill Hamilton knocked off incumbent GOP Senator Robert Karnes in the District 11 primary. Hamilton went on to win in November.
Now the term of the district’s other Republican Senator, John Pitsenbarger, is up and Karnes is trying to make a comeback.
“As the chair of the Senate Select Committee on Tax Reform I was asked to find a way to reform our tax code in a pro-jobs, pro-growth way. We made a bold effort to eliminate the personal income tax in WV,” Karnes recently wrote on social media.
“My opponent’s supporters think that was a bad thing.
They are wrong. The data is irrefutable, states without income taxes grow at about twice the national average,” the former Senator and Helvetia resident wrote.
GOP voters will get a chance to decide who they agree with as Karnes has consistently attempted to make the point that he is more fiscally conservative than Pitsenbarger.
At this point, the incumbent is the favorite to win.
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On the subject of the Democrat gubernatorial primary, Smith has racked up the endorsement of Planned Parenthood Votes! South Atlantic.
As I’ve noted before, the lines are clearly drawn with Smith representing the progressive wing of state Democrats. Salango and Stollings are viewed as more moderate.
The split by the latter two is what could well give Smith the nomination. He will have a disciplined get out the vote effort. Stollings and/or Salango will need to match that to win the nomination.
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Republican gubernatorial candidate Michael Folk is constantly cross-crossing the state in his campaign. I suggested Folk, a pilot, might want to use the 1956 Cecil Underwood method.
Underwood traveled mostly by helicopter. Upon arrival at his destination, he’d tell voters he came by chopper because “the Democrat roads are so bad I was afraid I’d never get here by car.”
They were no worse then than they are now.
Contact Ron Gregory at 304-533-5185 or email@example.com. Hear his political commentary at 7 a.m. on the Tom Roten Morning Show on NewsRadio 800-WVHU, Huntington.