Gregory’s Web for July 12, 2020
by Ron Gregory
Sometimes, it takes a crisis to identify the leaders from the followers. We also get a look at who we should depend on to have our backs in a foxhole and who is liable to defect to the enemy when the going gets tough.
I filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request last week seeking to learn which legislators have enough courage to demand a special session be convened immediately. The session would give the legislature an opportunity to examine Governor Jim Justice’s executive order governance the past four months.
The people (remember them?) have a right to some say in how state government operates. If a Governor, for an indefinite period of time, can tell a private store owner how to operate his or her own business, we may want to examine this thing called “freedom.”
If it seems valid, to legal minds at the capitol, that a Governor can issue one executive order after another under threat of penal enforcement, some reasonable soul might want to consult the constitution.
Emergency, pandemic or whatever, there is little room in the federal or state constitutions for government by decree. King George III had less apparent power than Governor Justice..
We hear daily from state legislators who agree that Justice is exceeding his authority. Yet, a sufficient number won’t sign to call a special session to perhaps reign him in.
Some are the same GOP legislators who vowed “no new taxes” then raised every state fee they could find. When one pumps gasoline or renews a car license, he or she feels the full effect of “no new taxes.”
They are the same toothless tigers who refused to sign on to the motion for a writ of mandamus in the Supreme Court that was filed in May. They’ll talk about being for “liberty” while trembling in fear of retribution from the Governor. Why if they stand up to him, he might not send any new pork barrel funding to their districts before election day. Principles? We have none when it comes election time.
Delegates Marshall Wilson, Tony Paynter, Tom Bibby and Jim Butler, along with Senator Mike Azinger filed the petition for the Writ of Mandamus in the Supreme Court at the end of May. The Court gave Justice until June 29 to reply.
Attorney General Patrick Morrisey replied on his behalf on June 29. We are currently awaiting the ruling from the Court.
The five legislators are challenging Justice’s power to govern by executive order forever.
Some “patriots” have voiced displeasure on social media that the Governor’s response came from Morrisey, a conservative Republican. But the AG is just doing his statutory job. He shouldn’t be criticized for that. Many of the same social media “experts” continue to give legislators praise because they claim to be “liberty lovers,” while doing nothing to advance the cause of freedom.
Should we count the number of “liberty” GOP legislators? Does it total just five?
My point to these valiant champions: how about some liberty action instead of rhetoric? How about standing up for freedom, which you claim to embrace?
Those legislators who signed on for the Writ are the true liberty heroes, just as those who defied the King … er, Governor … and signed to call a special session. Hopefully, we’ll have those names when I receive the FOIA response. Believe me, we’ll publicize who had the courage to sign and who didn’t.
Otherwise, those who pound the desks as “liberty” legislators and talk a big game of “standing up for the constitution” yet refuse to confront the tyrant are all talk and no action.
True liberty-loving voters need to keep in mind who steps forward and who doesn’t when they go to the polls in November.
These are the times that try mens’ souls — and their honesty. Five — count ’em, FIVE — liberty-loving legislators. FOUR IN the House and ONE in the Senate.
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The Supreme Court wants to twiddle its legal thumbs long enough to declare the matter moot with regard to the Writ.
Essentially, the Writ would direct the Governor to call a special session and stop running the state by executive order.
The Governor and his cronies want to wait until the legislature convenes in regular session in 2021. By then, they think Covid-19 will be a distant memory and there will no longer be any clamour for reform. Then he or any future governor can rule by executive decree when the urge hits. A banana republic? We’ve got one.nu
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If your favorite legislator claims to be in the “liberty caucus” and a true First Amendment, right-to-lifer and gun proponent but hasn’t signed for a special session, ask him or her why not.
The legislators on the Writ are four Republicans and one Independent. So Democrats universally oppose freedom? Perhaps.
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For some time I’ve been saying that the presence of third party candidates would liven up gubernatorial debates this fall.
In particular, Mountain Party candidate Daniel Lutz and Independent Marshall Wilson should be welcomed to the proceedings. The Libertarian, Erika Kolenich, is also deserving of a hearing.
They won’t be heard, of course. The American form of republican government does not lend itself to any but the two major parties. For more than 100 years, Democrats or Republicans have been the only viable choices for voters.
The fact is that neither Lutz nor Wilson nor Kolenich will be elected governor in 2020. They’re smart cookies. They know what their chances are. But they’re dedicated to getting fresh ideas to the electorate. I commend all three. Kolenich is an attorney who has been running for Governor since 2019. She intends to get more than the one percent required to automatically keep her party on the ballot.
Incumbent Republican Governor Jim Justice and Democrat challenger Kanawha County Commissioner Ben Salango will prefer the stage to themselves. Actually, Justice would be happiest with no debates at all. Salango, the underdog, wants as many as he can get.
The incumbent has agreed to one forum. That may be his limit. The West Virginia Broadcasters Association will host it.
While Wilson travels the state rallying support for his right wing candidacy, Lutz has been busy lobbying for inclusion in any debate(s). His party’s gubernatorial candidate got more than the agreed-upon percentage to be included in future debates. Lutz wants that commitment to be honored.
The 2016 Mountain Party nominee, Charlotte Pritt, got more than the supposedly required five percent to assure future participation in debates. Why Lutz is not automatically included makes no sense.
Wilson may have a weaker argument but if he secures the necessary signatures to be on the ballot as an Independent, I think he’s demonstrated sufficient support to be included as has Kolenich.
Lutz is urging those who believe in fair play to contact the Broadcasters Association and Public Broadcasting to demand that he be included.
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I mentioned a while back that Lutz is a walking history book, particularly when it comes to the Eastern Panhandle.
He notes that Emanuel Willis Wilson was the last Governor from the Eastern Panhandle. Elected the seventh governor in 1884, Wilson actually served longer than his elected term. When the 1888 election was disputed, Wilson remained in office until the Supreme Court ruled Aretas Fleming the winner.
Wilson was also governor during the famous Hatfield-McCoy feud. Lutz thinks it’s about time the Panhandle had another native son as Governor.
Wilson was from Jefferson County but actually listed Kanawha as his home when elected.
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It was close but no cigar for progressive leftist Stephen Smith in the 2020 Democrat gubernatorial primary. Smith, who campaigned almost non-stop for two years, finished second to eventual winner Salango.
Smith’s community organizer skills were on display in the campaign and he was indeed impressive. He has always insisted the campaign was not solely about him and he says his movement lives on.
Smith successfully recruited several dozen legislative candidates who ran with him and many were successful.
Smith told The (Elkins) Intermountain his cause lives on with these remaining candidates. It will be interesting to see how enthusiastic they are for Salango.
WV Can’t Wait, the organizational name used by Smith, claims 43 of its candidates won on June 9. The election of a significant number of those would have quite an impact in November. Some of actually already been elected to municipal offices.
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Far right liberty lovers spurred a question from me as to whether they will vote for progressive Democrat Sam Petsonk against Morrisey for attorney general. Some said they plan to.
Petsonk is about as far removed from their political views as one could get and still live in the same country.
Morrisey says he’d like to explain the position he’s in when the case is over. Unreasonable conservatives aren’t for giving him that chance.
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Returning to our early glance at state House of Delegates races, longtime Republican incumbent Bill Anderson is the favorite in District Eight. Andrew Alvarez is his Democrat opponent.
In District Nine, appointed GOP incumbent Chuck Little lost the primary. That sets up a November showdown between the Republican winner, Shannon Limes, and Democrat Jim Marion. The Republicans will likely hold the seat although disgruntled Little voters could tip the scales and flip this district.
The Tenth District is currently represented
by Republicans Vernon Criss, John Kelly and Tom Azinger. Criss and Kelly along with Roger Conley are the nominees this time.
Azinger chose to retire, which he had done once before. So Conley, the disputed head of Wood County Republicans, placed third in the primary.
Democrats nominated Trish Pritchard and Luke Winters. Obviously, then, the GOP will hold one seat. The district is soundly Republican so they will be favored to keep all three.
But Conley has the ongoing chairman issue to deal with. Elected Wood Chair Rob Cornelius was removed by State Chair Melody Potter. She appointed Conley. Cornelius is challenging those actions in court.
If the Cornelius-Conley dispute costs Conley votes, the third seat could flip to Democrat Pritchard.
District 11 is represented by Republican Martin Atkinson who lost to Riley Keaton in the primary. Mark Pauley is the Democrat in this largely Republican Roane County district.
Atkinson was appointed to replace long-serving Delegate Bob Ashley, who became a state senator. The district generally elects Republican House members by about a 60-40 margin. The only question here could be if Atkinson Republicans fail to.support their party nominee.
Republican Steve Westfall of Jackson County represents District 12. He had no primary opponent and no Democrat is on the November ballot.
District 13 presents an interesting scenario. The incumbents are Republicans Scott Cadle and Joshua Higginbotham. But Higginbotham won the GOP primary while Cadle fell to Jonathan Pinson.
Pinson is a strong social conservative who actually appeared to be linked with Cadle in an attempt to unseat Higginbotham. As I suggested might happen, Higginbotham and Pinson are now expected to be a team running against Democrats Scott Brewer and David Caldwell.
These two horses may not bridle well together. Brewer, a former legislator, is clearly a threat to wrestle one seat from the GOP.
More next time. For now, wear your masks, keep the hell away from me and follow the government’s instructions.
Contact Ron Gregory (masks MUST be worn during contact) at 304-533-5185 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Hear his political commentary at 7 a.m. each Monday on the Tom Roten Morning Show on NewsRadio 800, WVHU, Huntington.