Gregory’s Web for September 6, 2020
by Ron Gregory
Apologists for do-nothing Republican legislators cite all sorts of rationale for allowing GOP Governor Jim Justice to rule by executive order.
A longtime friend questioned why certain Republican legislators are doing nothing to support representative democracy in the face of Covid-19. Another friend, normally conservative, chimed in to say his local representatives have voiced concern to him about the tyranny but are powerless to do anything about it.
If my second friend is correct and our legislature is a paper tiger, then I see no reason not to run a constitutional amendment ceding all power to the governor. Let’s just eliminate the legislature.
If it’s too costly to call a special session or even question the Governor during interims, we likely can’t afford the expense of a part-time legislature.
Think of the money we could save. And expenses like replacing doors that legislators crash in fits of rage would be eliminated.
Considering how toothless our Republican senators are, calls to mind how one Governor at least actually exercised legitimate power when others said it couldn’t be done. U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, while governor, engineered the meeting of the state’s Division I football teams when others had said it couldn’t happen. Likewise, legislators could clearly have some say in what logos appear on public university football helmets but they choose not to.
Here’s the bottom line: Republican legislators COULD convene in extraordinary session; they COULD exercise their constitutional duties to oversee the expenditure of Covid-19 funds; they COULD show some backbone; and they COULD endorse or reject social messages on athletic uniforms.
But as long as the favored few can privately lobby the Governor and staff for their pet projects, there’s no reason to let their deliberations see the light of day.
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Which might explain why Wayne County Democrat Bob Plymale is one of only two Democrat senators who didn’t sign the letter demanding a special session.
Skeptics might note that Plymale, whose district includes part of Cabell, was front and center when Justice announced his controversial plans to support allocating covid funds for broadband extension across the state.
It’s a bit unusual for a senator from the opposing party to sing the praises of a governor of the opposite party — especially in an election year. Other Democrats in this “bi-partisan” group had already chosen not to stand for re-election. But Plymale is running this year as a Democrat.
The Wayne senator made several positive comments about Justice that day. It prompts one to wonder if he’s the second Democrat Senate candidate obviously running away from his party’s nominees. There’s no doubt 7th District candidate Ralph Rodighiero would be happy if voters forgot he’s on the ticket with former Vice President Joe Biden and Kanawha County Commissioner Ben Salango. Maybe Plymale feels the same?
Plymale has breezed to victory in his previous runs and is favored again this year. He may become Justice’s best friend. Bipartisanship is a beautiful thing to watch — especially when it’s sincere.
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“Manchin started to sing as he tackled the thing/That couldn’t be done./And he did it!”
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Social media can sure stir the flames of controversy as it did last week when a critic of Monongalia County Democrat Delegate Danielle Walker posted a photo of her campaign vehicle allegedly improperly parked in a handicapped parking space.
The picture clearly showed the delegate stickers and tags parked almost in the door of a Sheetz location.The implication, from the original post, was that Walker was taking the space from someone who was more deserving.
The original post accused Walker of thinking “she is above handicap people.”
The picture sparked an array of negative comments about the delegate but also brought out defenders.
Eventually, it was mentioned that Walker has a handicap sticker due to family members she regularly transports.
Things are definitely nasty in the 51st District, where four other Democrats now serve with the very liberal Walker. Five reasonably strong Republicans have a shot at turning this district around in November.
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Several readers, including one respected political commentator, have asked me about Paula Jean Swearengin, the Democrat sacrificial lamb pitted against Republican U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito.
The readers have noticed that Swearengin is … shall we say … elusive about her background. She admits only to growing up in Mullens and being a coal miner’s daughter. Readers have directly asked where she went to school, where she’s ever worked, etc. only to be greeted by stone silence from her.
I emailed her campaign months ago and mentioned that some readers said she wouldn’t answer such simple questions. She didn’t respond.
As with most progressive candidates, she campaigns as a “friend of the working people.” Yet she keeps her own history buried from the public.
Researching her uncovers very little. In May, reports appeared of the death of her brother in Mullens. Jason Christopher Foley was just 40 years old.
The obituary says he was the son of Linda Lou Combs Martin and the late Paul Arnold Foley, Sr. Seven sisters are listed, which includes Paula Jean Swearengin of Coal City. Perhaps the late Paul Arnold Foley, Sr. is her father as well. Maybe not. We might know if the candidate decided to be transparent like she demands Capito to be.
On the ballot this year, Swearengin lists Sophia as her address. She might have moved into the Post Office box occupied for years by the late U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd and his wife, Erma. It was said the Byrds didn’t use it much.
Swearengin did post a request for funds to help with her brother’s burial expenses on social media. She promised to report how much was raised but that was not visible when her pages were checked this week.
Capito is the iconic U.S. Senator. We don’t have to worry that Swearengin will ever be a senator. Perhaps she can hide her background forever.
Meanwhile, if anyone remembers graduating high school with her, send me a note.
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Ironically, Swearengin is traveling around the state calling out Capito as evasive. In a recent social media post she said, “West Virginia only sees Capito when she’s touting her ‘accomplishments’ or posing for a photo op during an election. The people here deserve to hear from all sides. It’s time for a showdown. Debate me, Shelley Moore Capito!”
Maybe then, if ever, we’ll find out where Swearengin worked in a “small business.”
We know where Capito went to school and who her parents were. We know where she’s worked and what she did.
About all we know about Swearengin is that she’s delusional. In another recent post she claimed to have Capito “running scared.”
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Pamphlets in support of Capito and Republican Kanawha State Senate candidate Eric Nelson were being distributed together over the weekend in St. Albans.
Nelson, currently a Kanawha Delegate, is taking on Democrat Andrew Robinson for the 17th District seat being vacated by Democrat Corey Palumbo.
Rules change but in 2004 there was an uproar when signs appeared boosting the re-election of President George W. Bush and Governor candidate Monty Warner. It was said then that federal and state campaign funds cannot be commingled. Of course, it’s possible the Capito and Nelson flyers were distributed by volunteers.
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The state Ethics Commission wasted little time responding to a question from Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper.
After two Harper’s Ferry council members were charged with ethics violations for voting on their own election contests, Carper asked the commission to clarify their ruling.
At the time, the President pointed out to me that he considers his impartial role as a board of canvass member one of the more important aspects of his job.
The commission agreed. They made it clear that county commissioners must fulfill their responsibilities unless the issue becomes one of a contest involving a particular Commissioner. Then, he or she must recuse.
Carper, always on top of the issues, asked for the ruling to be sure what the commission was saying. The answer could eliminate many future problems.
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A preliminary investigation has determined that 1,800 absentee ballots were counted twice in the recent Berkeley County primary.
Democrats constantly insist that there’s never a problem with mail-in voting.
I’d say counting 1,800 ballots twice might indicate reason for some slight concern.
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Justice’s announcement of broadband funding support which drew Plymale’s praise of the Governor, didn’t strike such a positive chord with everyone.
Manchin, no fan of the Governor, quickly criticized the announcement.
“West Virginia is not getting $766 million in federal funds through the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund just because the Governor signed an Executive Order saying he wants it to happen,” said the senior Senator. “Unfortunately, as of the most recent FCC report on September 1st, there isn’t even a single Internet Service Provider in the state that’s eligible to bid on this funding right now.”
Manchin says he’s for expanded broadband but Justice’s plan is not the savior he made it appear.
Justice’s plan seems to make private Internet providers sort of co-signers with the state for federal expansion funds. It seems similar to 20th century funding for electricity and telephone services in rural areas where it would never be financially practical for a private company to invest all of the money required.
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Sometimes even positives become negative on social media. Photos showing the work done by former Delegate Rupie Phillips, Allen Ladieri and John Quick to clear trees and brush at the US-119 and Old Logan Road intersection drew criticism last week.
The work, voluntarily done by the men to clear dangerous debris from the intersection, drew negative comments from those alleging Phillips only did it for political gain.
Phillips is Rodighierio’s Republican opponent in the District 7 State Senate race where Democrat Paul Hardesty is retiring. That’s the seat once held by Richie Ojeda.
Phillips is well-known for his public service, whether at election time or not.
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We move on to District 40 in looking at the 2020 House of Delegates races. There, incumbent Republican Dean Jeffries is unopposed for re-election.
Republican Jordan Hill was elected to serve the 41st District. He resigned a few months ago to accept work outside the district. Heather Tully was named to replace him and is the GOP candidate. Duane Bragg represents Democrats. Tully is the favorite.
Democrats Jeff Campbell and Cindy Lavender-Bowe represent the 42d District. They are favored for re-election over Republicans Todd Loganacre and Barry Bruce.
The 43d District is represented by Democrats Cody Thompson and Bill Hartman. Republican challengers are William Nestor and Mark Rennix. The GOP wave has not captured Randolph County so the incumbents are favored here.
Caleb Hanna represents District 44. The Republican incumbent will face Democrat Robin Cutlip. This is a possible Democrat take away.
More to come next week ….
Contact Ron Gregory at 304-533-5185 or email@example.com. Hear his political commentary at 7 a.m. this Tuesday (because of Labor Day Monday) on the Tom Roten Morning Show on NewsRadio 800 WVHU, Huntington.