Gregory’s Web for September 27, 2020
by Ron Gregory
Politics, it is said, makes strange bedfellows. That may be illustrated in 2020 better than ever.
In Huntington, we have a self-proclaimed group supporting “business alliance candidates” for city council. The list includes Democrats and Republicans and is being pushed on social media and other places.
Although I can find no official record or finance reporting by this group, they also don’t seem to provide a “paid for by” line on their advocacy advertising.
And, readers can check it themselves, this is definitely advocacy advertising. Their post of a meet and greet this week points out which candidates they favor although one of their candidates, Linda Blough in District Eight, claimed in a post that she didn’t know how she won their support.
Advocacy advertising definitely requires financial disclosure of some kind.
If I was a Huntington voter being told who the qualified “business” candidates are, I’d want to know who exactly decided their “qualifications.” I’d also wonder about THEIR qualifications to judge the best qualified.
They’re not off to a good start in proving honesty and transparency by failing to reveal who is behind their organization, either. Anonymity does not work well in the election process.
If the group plans no financial and organizational reporting, it would seem each of the candidates would have to post a disclaimer and include any costs in their financial reports. The meet and greet is planned at the Double Tree. Are we to assume that’s free? And, if so, it would be an in-kind contribution to the listed candidates. Maybe.
That’s an emphatic maybe if candidates (like Blount) didn’t authorize being on the list.
At least one of their endorsed candidates, David Harrington, did disclose that his campaign paid for a Facebook post of the event.
Oh what a tangled web we weave ….
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There may be a fine line between reporting the finances of advocacy advertising and research but there IS a line. News organizations, for example, can conduct an unbiased, legitimate poll without having to report financially. They can hold a nonpartisan candidate forum.
If questions are above-board and fair, a poll of voters is not advocacy and does not “push” respondents to vote for one candidate over another.
In my opinion, a candidate can even poll voters about his or her race without the necessity of financial reporting. Most would report out of an abundance of caution but I don’t think they have to.
But the Huntington situation is not the same. I’m waiting to see the finance report of who this “business alliance” is, who their officers are and what they’re willing to spend to elect their chosen candidates.
The public has a right to know. Hopefully, everything is on the up-and-up. A little transparency could show that.
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Not only do I question the business alliance’s compliance with election laws, I doubt their good judgment in candidate selection.
For council at large, there can be no more seasoned, qualified “business” candidate than longtime public official Democrat Bob Bailey. Yet the alliance does not recommend him.
Bailey’s most recent tenure as a county commissioner included development of numerous improvements and infrastructure projects that spur economic development.
Economic development brings jobs, which are supposed to be the focus of this “pro-business” group.
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In the social media age, folks can put together “commercials” economically and gain some audience traction by simply posting their work product.
In House District 59 where the potentially homeless Morgan County Commissioner, Ken Reed, is not sure where he lives, his write-in opponent has a cute and effective video.
Patricia “Patch” Adams is a far right winger who stands as much chance of beating Republican Reed as I do. Reed is unopposed on the ballot after defeating Delegate Larry Kump in the primary. No Democrat filed.
The video shows the home Reed says he lives in although there are serious questions whether he does. Nevertheless, a Kanawha County judge threw out a challenge to his residency.
Anyway, Adams’ ad concludes by asking, “If he lies about where he lives, what else does he lie about?”
It also refers to Reed, a pharmacist who owns a small chain of drug stores, as “Opioid Ken.”
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Then there’s a powerful video attacking Democrat Delegate Mike Caputo for the dust-up he had in the House chamber last year.
The video uses Caputo’s own words to condemn his behavior, which included kicking the chamber door and injuring an assistant doorman.
Most notable in the tussle was that Caputo allegedly put his hands on fellow Republican Delegate Sharon Malcolm to “push her aside.”
Caputo’s “confession” leads the commercial to the voice of Malcomb, who is now deceased, describing the incident.
The graphics and presentation of the spot are very well done and the video is compelling.
If seen by enough people, the commercial might well flip the 13th Senate District for Caputo’s Republican opponent, Rebecca Polis. Caputo is so proud of his past performance that he’s attempting to move from his House seat to the Senate.
Polis, a minister, has said she will not bring up the episode in her campaign against Caputo.
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Former Logan Senator Richard Ojeda has given President Donald Trump fair warning. In his latest social media rampage, the spokesman for No Democrat Left Behind says, “I’ve got some big news — and I can assure you that we’re about to scare the ever-living s–t out of Donald Trump and the Republican Party.”
Looks like Ojeda’s wife has not been able to accomplish what it took Bess Truman years to do when she convinced Harry to say “manure” instead of the “s” word. Believe me, Ojeda used no hyphens in his version.
Beyond that, Ojeda let the world know, “It is my absolute pleasure to announce the formation of No Dem Left Behind PAC. Together, we’re going to take back districts in rural America from the slimy hands of the power-hungry, bureaucrat-serving GOPers who think they can coast on to win their re-elections without doing anything to actually earn that seat.”
He’s so eloquent. No wonder he’s their spokesman; he has a way with words. And his personal track record of losing his home precinct and home county to Republican Carol Miller in 2016 speaks well as to his ability to win. He’s one Democrat who got “left behind.”
Ojeda closed his tirade by begging for donations. He puts Jimmy Swaggart to shame in that department too. And he may be similar to Brother Swaggart in other ways.
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As parents make valiant attempts to understand Governor Jim Justice’s school coloring books, Covid-19 still impacts our daily lives.
Beside requiring masks and social distancing, the results of which are dubious at best, Covid is still tragically killing hundreds.
In the political arena, Senate Majority Leader Tom Takubo hosted a fundraising reception for two legislative candidates two days before testing positive for COVID-19.
The Republican Senator, who is also a medical doctor, said the event was outdoors with social distancing. It raised funds for
Delegate Eric Nelson, R-Kanawha, and former Delegate Chris Stansbury, R-Kanawha. Nelson is running for the State Senate and Stansbury wants his old House seat back.
Takubo told reporters the reception followed all COVID-19 protocols, including having no communal food or beverages, and requiring wearing of face masks.
“I was extremely cautious about that,” Takubo said. “We made sure everyone coming wore masks. We had a couple of people show up without masks, and we had a box of masks, and we asked people to put them on.”
He said food was limited to individual snack bags of trail mix, and individual bottles of beverages to avoid any sharing of food or drinks.
Since Takubo practiced all Covid protocol, two things are apparent: the virus is still a silent villain in our community and wearing masks and social distancing may not be too effective.
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Although polling data appears to indicate that voters lean more toward Justice thanks to his daily Covid briefings, I still believe it and highways are the only keys to cutting into his victory margin.
Every one I hear from agrees that the color-coded maps and constant criteria changes make Justice look foolish. But his poll numbers are steady or increasing.
Rather than harp about the Governor’s penchant for not paying his bills, Democrat Ben Salango should point out how he’d do things differently on Covid — if he would.
I knew, without inside information, that Justice would attack Salango’s multi-million dollar Kanawha County soccer complex. I kept saying that Salango touting it as a major accomplishment did not play well with average voters. It didn’t and doesn’t.
Surely all soccer moms and dads are already for Salango. Tell us something that appeals to the general public, Commissioner.
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Speaking of Salango, one of his outspoken supporters has a strange display on his vehicle.
On the back glass is professional “Salango for Governor” signage. On the side doors are magnetic “Crosier for Sheriff” signs.
For those outside Kanawha County, “Crosier” refers to Republican sheriff candidate Sean Crosier. He’s seeking to unseat incumbent Sheriff Mike Rutherford, a Democrat.
The wisdom of a political operative visibly showing support for candidates of both parties may seem bipartisan. The benefit to either candidate is doubtful, however.
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I mentioned how weird it was months ago, when Independent Delegate S Marshall Wilson pronounced his support for former Republican Delegate Michael Folk for Governor but added that if Folk lost the GOP primary, he (Wilson) would run as an Independent in the general.
I said then that having a supporter like Wilson might prove a problem since he obviously had little confidence in Folk’s chances of winning.
Now there’s a tiff between Folk and Wilson as Folk has apparently refused to endorse Wilson, who is now running as a write-in for Governor. Word is that Folk learned that Wilson was soliciting signatures to get on the ballot while allegedly supporting Folk. That does not set well with Folk and his supporters.
So Folk isn’t endorsing Wilson, whose write-in campaign is the longest of shots.
I have suggested — and will again — that Wilson would be most effective in his goal for liberty-loving state government to abandon his futile write-in campaign. His goal would be best advanced by helping Libertarian Erika Kolenich get as many votes as possible. Her name is ON the ballot.
Hopefully, Folk and Wilson will smoke the peace pipe. Both have a great deal to contribute to the cause of liberty and freedom.
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Keeping on with our early look at House races, the 54th District is currently represented by Republican John Hott. He’s unopposed for re-election.
Democrat Isaac Sponaugle is giving up his seat in District 55. He lost the primary for attorney general. Jared Shockey is the Democrat nominee and favorite. Brian Ward is the GOP candidate.
In the 56th, Republican incumbent Gary Howell has no opponent.
Republican incumbent Ruth Rowan has no opponent in 57.
Republican Daryl Cowles represents District 58 but he lost the primary to union-backed George Miller. The Democrat is Tom Hardin. Miller is favored to hold the GOP seat.
That brings us to 59, where Ken Reed will be the easy winner. More next week.
Contact Ron Gregory at 304-533-5185 or email@example.com. Hear his political commentary at 7 a.m. each Monday on the Tom Roten Morning Show on NewsRadio 800, WVHU, Huntington.