Gregory’s Web for October 25, 2020
by Ron Gregory
I caused quite an uproar last week with my comments about State Senate President Mitch Carmichael being in line to become Chief of Staff in a second Governor Jim Justice administration.
Aides to Justice quickly informed me that Justice and Carmichael had “never discussed that.” Those on the political side scolded me by saying I was “costing the Governor teacher votes.”
It’s safe to say Carmichael is not revered by teachers. They are largely given credit for helping Amy Nichole Grady, a fellow teacher, defeat him in the Republican primary.
On the other hand, I’ve pointed out here that teacher and school service personnel unions unanimously support one of Justice’s opponents, Democrat Kanawha County Commissioner Ben Salango. I’ve questioned why teachers, who have gotten more than they ever asked for from Justice, support his challenger in the first place.
Carmichael himself called me to say he had not discussed a job after January 1 with the chief executive. I duly reported what he and the governor’s people had to say. That included his comment that he is “happy at CityNet,” his current employer.
I mentioned then that State Senator Craig Blair is said to be in the running for COS as is Chief Counsel Brian Abraham of Logan.
As is always the case in politics and government, the list of players will change 50 times or more between now and January 1.
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Gubernatorial write-in candidate and former Republican legislator Michael Folk was quick to tell me Carmichael would never be Justice’s Chief.
Folk, who lost in the GOP primary in June for governor, said “someone very close the Governor” had vetoed the idea from the get-go. He said Justice values this unidentified person’s opinion.
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Folk and I wagered a friendly cup of coffee on the whole subject but he didn’t respond when I pointed out that if he (Folk) wins his write-in campaign, the appointment of a COS will be his — not Justice’s.
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Carmichael will forever be the teachers’ chief enemy, largely because of his infamous “smirk” as he gaveled the senate to adjournment.
The Senate President could have bottled up the teacher pay raises and other issues they pursued but he did not. Still, he became the target of their distrust.
The simple fact is that teacher and other school personnel’s dislike for Carmichael is unjustified.
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What a tangled web is being spun in Marshall County, where Republican State Senator Mike Mariney’s legal troubles have yet to end.
For 15 months now, Maroney has been the target of a misdemeanor solicitation of prostitution charge in Glen Dale.
A veil of secrecy has engulfed the case. And now, the charges will drag on past November 3, when Maroney is a candidate for re-election.
Prosecutor Rhonda Wade, whose commitment to the public’s right to know is virtually non-existent, wants to introduce new evidence in the case. But she will not now be prosecuting the charges.
According to a criminal complaint, Glen Dale police arrested a woman on August 5 after she was allegedly seen leaving Maroney’s residence on Wheeling Avenue.
The woman, Brandy Ann Cecil, had previously been identified as a prostitute, the complaint says.
Originally, Maroney’s cell phone had shown calls to a prostitute when it was retrieved by police.
Maroney’s attorney, Paul Harris, maintains Glen Dale police are trying to hurt Maroney’s re-election chances. Others say repeated delays in the case have served to hide Maroney’s misdeeds from the public for more than a year.
Maroney’s Democrat opponent, Josh Gary, has complained to the state supreme court about delays in the case and lack of transparency.
But Maroney told The (Wheeling) Intelligence he’s as frustrated by the continuances as anyone else. He also is concerned that incoming Prosecutor Joe Canestraro, now an assistant, has handled the case and openly supports Gary. Canestrano is currently a state legislator.
A special prosecutor is now going to be appointed in the case, pushing hearings scheduled before the election until after November 3.
In terms of transparency, when I asked if the magistrate court evidentiary hearing would be open to the public, I was told it would not because of Covid 19 concerns. But a court official said she “understood” that Wade’s office would issue a press release on the developments after the hearing.
In a terse response to my asking about that plan, Wade simply said she had no plans to ever issue a press release in the case.
Directives from the supreme court instruct local courts in making their hearings available to the public electronically.
Regardless of all the uproar, my sources in the Second District insist that Maroney is still favored for re-election.
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Relieving a state party’s executive director weeks before a huge general election does not seem like good politics. Removing his replacement days before the same election makes even less sense. But when did anyone ever accuse state Republicans of using good political judgment?
State GOP Chair Melody Potter reportedly sent Interim Director Nate Washington. packing after a reimbursement dispute last week. That came after Director Byron Fisher was canned on July 2, reportedly because he did not please Potter either.
So, except for radio commercials voiced by Potter herself, the state party appears as dysfunctional as Republicans in other jurisdictions like Huntington.
Fisher refused to discuss his leaving the state role to return to Kentucky, even on social media (there’s a twist). Washington’s departure apparently left nobody to coordinate phone banks or get out the vote efforts.
Friends of the two described Potter as a “tyrant” and said she made demands that nobody would follow. “She told Nate to deliver some stuff in his own car,” one said. “When he asked if he’d be reimbursed for travel, she told him he would not.”
Potter has been known as a strict fundamentalist in terms of religion, often conducting Bible studies and referring to her Christian beliefs. But one source added, “most everybody in the Christian community is fed up with her tyranny. It’s her way or the highway.”
The same sources said a movement is underway to remove Potter as chair. Her current term runs for two.more years.
Efforts to remove party chairs generally fail and the sources acknowledged that only about one-third of state executive committee members have expressed an interest.
Ironically, an on-going court battle surrounds Potter’s arbitrary removal of Wood County Chair Rob Cornelius.
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Potter, who recently recovered from Covid-19, is still in a strong position. Staff for President Trump in the state remain allied with her and she is endorsed by Justice.
Meanwhile, the GOP in West Virginia collapses. If it weren’t for Trump’s sky-high popularity, Democrats would be back in the driver’s seat.
In fact, it was pretty much Trump’s popularity and the leftward drift of Democrats that put Republicans in the driver’s seat here to begin with.
Those Republicans who think it was their brilliant strategy and tremendously qualified candidates who did it are just wrong.
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Huntington Republicans continue their self-assassination efforts. The petty personal social media attacks continue with no end in sight.
The party deserves much better than its getting, particularly in the 16th Delegate District. If it was possible, the disgruntled group would cause that district to switch from majority Republican to all-Democrat.
One such site recently announced it has given up on the city and will shut down on December 31. Apparently, they’ll hang around to dispense political wisdom a few more weeks. I, for one, am grateful.
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Unfortunately, my friends in Marion County tell me Democrat Delegate Mike Caputo is going to win the contested State Senate seat in District 13.
Caputo is apparently using his union leadership position to overcome the debacle of having a run-in with the door of the House chamber. My sources say the Trump red wave has had little effect on Marion and Monongalia counties, which is where 13 is located.
Caputo was also apparently able to knock a doorman down and get physical with at least one Republican female delegate. His behavior, which he subsequently apologized for, evidently does not cause sufficient concern among Democrat feminists to alter his path to victory.
Legislative immunity was accepted by Kanawha Circuit Judge Tod Kaufman as sufficient to cover any possible legal offense. Similar claims in the past have not always worked as well
Republican Rebecca Polls would make a great senator. Perhaps an upset will occur.
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Democrats cried foul when Republican Delegate Eric Nelson fired back with “negative advertising” in his heated Kanawha State Senate race with Democrat Delegate Andrew Robinson.
That came after a barrage of attacks by Robinson supporters on Nelson.
In football, it is said that the referees always penalize the player who throws the second punch because that’s the one they see. Perhaps it’s the same for Democrat partisans who said how “disappointed” they are in Nelson but didn’t seem bothered by the anti-Nelson advertising.
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A Triton Polling and Research survey for Ravenswood radio station WMOV confirmed last week that Justice is the overwhelming favorite for Governor.
The survey, done on October 19 and 20, gave Justice 53% support; Salango, 35%; Libertarian Erika Kolenich 3.3%; and Mountain Party candidate Danny Lutz 3.3%.
For Secretary of State, Republican incumbent Mac Warner was leading former Democrat SOS Natalie Tennant, 51% to 44.5%.
GOP Attorney General Patrick Morrisey was ahead of Democrat challenger Sam Petsonk, 53 to 41%. Incumbent Democrat Treasurer John Perdue led Republican Riley Moore, 55 to 38%.
President Trump led Democrat Joe Biden, 58-38%. No results were reported in the Commissioner of Agriculture race between incumbent Republican Kent Leonhardt and Democrat State Senator Bob Beach.
Beach is clearly the underdog in that race.
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It’s safe to say that while Justice had made much of his economic development efforts and announced some major projects as the election approaches, the Hobet Mine property is not at the top of his personal list. Despite my repeated requests for an update on the Boone-Lincoln project, the governor’s office remains silent. Media outlets were able to recently learn that plans for the National Guard to use a part of the site have been abandoned.
As I pointed out last week, legislators such as Senator Ron Stollings and Rodney Miller are working tirelessly on the project to turn the former mine property into an industrial park.
It took investigative reporting to even learn that the three-year-old promise to locate a National Guard detachment on part of the property had been abandoned. Those same folks had to explain that Adjutant General Hoyer, who announced the Guard plans for Hobet in 2017, is now in Morgantown with no official role in what is now known as the Rock Creek industrial Park development.
Hoyer did tell some reporters that a conflict arose over whether the Guard unit would help or hinder economic growth but Boone County officials called that “a lie.”
So much for an area of the state that desperately needs an economic boost, I guess.
Contact Ron Gregory 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.