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Gregory’s Web – October 23, 2022

Ron Gregory’s Weekly Column – covering all things politics in WV

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As election day draws nearer, the rhetoric and campaigning grow more intense.

Things are growing particularly tense in some State Senate races as voting draws near.

No attacks are more personal than those being made by former United States Attorney Mike Stuart on Democrat State Senator Ron Stollings in District Seven.

Internal polling by both sides shows Stollings comfortably ahead of Republican Stuart. With redistricting, the Seventh includes most of Stollings’ old district plus a Democrat-leaning section of Kanawha County.

The Republican supermajority legislature had intended to redistrict Stollings out but apparently had second thoughts. Thus the new district is much more likely to re-elect the Madison doctor than the one originally suggested.

During an appearance on the Tom Roten Morning Show last week, Stuart’s performance indicated he knows he’s behind. 

When candidates are losing, they turn all their attention toward trashing the opponent. Stuart had little positive to say about himself but attacked the Doctor/Senator repeatedly. 

Stuart tried to paint Stollings, a moderate Democrat, as a Mike Pushkin clone. As mentioned last week, Pushkin, the state Democrat chair, is as liberal as they come. The good doctor is not that at all.

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Stuart’s attacks on Stollings include assertions that the Senator’s strong support for industrial development at the former Hobet Mine property is tied to his own financial gain.

Stuart told Roten that Stollings owns a piece of Boone County property that would be enhanced by the Hobet project. 

Stuart says a multi-million dollar access road proposed by former Democrat Governor Earl Ray Tomblin would have gone through Stollings’ property. This would increase the value of the property exponentially, according to Stuart. Any access road would likely be built near where State Route 3 intersects with Corridor G (United States Route 119).

The GOP candidate goes on to say that when Republican Jim Justice became governor he canceled the project that was designed to help Stollings.

I’ve talked to numerous sources from the Tomblin administration who say that was not the case. All knowledgeable sources say when the road was initially proposed by Tomblin, it was believed that it would come close or through the Stollings property. But when the road was actually designed it did not come close to the acreage owned by Stollings for many years.

Stuart further implies that the Stollings property is undervalued by the county assessor. But he fails to mention that the 77-acre tract is landlocked. So this piece of Boone County hillside that’s landlocked with nothing but trees on it is portrayed as the finest plot of ground in Boone County by Stuart.

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Stuart basically lets it be known that he Is opposed to the Hobet project. He speaks negatively about a planned development there saying it would only produce “low-paying” jobs at best.

Stuart adds that he is endorsed by the West Virginia Coal Association and indicates he believes coal will continue to prosper. 

While Stollings is a coal proponent he has said southern West Virginia must diversify to prosper in the future. That, he says, is why he’s a major supporter of the Hobet property project.

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Finally, on the subject of Stuart, some of his supporters have been telling people “a vote for Stollings is a vote for taking away your guns.”

There is no more avid outdoorsman and hunting advocate than Stollings. He has a perfect voting record with the National Rifle Association.

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Meanwhile, the gloves are off in District 10 where ministers are involved. Incumbent Democrat Stephen Baldwin is a Presbyterian minister. 

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We reported last week that one Independent running in 10 was removed because his residence prohibited him from serving if elected. That was Harry Forbes, also a minister.

That left incumbent Democrat Senator Baldwin, Republican Vince Deeds, and Independent Aaron Ransom on the ballot.

The real fireworks involve Baldwin and Deeds. It was Deeds’ campaign Manager Ben Anderson who filed a petition to have Forbes removed.

Anderson said he believes Deeds is going to win anyway but many Baldwin supporters believe Forbes was in the race only to take votes from Deeds. Forbes campaigned on generally conservative positions like Deeds.

Controversy arose recently over a debate at Rupert and the West Virginia Troopers Association endorsement.

Deeds was a no-show at the Rupert debate although Forbes attended. Deeds said he and his wife were at a planned Family Weekend with their son.

Anderson called the debate a “set up” and noted that the Baldwin campaign organized the event and paid for it as well as video coverage.

Anderson said Deeds was indeed at West Point when the debate was held. He said Deeds had communicated from the beginning that he could not participate. He provided a letter from Baldwin’s campaign acknowledging Deeds would not attend. But Anderson said Baldwin acted as though they expected Deeds to be there.

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In the email, the Baldwin campaign notes that Deeds had said he would not attend but invited his campaign to pick up some of the costs for the event.

Then there’s the issue of the Trooper endorsement. Baldwin says he received a letter from them in September endorsing him. But when the association posted its list of endorsements recently on social media, Baldwin was not included. 

That omission caused Baldwin to ask, on the same Facebook post, why he wasn’t included. The next day the posting was removed, Anderson said.

Anderson said he spoke with Jeffery Chumley, vice president of the association, who said their board met on October 6 and voted 7-3 to withdraw the Baldwin endorsement. 

The Senator said he has had no communication from the association withdrawing the endorsement.

“I assume I still have it,” he said. 

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One reason the endorsement post was removed could be because it was obviously outdated. 

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The post included such endorsements as Cabell County’s Chad Lovejoy, who lost in the primary and will not be on the November ballot.

There were also misspellings of candidates’ names.

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I wrote earlier about how far out of step with voters the new leaders of the state Democrat party are.

To illustrate, a reader sent me a video recently posted by Vice Chair Danielle Walker, who is also a Monongalia County delegate. 

The video depicts a person in their vehicle raging to the camera: 

“You don’t have to wear white sheets anymore,” the person says. “because you hide behind badges.” The post was made by Walker during a Facebook Live – then later removed, according to the source.

The comment is all part of a nationwide effort by far-left liberals to brand all police officers as racist.

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Walker is definitely far left and the video illustrates how out of step she and the Democrat party are with average West Virginia voters, who admire and respect police officers.

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The state Republican party says it is gearing up for the election under the new leadership of Wheeling attorney Elgine McArdle. She was recently chosen as the new state party chair.

In an October newsletter, the party claims to be “working overtime to ensure victory on November 8th!”

The letter goes on to address some planned activities for the weeks ahead. This includes distributing yard signs in support of all four constitutional amendments that will appear on the ballot.

*All four of the conservative State Constitutional Amendments are perfectly in line with our Party Platform,” the letter declares.  

“It is imperative that these pass … so that conservative principles in judicial accountability, archaic taxation, educational reform and benefits for churches can bring West Virginia into the 21st Century.”

The party says it is also running a coordinated candidate and county party mail program.”We have partnered with dozens of House and Senate candidates, in addition to several local parties, to send mail to help with their elections. This is on top of providing free data and walk-app technology,” according to the letter.

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The letter then cautions, “There will be more in the next three weeks. We don’t want to publicly reveal our strategy

(but) rest assured the West Virginia Republican Party is doing everything possible to expand our majorities on November 8th!”

The GOP already controls both houses of the legislature by supermajorities. They hope to add to their numbers this year. They control the House by a 78-22 margin currently. My early prediction is it will be 77-23 beginning in January 2023.

The letter also asked readers to “save the date” of Saturday March 18, 2023 for the WVGOP’s Winter Meeting. The main event will be held at the Erickson Alumni Center in Morgantown.

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On the subject of state Republican chairs, sources say former Chair David Tyson is in danger of losing his law license. Tyson’s friends in Huntington, where he has been a prominent attorney for decades, thought he had voluntarily given up his license on December 31, 2021. “That’s what he told me,” one source said of the December date.

But a hearing was scheduled this month by the court to consider an Office of Disciplinary Counsel recommendation that Tyson be stripped of his license.

A Supreme Court spokesperson said Tyson was still listed as an active attorney earlier this month.

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Some likened Democrat Putnam County Commission candidate Jim Withrow to President Joe Biden recently.

Several in attendance at an Eleanor Town Council meeting say Withrow fell asleep during the meeting.

So asleep was he that the person providing a handout during the meeting paused “for about two minutes” waiting for the candidate to wake up.

Withrow is locked in a race with Republican Steve Deweese, a powerhouse in Putnam. 

Deweese is expected to win the seat, which should give Withrow more time to get his naps in.

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Republican strategist Greg Thomas is still one of my favorite people and the political genius I said he was last week.

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But it is beyond me why my friend Greg has chosen to nitpick Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper.

For one thing, Carper is not up for re-election until 2024. He has served on the Kanawha Commission going on 30 years. Yet Thomas recently declared Carper will never win another election.

Thomas is apparently miffed that Carper opposes Amendment 2 that would allow the legislature to remove such things as the motor vehicle tax. Thomas strongly supports the amendment.

After declaring Carper politically dead, Thomas attacked him and the Commission (which includes Republican Lance Wheeler by the way) this week for “wasting taxpayer money” at the downtown Judicial Annex.

The “wasted money” goes for a new air system that replaces one 25 years old.

That the old system has outlived its life expectancy and the commission took public bids on the project did not affect Thomas’ criticism of the project. 

Carper will get the last word when he’s re-elected in two years.

Contact Ron Gregory at 304-533-5185; ronjoegregory@gmail.com; or PO Box 20297, Charleston, WV 25362. Confidentiality guaranteed.

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  • Ron Gregory

    From Mayor of Glenville at age 26 to Assistant Mayor of Charleston, management of various public entities, and countless political races in West Virginia – Ron Gregory is the most noted political correspondent in the state.

From Mayor of Glenville at age 26 to Assistant Mayor of Charleston, management of various public entities, and countless political races in West Virginia - Ron Gregory is the most noted political correspondent in the state.