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Editorial

Gregory’s Web – January 15, 2023

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Ron Gregory Political Columnist - WV Statewide News

In an impressive show of support, Republican Secretary of State Mac Warner kicked off his 2024 gubernatorial campaign last week at the state capitol.

Announcing beside the Veterans Memorial, Warner attracted as many as 300 people to the announcement and reception that followed.

It made sense for Warner to choose his announcement location as he did. The Warners are well known for their devotion to military service and the Secretary brought his years of active military duty up throughout his speech.

Explaining that he is “battle tested” for leadership, Warner used various anecdotes to underscore his points.

Hr told the crowd first of growing up in a neighborhood near the capitol. Then he recognized the contributions of the military to our daily lives.

“You may wonder why I offer such recognition to our military and the ‘service’ they represent,” he said. “It is no accident we are gathered today in front of the Veterans Memorial on the State Capitol grounds. You see, leadership, dedication to duty, and service above self is what separates me – and all fellow patriots here today – from others who may seek the highest office in our state. We live in serious times, and serious times call for serious leaders.”

Warner gave examples of life-or-death situations he was involved in as a military leader.

He summed it up, “Military experience has taught me that leadership is not inherited and it isn’t bought. Leadership is earned by being on the front lines, facing challenges, making tough decisions, and producing positive results. Decades of service have also instilled in me an appreciation for organizational structures, a skilled chain of command, the importance of staffing issues, and the need to build strong, competent teams.”

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The candidate said he will use his training and experience to lead the state.”The best days are yet ahead,” he proclaimed.

The speech was clearly well received and met with enthusiasm by those on hand. 

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Among those in the crowd for Warner’s announcement were some of his retired military colleagues. He was also accompanied by his wife, Debbie, a new member of the House of Delegates from Monongalia County.

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Did you ever notice how politicians and others refer to *Mon County” rather than Monongalia?

That’s mostly because they can’t remember how that name differs from the Monongahela River. Rather than confirm their ignorance, they just call it “Mon.”

Governor Jim Justice constantly refers to “Mon County.”

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It’s likely a smart move on Warner’s behalf to run a veteran-centered campaign and nobody will question his credentials in that area.

The secretary’s brother, Monty, captured the 2004 Republican gubernatorial nomination largely based on his military experience. He took a big loss to Democrat Joe Manchin in the general election that year after barely edging out banker Dan Moore in the primary. I was a paid staffer in the Moore campaign. 

I also well remember the 1996 GOP primary won by former Governor Cecil Underwood.

Underwood’s famous Republican opponent was the astronaut Jon McBride. He, too, based his campaign on his military career. McBride’s credentials were also quite impressive. He lost to Underwood in the primary, however.

So a successful military career does not automatically elect anyone Governor. On the other hand, it can’t hurt Warner in a crowded field.

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I well recall sitting at McBride’s Charleston headquarters in 1996 and being shown a map of McBride’s “road to victory.”

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A McBride staffer confidently showed  me red and green  pins that represented Veterans organizations in the state.

“We get all these veterans behind us 100 percent and Jon’s a big winner,” he said.

Needless to say, they didn’t get nearly 100 percent support from veterans but they did execute a strategy aimed almost entirely at veterans.

Most vets likely voted for the eventual winner, Underwood, who went on to win his second term as Governor that fall.

That’s the year Democrats nominated Kanawha State Senator Charlotte Pritt. The Senator had defeated Joe Manchin in a divisive primary that cost her many Manchin Democrats in the general election.

In fact, most pundits still believe Manchin got firmly behind Underwood, costing Pritt the election. Of course Manchin picked up the pieces and went on to a highly-successful political career.

Some also point out that the state was still overwhelmingly Democrat in earlier days and wonder if most veterans were not even eligible to vote in the GOP primary.

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I do think the veteran-centered campaign makes sense for Warner. But the track record shows it alone won’t elect him.

Of course he will tout his accomplishments as Secretary of State, which are also quite impressive.

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Warner’s candidacy for Governor opens the door for somebody new to be elected secretary of state in 2024.

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David Mark, managing editor of Washington Magazine, makes much of family dynasties and how they may effect the West Virginia Governor race in 2024.

Largely.referring to.Kanawha County Delegate Moore Capito and Huntington car dealer Chris Miller, Mark wonders aloud how voters will perceive the two.

Capito announced his Governor run in a late November press release. Miller filed pre-candidacy papers for the job more than a year ago and has been campaigning ever since.

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Capito, of course, is a part of an obvious state dynasty. His grandfather was the late Governor Arch Moore, the iconic governor who served for a record 12 years. Before that, Arch Moore built a dynasty as the state’s First District Congressman.

Arch Moore’s daughter, Shelley Moore Capito, was elected to the House of Delegates from Kanawha before winning a congressional seat. She’s gone on to become the state’s junior United States Senator.

Shelley Capito is Moore Capito’s mother. 

In fact, Moore Capito carries the entire name of the late Governor as Arch Alfred Moore Capito. He uses the name Moore Capito, however.

Chris Miller is the son of Congresswoman Carol Miller.

Congresswoman Miller’s father, Sam Devine, served as an Ohio Congressman, which is the start of Mark’s family dynasty theory.

It may be stretching it a bit to call the Millers a West Virginia political dynasty but Mark used it as the basis for his lengthy article. The fact is the Miller family name is not as entrenched in the West Virginia Republican party as the Moores.

One thing is certain; with the younger  Miller and Capito running in a crowded field, either has a real shot at being elected. It’s going to be a primary where 30 percent could be a winning number.

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There is likely little personal contact on Capitol Hill between Senator Capito and Congresswoman Miller, so the race may not be as uncomfortable for the two as it seems. Nevertheless, each mother can be expected to wholeheartedly support her son.

I continue to wonder if any Chsrlestonian can be elected governor but we’re likely to have plenty of chances to see in 2024.

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The state Republican Party’s celebration dinner the past week attracted numerous legislators since they were already in town for the beginning of the new session.

The GOP claimed 270 attended which may represent the tickets sold. Those.who attended disputed the number with one saying, “the little room they had (at the Charleston Civic Center) wouldn’t have held 270 people.”

An.old rule of politics is to rent a tiny space and then brag that the attendance was “overflowing.” It’s much easier to do that with a small room.

That could.be the advice followed by Chair Elgine McArdle.

We will never know since McArdle still avoids talking with me about any party issues.

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She does, however, manage to fire off emails saying I’ve got my information wrong. Despite my requests, she doesn’t say what’s wrong and offer me the “correct” info.

McArdle generally explains that she’s a busy attorney, too tied up to respond. If she’s that busy, maybe she should step down and let someone with more time handle the job.

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Former Delegate Larry Pack is considering several options for 2024. The Kanawha Countian has widely been discussed as a possible Secretary of.State, the position.Warner is giving up to run for governor.

Pack has been mentioned for  Governor himself but seems to be focused on Secretary of State or State Auditor.

Pack mentions what may well be true: in 2024,.all board of public works offices may be.

open seats without an incumbent running. That might be the first time that has ever happened.

Governor.Justice is term limited from seeking a third term. Warner is running for Governor. Treasurer Riley Moore is running for Congress.

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Auditor J.B. McCuskey, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and Agriculture Commissioner Kent Leonhardt are thinking of running for governor as well.

If all of them jump into other races, the seats will be open in 2024.

Pack has money as well as name recognition that will serve him well in any statewide run.

He is now an advisor to Justice and is well known for his Christian values.

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The national press will all likely jump on the bandwagon of the family feud between the Millers and the Moore-Capitos.

It doesn’t matter whether the story is entirely factual, it makes for good copy.

Readers and viewers will enjoy the painted images of the Carol Millers and Shelley Capitos clashing. It’s not likely either will, although they certainly don’t see eye-to-eye on every issue. 

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For example, Miller is just as ultra right wing as Congressman Alex Mooney but Capito clearly is not.

As we’ve discussed here before it will be interesting to see who the right wingers support in a crowded field.

In a multi-candidate race where five or six solid candidates are running, the Trump devotees could well swing the election their way.

While all the GOP field will likely make their religious values a part of the campaign, only one or two will get solid support from the religious community.

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Many readers ask which Democrats will run for Governor in 2024. I always list their 2020 nominee, Kanawha County Commissioner Ben Salango and Huntington Mayor Steve Williams as possibilities. 

Being in such a weak legislative and board of public works position makes it hard to envision other potential candidates. Someone will likely emerge, however.

Having all board of public works members running for other offices would also open their current offices for competition.

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Former Democrat Secretary of State Natalie Tennant has lost twice to Warner and might run again with the seat open. She clearly enjoyed serving in that position. 

Mary Ann Claytor appears to still be running for Auditor. She has lost twice to McCuskey but would be formidable with a solid base of support. She and her supporters work social media very well.

Ex-state Treasurer John Perdue lost to Riley Moore in 2020 but could be a logical choice for his old office.

Despite the clear Republican advantage, it’s likely Democrats will leave none of the statewide offices uncontested in two years.

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

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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.