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Editorial

Gregory’s Web – February 12, 2023

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Ron Gregory Political Columnist - WV Statewide News

The West Virginia Republican state executive committee incorrectly reported in their latest newsletter that the party “regrets to announce the departure of Executive Director John Findlay.”

The committee and Chair Elgine McArdle may regret Findlay leaving but rank and file Republicans do not.

Most are relieved that he’s leaving before wrecking this state party as he did the Virginia state GOP.

That party went from controlling the state assembly and statewide offices to minority status under Findlay’s “leadership.”

The “announcement” came weeks after we and every other news source in the state announced he was leaving to join the Mooney for U.S. Senate campaign. That sort of signals that the state party’s loss is the Mooney campaign’s loss as well.

Not that Mooney ever had a chance of knocking off Democrat Senator Joe Manchin but Findlay’s presence should seal the deal. It won’t take long for the man who nearly destroyed the Virginia GOP to dismantle any chance Mooney ever had.

That the newsletter farewell has the nerve to credit Findlay with the GOP legislative supermajority shows the fantasy world they all live in. 

Credit Donald Trump with the landslide not John Findlay.

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The party will do an “extensive and meticulous search” for a replacement, the letter goes on.

Meanwhile, former Executive Director Byron Fisher has rejoined the team as Senior Advisor, and will help manage the day-to-day operations.

* * * * * 

Fisher is a good hire as a unifier rather than a divider and the party is well served with his skillful presence. He knows how to work with people with divergent points of view, which will serve the party well. That is not a quality Finlay possesses.

* * * * * *

Speaking of McArdle, at least one other GOP gubernatorial candidate reported seeing her in the crowd at Secretary of State Mac Warner’s campaign announcement in January.

Warner announced at the state capitol veterans memorial that he’s running for governor in 2024.

“I’m assuming she’ll attend my kickoff and those for all the candidates,” he said. “She is supposed to be impartial.”

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In McArdle’s defense, Warner’s announcement in Charleston came a short time before a GOP dinner at the Civic Center. Obviously she did not drive from Wheeling to Charleston just for the announcement but the point is well taken. But likely not well received.

* * * * * *

The Kanawha County Commission deserves credit for being the most vocal public body in opposition to the never ending utility rate increase requests.

Under the leadership of Democrat President Kent Carper, the Commission has routinely filed in opposition to these increases with the state Public Service Commission. Their most recent success in stopping Mountaineer Gas from attaching an additional fee to every bill is impressive. 

Few commissioners take the time, as Carper often has, to appear and testify in opposition to rate hikes.

He has the clear support of fellow Democrat Ben Salango and Republican Lance Wheeleri⁸

The county commission’s efforts have not come without some successes in holding rates down, as I mentioned.

When Carper and his fellow commissioners – Democrat Ben Salango and Republican Lance Wheeler – learned of a recent “Pipeline Demand Charge” that Mountaineer Gas Company imposed on their customers, they were very unhappy despite getting the PSC to deny the demand charge.

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Then Mountaineer filed a notice of intent for another rate increase, the seventh one in 

two years. “Customers are experiencing sticker shock on their monthly bills,” Carper said.

As expected, the Commission will file a petition to intervene and oppose the raise in the general rate case.

Further, commissioners have reached out to West Virginia lawmakers urging them to create and pass legislation to  put a cap on utility rate hikes. “Passing legislation is the only way to curb these 

never-ending rate increases” Carper explained.

It remains to be seen how the business-oriented Republican supermajority legislature responds to that request.

Unlike the Kanawha Commission, some politicians have made a career of opposing utility rate increases without success.

Former Democrat Governor Bob Wise was a champion at that as both a state legislator and Congressman. He “fought” every rate increase but rarely slowed one down.

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Let’s see if the legislature joins Kanawha in effectively fighting the utility raises.

* * * * * *

With word on the street … well, the capitol hallway … that Fifth District Democrat Senator Bob Plymale will not run for re-election in 2024, others are considering seeking that seat.

Jason Stephens, of Wayne County, prefiled last week.

Stephens is one of the ultra right wingers too far astray for me but he’s already campaigning.

He’s particularly effective in using social media to further his cause.

* * * * * *

Former Cabell County Democrat Delegate Chad Lovejoy, one of the finest men to.ever serve in the legislature, has filed as a pre-candidate for judge in the Sixth Circuit.

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The District currently.has four judges with at least two rumored to be retiring.

The judgeship would be perfect for Lovejoy, as fair and impartial as they come.

There are efforts about to be made in the legislature to change some firm but fair Judge Lora Dyer, who should be on the Supreme Court herself, is seeking re-election in Jackson.County. 

Dyer would already be sitting on the high court bench if high level Republican operatives had not sabotaged her Supreme Court campaign. They lost adding to the GOP court majority when they did that. But Dyer is principled and continues to serve on the circuit court with my old friend Anita Harold Ashley.

Dyer essentially presides in Jackson County with Ashley in Roane.

Clarksburg attorney Jenna Robey is running for a Harrison County Judge spot. She’s already got a site on social media.

* *.*.*.* *

Also.seeking re-election is Nicholas County Judge Stephen.Callaghan. You’ll remember him as beating longtime Judge Gary Johnson in 2020. Callaghan was suspended from duties during the first two.years of his term due to a bogus ad he ran against Johnson.

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The doctored ad allegedly showed Johnson partying at the White House with President Barack Obama. It didn’t happen.

The immense West Virginia dislike for Obama definitely contributed to Johnson’s defeat. 

Callaghan sat out his two years as the Supreme Court appointed an interim judge. Then he was sworn in and is now presiding in Summersville. 

Johnson went on to become the state Supreme Court administrator and then mayor of Richwood.

Johnson replaced the beleaguered Bob Henry Baber and brought stability to the town.

* * * * * *

Speaking of presiding, Governor Jim Justice will host a roundtable event tomorrow (Monday. February 13).

He’ll be joined by Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, and Stephen Moore, distinguished fellow in economics at The Heritage Foundation. The two are among the nation’s leading experts on tax policy.

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They’ll meet with what the governor’s office calls “a panel of hardworking West Virginians.”

It’s not known where the governor’s office plans to find enough West Virginians to make up this “hard working” panel.

That’s sarcasm for those too slow to figure it out.

The Governor has been engaged in a dispute about tax policy with the state senate for months. He has consistently said a significant cut in the personal income tax will boost the state economy more than anything else. Some senators forcefully disagree and created their own plan. Needless to say, Justice doesn’t like it.

You can be certain these two experts will side with the Governor.

If anything, Justice is an expert at public relations. He wouldn’t be hosting this event if the expert opinion was going to find his proposal anywhere short of brilliant.

Surely some legislators will disagree.

* * * * * *

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Following through with his commitment, political consultant extraordinaire Larry Puccio hosted the first Moore Capito for Governor fundraiser last week.

Held in Puccio’s North Central West Virginia home base, guests included Capito’s mother, Senator Shelley Moore Capito. Puccio was master of ceremonies.

A great deal of Moore Capito’s chances hinge on how committed and involved his mother gets in the campaign. Her presence at this first reception is a good sign for Moore Capito.

It’s ironic that Moore Capito’s toughest opponent could be Huntington car dealer Chris Miller. He’s the son of Congresswoman Carol Miller.

Two powerful women have sons running for governor. That’s unusual. 

Never let it be said that West Virginia politics is dull. 

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. View all posts

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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.