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Gregory’s Web – April 2, 2023

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Ron Gregory Political Columnist - WV Statewide News

Those who doubt whether I’ve read the tea leaves accurately will get their answer at 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, April 5.

That’s when Republican Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has scheduled a “special announcement” at the Embassy Suites in Charleston.

Morrisey is calling everyone in to tell them he’s running for Governor in 2024.

Keep in mind that Morrisey has told nobody what the announcement will be. I’m just making my usual educated guess. As you know, i’m seldom 

wrong.

About anything.

Morrisey could be running again for the U.S. Senate or he could be running for re-election as AG.

But he’s not. He’s got his eye on the Governor’s Mansion (where he’ll actually live, unlike the incumbent).

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Alhough he’ll deny it, Morrisey made the decision months ago to run for Governor. It likely wasn’t quite written in stone then but it will be April 5.

His  real options were to run for Democrat Joe Manchin’s U.S. Senate seat or Governor. Attorney General was out because he’s traveled the state advocating for term limits of two. He’s actually finishing his third term. Also, to remain a rising star nationally in the GOP, he needs to show everyone he can be elected Governor.

When Governor Jim Justice decided he’d run for the Senate (something he hasn’t formally  announced either) that sort of pushed Morrisey into the race for Governor.

It’s not that the AG would avoid a political fight with anybody, including Justice. But Governor presents a rare opportunity.

The GOP nominee will be elected Governor but the Senate candidate will be an underdog to incumbent Democrat Joe Manchin.

So, readers, expect no surprise Wednesday. You are already in the know by being smart enough to read this column.

Congratulations.

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The most startling news of the week came.when reporters discovered paperwork filed in Randolph County to garnish Justice’s salary.

What? The former billionaire richest man in West Virginia is not paying his debts? What blockbuster news.

The Citizens Bank of West Virginia, headquartered in Elkins, filed the paperwork after Justice’s family business defaulted on a more than $860,000 debt.

Justice took on his patented “aw shucks” persona to plead his usual innocence. It was “purely political” he said.

News flash. It is hardly “purely political” to owe a bank nearly a million dollars. It may not be 

“political” to refuse to pay the debt.

It seems the Justice family modus operandi is to never pay a bill without difficulty. If this was the first time, one might expect an explanation like the one Justice finally gave.

He claimed son Jay and Bluestone, his company, had turned over collateral worth more than the judgment to the bank.

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For the political part, he said the bank ⁿdidn’t call” him prior to filing their papers.One phone call would have solved the problem,  he said. Dozens of calls and written communication earlier failed to settle it. Why would one more produce a miracle?

But that’s how Justice does  business and, so far, it has a charm that works with voters. He and his companies avoid paying   

bills in full and the voters 

forgive or ignore his dishonesty.

I should admit here that I am a terrible money manager. I’ve been sued for debts myself.

But I’m not Governor. I’m not a role model. If I am, your aspirations aren’t very high.

We have a Governor who should be an embarrassment to everyone. He travels the state handing out taxpayer money that’s not his. His various state agencies are in shambles with even the Sfate Police in scandals. He just retains his popularity.

He fails to acknowledge that his absenteeism does nothing to foster good government in the departments.

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There’s not a reason for him to offer a defense really because the public just doesn’t care about the subject.

It’s a bit farfetched to believe the public wishes for something better. Sometimes, I wonder if the voters don’t envy Justice for getting I away from paying his bills. A modern Robin Hood maybe. It’s not too hard to imagine they wish they could escape paying off their debts like the Governor does. And when the nice checks come rolling in, Justice assumes credit for running the state well.

* * * * * *

A loyal reader points out that the Lincoln County office space debate is indicative of the battles we’ve been talking about here for months.

“It’s really the ‘new’ Republicans versus the ‘old,’” he pointed out in an email message.

He identifies Lincoln Sheriff Gary “Butch” Linville as one of the “old” Republicans since Linville swas elected in 2016 before the wave of Democrats re-registering as Republicans began in earnest.

Assessor Jamie Linville represents the “new” GOP who changed registration with more  and more voters switching from Democrat.

Naturally, there is some resentment between the two groups.

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Assessor Jamie Linville sees Sheriff Butch Linville’s request to trade offices as a “power grab” seeking to punish the Assessor for being late to the GOP.

I don’t think that’s the case with Sheriff Linville, who though a Republican himself, runs a pretty apolitical office.

It seems the Sheriff just studied the situation and suggested a switch.

For the reasons noted, Jamie Linville saw the plan as one of the “old” Republicans wanting to hurt him personally by reducing his office space and the fight was on.

The Republican county commission, who actually controls all courthouse space, has sided with the Sheriff and ordered the move. 

Jamie Linville is taking the issue to circuit court.

The commission is fighting back but has agreed to do nothing until the court issues an order.

It’s safe to assume the court will side with the Sheriff and county commission since the code is clear that county commissions are in charge of courthouse space.

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* * * * * *

Will the apparently coming indictment of former President Trump affect his 2024 campaign for re-election?

The short answer is absolutely. But we seldom go with short answers here.

In West Virginia, at least,it helps Trump to appear to be the victim of a vindictive government out to ruin a political enemy.

And that’s exactly how West Virginians view it.

They think Donald Trump is the one and only candidate who can dethrone the unholy Biden administration and that’s why Biden is having him prosecuted.

If Americans are still known for anything, it’s their sense of fairness. Thinking Trump is not being treated fairly enhances his shot at re-election next year. Expect him to win here and across America.

In this state, he’ll still get his 70%.

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* * * * * *

Could Cabell Senator Mike Woelfel be the next Donna Boley?

Those with long memories can recall when Boley was the Republican Minority Leader by virtue of being the only electted Republican in that body.

Boley, of Pleasants County, didn’t even have to vote for herself to win the honor.

Though she did her usual outstanding job, voters gave her three more Republicans in the next election and it’s been uphill ever since to 31.

Woelfel is currently the “leader” of the three Democrats (including himself) in the super Republican majority Senate. The count is 31-3.

While Woelfel withstood the GOP landslide of ’22 himself and does not have to stand for re-election until 2026, the other two are up in 2024.

Conceivably, Woelfel could be outnumbered 33-1 when the 2025 session is gaveled to order.

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Of course there’s a chance Democrats could hold both seats up next year and even pick up a few. Recent trends say that’s not likely.

Wayne/Cabell Democrat Bob Plymale has said he’s not running again in 2024. The other seat up is Marion County’s Mike Caputo.

Plymale clearly sees the writing on the wall and doesn’t intend to leave as a loser, which would be the likely result.

The Caputo district is one of the last Democrat outposts in the state so he will be the favorite to return, giving Woelfel at least one minority member to “lead.”

I wouldn’t bet the family farm, if I had one, on the Caputo race. But his losing in a tremendous Trump-inspired sweep is possible.

Unlike the liberal Caputo, Woelfel really is a moderate who votes that way. He’d make an excellent leader if all 34 were Democrats.

Boley did an outstanding job when she was alone. Woelfel will make his district’s voice heard.

* * * * * *

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This just in, as Uncle Walter used to say. Reliable sources tell me Monongalia County Delegate Danielle Walker has been chosen as the new executive director of the state American Civil Liberties Union.

According to these sources, accepting the position means Walker must resign as a delegate and also step down as Vice Chair of the state Democrat party, where she’s second in command to fellow delegate and Chair Kanawha’s Mike Pushkin.

A check of Walker’s social media pages contains no mention of the ACLU appointment so maybe it isn’t official yet.

I did leave her a telephone message but she hasn’t returned it at press time.

When she does return it – which she always does promptly – if she says it isn’t true, we’ll do a correction.

If she must step down from the legislature, that will not necessarily be a blow to Democrats. By law, Justice would have to replace her with a fellow Democrat.

But losing the firebrand liberal will be a blow to that philosophy. Articulate and smart, Walker could always proclaim the progressive agenda better than anyone.

She is also a uniter whose speeches are not filled with scorn and animosity toward those with whom she disagrees.

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I’m the one Republican who supports what the ACLU stands for. It will be better with her at the wheel.

I like the ACLU’s defense of liberty and transparency in government. Those are noble goals whoever fights for them.

I believe Walker will be an advocate for both.

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

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.