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Editorial

Gregory’s Web – April 9, 2023

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Ron Gregory Political Columnist - WV Statewide News

We’ve already chronicled, in a separate Web brief, the fundraising skills of Republican Governor candidate Chris Miller.

While others are justly proud of raising a quarter of a million dollars, Miller has brought in three million dollars since launching his campaign a year ago.

Yes, folks, that’s three MILLION. Most of it (96%) comes from in-state donors. That’s impressive indeed.

Miller is the conservative businessman son of GOP Congresswoman Carol Miller, which would give him a good boost if he had no money.

But he’s got THREE MILLION, putting him in a leadership position to win the 2024 nomination.

His car dealerships are on the cutting edge of modern technology so he knows how to enlist people and market his cars – and candidacy. That technical internet knowledge will serve him well in getting to know people.

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Kanawha Delegate Moore Capito, son of U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito, is in a leading role as well. We’ll mention his fundraising shortly.

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Secretary of State Mac Warner’s campaign has raised over $224,000 in his bid for governor. Warner cited supporters from all 55 counties, and noted resident donors from all parts of West Virginia. 

“I’m humbled by the support West Virginians all across the state have given me in the short time since announcing my candidacy,” the SOS said.

“People tell me they like the fact I’m a lifelong West Virginian and they recognize I am the only candidate for governor who has served in the military. So many people I meet have either served in the military, or have family members who have served, and they want Veteran conservative patriots in charge of government,” Warner went on.

“Just last week, veterans from all 55 counties joined the ‘Veterans and Military Family Members for Mac coalition,”‘ he added. That coalition now has more than 200 members and the number of volunteers is growing every day. 

‘My vision of an exploding West Virginia economy built on free markets, capitalism, and integrity resonates with citizens.  I look forward to building more coalitions and continuing the momentum as I hit the campaign trail,” Warner said.

Warner has been married for 40 years to Debbie Law Warner  who was born and raised in the Kanawha Valley.  Debbie currently serves as a member of the WV House of Delegates from Monongalia County 71.

Mac and Debbie have four children – two sons and two daughters – all of whom have served or are serving in the United States military.  The Warners have seven grandchildren.

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Learn more about Mac Warner’s campaign for governor at MacWarner.com.

Warner, who grew up in Charleston but lives in Morgantown, is one of the more moderate Republican candidates.

He represents a growing area of the state although Morgantown still trends Democrat in this highly red state.

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Meanwhile, State Auditor JB McCuskey has raised $374,000 and has $330,000 left. He announced his candidacy some time ago and is a member of a historically power Republican family.

Delegate Moore Capito has raised and still has more than half a million dollars on hand. Interestingly, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey shows nothing raised and no cash on hand on his latest report for an undeclared office.

He formally announced for governor this week. As reported in this news site, a conservative, anti-tax PAC has said it will spend as much as $6 million to elect Morrisey.

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A state of shock is likely where this column’s readership found themselves this week. After all, we had not been discussing for months that Morrisey was running for governor in 2024 and that Kanawha State Senator Mike Stuart was likely getting into the AG race. Both announced those things this week.

Morrissey becomes the instant frontrunner for governor and Stuart is in the same position for. AG.

But as noted, Morrisey is not assured of the nomination yet.

Capito and Miller present real serious competition. It’s still possible a legislator may jump in the race and make things even more interesting. To 

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We are still waiting for the other shoes to drop. We told you earlier that Republican Kanawha State Senator Eric Nelson will likely file for State Treasurer.

GOP State Senator Mark Hunt and former Republican Delegates Diana Graves and Larry Pack are likely statewide candidates.

Hunt is gauging his support for the open board of public works positions. Graves, now the Kanawha Republican chair, is doing the same.

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Pack is likely to wait on his decision since he will, presumably, step down from his governor’s assistant role when he announces.

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As noted by most other reports of the latest candidates, I can confirm that the GOP field for Governor in 2024 is crowded. With the incumbent out due to term limits, Morrisey is now the favorite.

But that can change as the campaign rhetoric heats up.

With his war chest, Miller stands the best shot at reshaping that race.

On the other hand, we did a story this week about two anti-tax PACs going out of their way to fund Morrisey and Congressman Mooney’s campaign for Manchin’s U.S. Senate seat.

Republicans may have proclaimed, “West Virginia is not for sale” when Democrat Jay Rockefeller spent some of his millions to defeat Republican Governor Arch Moore, but it appears they may have changed their minds.

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With a now-indicted President Trump leading the ticket, the Republican nominee is likely to win next year for governor.

But, hold the celebratory headlines, Elgine McArdle, the man on the white horse just stepped up.

Huntington Mayor Supreme Steve Williams told reporters last week … again, what we’ve been telling you for months. He’s being inundated by people wanting him to be the Democrat for Governor in 2024. That’s when his term as mayor ends as well.

Williams has been an excellent mayor. Even though he did NOT ban the wearing of WVWho blue and gold on the city’s streets, he is my favorite mayor (sorry Amy, you’ll be first when Williams retires with Logan’s Serafino Nolletti not far behind. Lol).

Economically, Williams has Huntington moving in the right direction and it is a welcoming city for all. Not to mention how his coaching skills have improved Marshall sports teams. The latter is a joke, serious readers.

Williams told reporters he hears from folks every day urging him to run for governor. He will likely take the plunge unless he runs for a legislative seat. He will definitely continue serving the public.

I have previously mentioned West Virginia Can’t Wait founder  Stephen Smith, and Kanawha County Commissioner Ben Salango as potential Democrat candidates for the top job. They have the not-uncommon problem of both coming from Kanawha, so they might split that vote which would help Williams.

Salango met Justice on the ballot at the height of the Governor’s popularity in 2020. Justice used free airtime to “update” citizens on the Covid pandemic when they were scared that everyone was going to die. That’s when he fully assumed the grandfatherly role.

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Then, it seemed a vote for Salango was a vote FOR Covid. Nobody could have beaten Justice that year.

But with the virus nearly out of the picture, whichever Democrat is nominated will be a mere mortal running against a Republican mere mortal. Justice is term-limited from running again.

So I give Williams, Salango, and Smith a legitimate shot at the top spot. It would not be wise for the GOP nominee to assume he has the election won.

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Enough has likely been said about former Monongalia County Democrat Chair Shane Assadzandi.

He filled social media with his exploits though his narrative was hard to decipher.

He made some serious accusations against Delegate and State Democrat Party Chair Mike Pushkin of Kanawha. They included that Pushkin threatened to expose numerous social media posts Assadzandi made while attempting to recover from a serious illness.

Pushkin allegedly made the threat if Assadzandi did not resign IMMEDIATELY as Monongalia County Democrat chair. Pushkin allegedly said he would air all of the man’s embarrassing posts.

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Assadzani resigned after saying he wouldn’t since he had already resigned, effective May 8.

Assadzani thought Pushkin wanted to drag his name through the mud just to embarrass him.

But an astute reader (do I have any others) pointed out that was not the sole motive.

A more logical reason was offered by a Kanawha County election expert. It’s especially intriguing if one assumes Pushkin would still like to be the minority leader of 12 Democrats in a 100-member House.

He made an aborted effort to be minority leader before Doug Skaff clearly had the support to win and Pushkin switched to back Skaff for the just-past session.

Even if Pushkin does not want the leader job now, it’s thought he’d like another vote for his progressive agenda regardless.

It’s the Mon County Democrat Executive Committee, who will recommend three names to replace Walker. With Assadzani in charge, the three submitted are likely to be anti-Pushkin.

He might also need the Mon vote at some point to remain as state chair, a position he relishes.

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So Pushkin conceivably wanted the resignation immediately so he could appoint a Monongalia chair friendly to him. That new chair would “guide” the committee to name pro-Pushkin nominees.

There’s nothing but pure old-fashioned politics at play if there’s truth to our story.

Let’s see who Pushkin appoints as Mon chair.

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Raleigh Republican Delegate Branden Steele of Beckley cleared another hurdle Kanawha Senator Mike Stuart does not have to cross when he took himself out of the running for AG.

With a thriving law practice, Steele may have decided not to take a salary cut to be AG.

He stopped just short of endorsing Stuart, the former U.S. Attorney.

Stuart, whose reputation is that of a tough-nosed anti-drug prosecutor (he was Trump’s U.S. Attorney in Charleston) is the clear favorite to win that race now.

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Always good for a quote, I asked Democrat Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper if he was “anxious to run for his job” in 2024.

He paused and asked me to repeat the question.

He smiled as he responded, “I’m anxious to DO my job, not anxious to run for it.”

Great comment indeed.

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. 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.