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Editorial

Gregory’s Web – May 13, 2023

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Ron Gregory political columnist

Former Kanawha County Republican Executive Committee Chair Tresa Howell is running for House of Delegates in District 52.

Howell is the immediate past chair, having resigned just short of completing her term of office for “personal reasons” some months ago.

I phoned Howell when she resigned but she did not return my call until after my column was published for that week.

I mistakenly thought she had read the column but apparently, she hadn’t when she finally called me a day or so later.

When she asked for no corrections, I assumed she was okay with what I’d written.

It turns out that later she saw the original column and was perturbed that I said she had not called me back. She hadn’t when the column was written and printed.

She complained that I failed to quote her. That’s because the column was already published before she returned the call. She was immediately out to “get” me.

She refused to listen to my explanation. It’s not good to have a legislator who won’t even listen.

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The seat is currently held by Democrat attorney Larry Rowe, a good listener. He is one of the few Dems who has survived the GOP election purges of the past decade.

Even with redistricting, statehouse Republicans thought it would be impossible to gerrymander the liberal Rowe out. But they nearly did it with Rowe only winning re-election over relatively unknown Greg Hendricks by about 170 votes in 2022.

Apparently, Howell now believes Rowe is vulnerable. She will clearly contrast her right-wing views with Rowe’s on the issues. She will likely refuse to hear his points of view.

Meanwhile, I’ll support Rowe partly because of the childish way Howell handled her resignation.

I don’t mind legitimate complaints but I could hardly quote Howell when she hadn’t called me.

If he runs again, Rowe will beat her in November ’24.

* * * * * *

Former Eastern Panhandle Delegate Michael Folk is “probably” going to challenge Senate President Craig Blair in the 2024 Republican primary.

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Folk pre-filed earlier for an undesignated office.

It’s safe to say the ultra-conservative Folk does not think Blair is aligned sufficiently with the right wing.

Folk has quite a following and will be a tough opponent for Blair, also the Lieutenant Governor by virtue of being Senate President.

Next year marks the four-year anniversary of then-President Mitch Carmichael losing the GOP nomination to now-Senator Amy Grady.

Could a similar fate await the current president? It’s safe to say Blair has done little to endear himself to the far-right Republicans.

That’s mostly the same folks who think Governor Jim Justice is a RINO (Republican in Name Only).

* * * * * *

Putnam County Clerk Brian Wood has concluded that a run for Secretary of State is his best option in 2024.

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The Republican had told us here that he was “exploring” his potential candidacy a few weeks ago.

He made his decision official last week on statewide radio. Wood sent a clip of the program to me along with the message, “I’m in!”

Wood will have a good shot at winning with his Teays/Ohio/Kanawha Valley area trifecta of Putnam, Kanawha, and Cabell counties.

Gilmer County Republican Wesley Self has also pre-filed for Secretary of State. I found little about him from an internet search.

Current GOP SOS Mac Warner is giving up the post to run for Governor.

* * * * * *

Speaking of which, Warner is already campaigning hard.

He’s also adopted many of the arguments advanced by former President Donald Trump about the 2020 election.

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Warner boldly states his position and has declared that the individual states – not the federal government – should set the rules and conduct balloting.

Strong words initiated a recent Warner press release.

It began, “(Warner) has been sharing concerns and drawing attention to the impact current and former federal officials had in improperly influencing American voters in the 2020 election.”

Warner would no doubt like Trump’s endorsement in the governor race.

He has even boldly demanded the resignation of the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Of course, the likely current frontrunner, Attorney General Patrick

Morrisey feels he has a leg up on the Trump nod as well.

With Trump’s popularity still exceeding 70% in the Mountain State, all the GOP governor candidates would welcome a favorable comment from Trump.

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An endorsement might seal the deal for a statewide candidate.

* * * * * *

Likewise, both major Republican candidates for U.S. Senate would smile at a favorable note from the ex-president.

Governor Jim Justice has always claimed a long-term personal friendship with Trump. Congressman Alex Mooney. Justice’s major primary opponent won Trump’s vocal support when he and the other GOP Congressman David McKinley squared off due to redistricting last year.

Interestingly, in the Mooney-McKinley showdown, easily won by Mooney, Democrat Senator Joe Manchin endorsed McKinley. Now, ironically, the candidate Manchin crossed the aisle to go against, Mooney, who is campaigning for Manchin’s seat. Could there be a taste of revenge?

* * * * * *

A word from Florida is that Governor Ron DeSantis will announce for President at the end of this month.

There’s speculation DeSantis will endorse Mooney for Senate against Justice.

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That would make the Republican primary even more spicy.

* * * * * *

Huntington City Council member Ally Layman excitedly announced on social media last week that a “dream job” has been offered.

“I am proud to announce that I have accepted a position at the Women’s Health Center of West Virginia, as the new LGBTQIA+ Health Coordinator. This position is my dream job!!” Layman wrote.

Congratulations to one of the hardest working public servants around, who will remain on the council.

* * * * * *

Warner is running an old-fashioned grassroots campaign. While he’ll no doubt have some slick, modern commercials and print ads, he is working with groups in coalitions like Veterans for Warner and Women for Warner. That’s old-time grassroots politicking at its best and the Warners are good at it.

Most current campaigners think going door-to-door is all there is to “grassroots.” It takes a lot more than that.

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Mac Warner has enjoyed very positive responses to his early campaign techniques.

He comes across as a humble and fair public servant.

It helps if the public genuinely likes a candidate. Voters do like Warner when they meet him.

* * * * * *

Cecil Silva has pre-filed as a Democrat for governor.

Silva lost the Republican primary in 2022 to Hamlin Mayor David Adkins for House of Delegates from Lincoln County.

* * * * * *

Former State Treasurer John Perdue has been State Executive Director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency in West Virginia for some time now.

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I asked one of his longtime supporters last week if Perdue is giving any thought to running for his old job in 2024. The friend chuckled.

“He’s really happy where he is now,” he replied.

Perdue was off work due to a death in the family. We’ll try to catch up with him soon and see what his plans are.

Current Treasurer Riley Moore, a Republican, is running for Congress next year. He’s seeking Mooney’s current seat.

So the Treasurer job is open.

* * * * * *

Always displaying a keen sense of humor, Cabell Senator Mike Woelfel greeted his fellow legislators to Huntington for interims on social media.

“West Virginia Legislature is meeting in my hometown,” he wrote. “We have not hosted characters like these since Jesse James and his boys robbed the Huntington Bank in 1875.”

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What a great sense of humor. Woelfel doesn’t take himself too seriously and that’s refreshing.

* * * * * *

Veteran legislator Everette “Bill” Anderson has pre-filed for re-election to the House of Delegates. He’s a Wood County Republican from 

Williamstown with decades of knowledge and service.

For those wondering how we get “Bill” out of “Everette,” his middle name is “William.”

He looks more like a “Bill” than an “Everette.”

* * * * * *

One has to hand it to Derrick Evans, former one-day wonder as a member of the state House of Delegates.

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Evans, who clearly mishandled his participation in the January 6, 2021 rally at the national capitol, is trying to keep his congressional campaign light-hearted.

While I give him a nod for trying, the transsexual community should not be the butt of sarcastic jokes.

Try heading for higher ground, Delegate Evans.

* * * * * * *

While it’s conceded Evans has only two chances of beating Congresswoman Carol Miller in the May ’24 GOP primary (little and none), he needs to show potential voters of all stripes that he is serious about serving them.

Few real clowns are ever elected.

* * * * * *

More or less on the same subject, there’s no defense for WVWho Coach Bob Huggins’ homophobic remarks on a Cincinnati radio station.

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I wouldn’t be trying to defend Coach Dan D’antoni if he’d made similar comments. D’antoni’s too classy for that. So it is futile to attempt a defense of Huggins as some are doing.

He said it himself hours later; he offered no excuse.

The WVU athletic department had to evaluate the situation fairly and Huggins should truly regret what he said.

The announcement of serious penalties for his remarks is a step in the right direction. A million-dollar pay cut is significant but still not sufficient. Let’s see how Huggins handles the next few months.

* * * * * *

I called former Monongalia County Delegate Danielle  Walker in her new position as state executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union. She is also past Vice Chair of the state Democrat party.

I left the question, “Do you condemn Coach Huggins’ comments?”

She hasn’t returned my call.

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* * * * * *

While Woelfel’s recent legislative bank robber remark was in jest, many were surprised to learn that the James Gang did, in fact, rob the  Huntington National Bank in 1875.

A story in 1922 Wayne County News tells the full story. It can be found by doing an internet search.

James’ bandits escaped to Wayne County after the robbery.

It’s among many tales of pioneer life in Wayne County. The James “gang” was making their escape from Huntington toward Kentucky and they stopped over in the 

Town of Wayne (then called Trout’s Hill) and ate dinner with Aunt Lizzie Christian in the old house which formerly stood on the Northwest corner of Freizzells Square. 

While there, they talked with the citizens but not until the next day did the people of the town discover that they had entertained the noted Jesse James crew that was in those days well known in popular dime store novels. 

From Wayne, they went up Toms Creek to the Kentucky state line.

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It was Huntington’s first big robbery and the story as told by John H. Sanborn, D. I. Smith, who was sheriff at the time, and Gene Salmon, deputy clerk of the county court, reads more like one of the tales of Jesse and Frank James and his gang printed in one of those yellow backed dime novels.

That story can be found with an internet search, as I mentioned.

James and Cole Younger were made clean getaways but Miller and McDaniel had a skirmish with the Dillon boys who thought they were thieves. McDaniel was killed. 

The robbers first met in Wheeling with plans to rob a bank there. Then it was planned to rob a B & O train. Next, the gang went to Charleston by way of Point Pleasant but the Kanawha River blocked a speedy getaway there. The gang came to Huntington, staged the robbery, and made their escape on horseback.

Thanks to Senator Woelfel for reminding us of the story.

History buffs will enjoy reading it anew.

* * * * * *

The gloves came off quickly in the Republican Primary to replace gubernatorial candidate Patrick Morrisey as Attorney General.

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Former U.S. Attorney – now State Senator – Mike Stuart of Kanawha County urged voters to look past campaign rhetoric.

Although he named no names, it was clear that Stuart was suggesting that opponent State Senator Ryan Weld of Brooke County is a RINO.

“When you look at folks who may run against me in this campaign when they tell you they are conservative you need to look at their records,” Stuart said. “If their voting record is RINO, then they’re a RINO and it’s time we start paying attention to those things.”

Weld is not nearly as right-wing as Stuart. The Northern Panhandle representative is viewed as a moderate Republican.

Stuart is outspoken and aggressive. He’ll attack opponents with gusto. Some have labeled him a “political street fighter.”

Contact Ron Gregory at 304-533-5185; ron.gregory@wvstatewide.com or PO Box 20297, Charleston, WV 25362. Confidentiality is guaranteed if requested.

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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.