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Editorial

Gregory’s Web – June 17, 2023

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Ron Gregory political columnist

Anyone who thought the United States Senate Republican primary between Governor Jim Justice and Congressman Alex Mooney would be a classy, gentle process, found out they were wrong when the first commercials of the 2024 cycle showed up.

At the beginning of May, the Club for Growth released a TV ad attacking Justice on personal financial issues. It is appropriately titled, “Deadbeat.” 

The Club for Growth has announced it will spend millions supporting Mooney in the race.

The ad centers on reports of Justice’s financial issues involving him and his companies.

It also mentions Forbes Magazine’s rating of the Governor going down from billionaire to millionaire status.

To say any ad called “Deadbeat” is negative advertising probably is not necessary to explain.

Justice has been nagged, following his entry into politics, with stories of not paying his bills, including governmental taxes and fees.

To date, those stories, even when lawsuits are filed, do not appear to affect his popularity with voters.

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Opponents, including 2020 Democrat nominee Ben Salango, have hammered Justice about his debts to no avail. 

It also seems to matter little to voters that Justice was a Democrat when elected in 2016. He soon switched to Republican and never appeared to miss a beat with the electorate.

When Justice first became a Republican much was made of an apparent purge of highly-visible Democrats from his administration.  Many Democrats remained in place and Republicans lived with it.

It has been said that the Governor leads a politically charmed life.

Conservative Political Action Committees have pledged to spend up to $15 million to beat Justice with Mooney.

The record shows that if they’re going to spend a year beating on Justice as a “deadbeat” and 

“RINO (Republican in Name Only),” they might as well move on to a different race in another state.

Mooney has to know that. Let’s see what he and the PACs come up with beside “deadbeat’ and ‘RINO.”

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Those not familiar with presidential politics often say that Democrat President Joe Biden will defeat Republican former President Donald Trump in 2024.

They cite public opinion polls as “proof” of their point. 

Despite the fact that I repeatedly tell readers I have no confidence in any poll but Rasmussen Reports, I do find the Five Thirty Eight surveys and analysis interesting. I think it leans toward Democrats but it has been quite accurate in congressional races.

A FiveThirtyEight study shows Biden is less popular following 874 days in the White House than all other post-war U.S. presidents, with the sole exception of Democrat Jimmy Carter. 

Don’t forget that Carter went on to face a landslide defeat at the hands of Republican Ronald Reagan.

Just 41 percent of voters approve of Biden’s performance at this 874-day stage in the electoral cycle, versus 42.3 percent for President Trump, 47.4 percent for Barack Obama, and 61.5 for George W. Bush. Carter was significantly less popular than any other president 874 days into his administration, with an approval rating of just 28.8 percent.

It’s interesting to consider that Bush and Obama were re-elected. Even polling a percent better than Biden, Trump did not gain re-election.

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Given that FiveThirtyEight would definitely not shade things in Trump’s favor, I think illustrates that Biden is in big trouble. I expect Trump to beat him.

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Chase Linko-Looper formally announced his 

Mountain Party candidacy for Governor on Saturday, June 17.

The virtual announcement was shared over social media and with the press.

A press conference via 

Zoom is planned for Wednesday, June 28.

Linko-Looper is an activist and a disabled combat veteran who served over nine years in the U.S. Army with a tour in Afghanistan.

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The candidate is a human rights advocate.

He pledges to fight for the disabled, ethnic and racial minorities, the LGBTQ+ community, the poor, seniors, veterans, women “and any other people facing discrimination and persecution.”

If elected, Linko-Looper would be the youngest Governor in West Virginia’s history, to be sworn in at the age of 30.

Previously, the youngest Governor was Republican Cecil Underwood when he took office in 1957. He was also the oldest when his second term ended in 2001.

* * * * * *

Derrick Evans, challenging Congresswoman Carol Miller in the 2024 GOP Primary, recently revealed the “biggest complaint I hear  – and have personally – with the Hatfield-McCoy Trails.”

Unlike some detractors, Evans continued, *it isn’t people wanting to drink; it isn’t having to wear a helmet/boots etc.”

He then identified it. “The biggest complaint is that it is not family-friendly. You cannot take children on the trails as you are not allowed to have car seats in your SXS. 

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“We ride all the time as a family – not just my kids – but all of their cousins too. We are talking about a dozen kids getting outside, playing in the creeks with their cousins, and making lifelong memories,” Evans said.

He concluded, “We can’t do that with the Hatfield-McCoy Trail system. That is the number one reason people don’t want the trails to come through and take over our existing trails. Go make your own trails if you want, but leave us the heck alone.”

Evans makes an excellent point. It’s one I have heard many times myself. And the folks making the point are not opposed to the Hatfield-McCoy Trails in general. They understand the economic impact it has had.

Still, there are trails throughout southern West Virginia that were developed and used by private citizens.

Evans and others realize the H-M Trails must have stricter guidelines and regulations than two or three families need to observe on a private trail.

Evans’ fear is that if H-M Trails acquire what has traditionally been “private” trails, his children will not even be permitted there.

The H-M Trails are a godsend to the economically depressed areas of the state. But some private trails must remain for those who are enjoying their availability.

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Speaking of the pros and cons of economic development, it’s interesting to note that Wallethub lists West Virginia as last or 48th among states to locate a new business.

The Justice administration, as well as the supermajority Republican legislature, like to tout how they’ve “turned the state around,” business-wise. WalletHub must have missed the turnoff.

This reminds me that the media picks right up on Justice’s brags and goes into a frenzy every time he announces the latest “creation of new jobs.”

I’ll agree that new jobs are great but if Plant A announces it’s coming to town with 400 new jobs and Plant B proclaims 500 layoffs, that’s a net loss, not a gain.

We generally only hear about the plusses. Little attention is given to how many jobs are available in May 2023 compared to May 2015 or 20 or 22.

That’s information that should be readily available to the public. It should be calculated and circulated by the media once a month.

* * * * * *

I’m wondering if there’s any media outlet that would provide that info to the public?

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Former West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Warren McGraw spent five decades in public service. He passed away at age 84 last week. 

The Charleston Gazette-Mail’s story of his passing began, “Renowned former West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Warren McGraw has died.”

And renowned and even revered in liberal, pro-union quarters tells some of McGraw’s legacy.

But he was complex and, I think, a genuinely good man whose philosophy was certainly different than mine.

A lifelong member of the Democratic Party, McGraw was a two-term member of the state House of Delegates and served three terms in the Senate. There, he was elected president twice.

McGraw was perhaps best known for his role as chief justice of the Supreme Court, serving for six years from 1999 to 2004. He later served as a judge in the 27th Judicial Circuit, which covered his beloved Wyoming County.

Two years ago, McGraw retired from the bench, citing in his resignation letter physical impairments due to Parkinson’s Disease that prevented him from fulfilling his duties.

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He was the brother of former Attorney General Darrell McGraw.

State Democrat Chair and Kanawha County Delegate Mike Pushkin summed up the feelings of thousands.

Pushkin said, “Warren McGraw gave his life to public service and to serving the people of West Virginia. As a legislator, senate president, supreme court justice, circuit judge, prosecutor, and local school board member, Warren McGraw was a tireless advocate for working people and those who are too often left behind.”

He went on, “Warren McGraw never forgot that a society is measured by how it treats its weakest members. From the school board to the legislature, to the halls of the supreme court, he fought with every ounce of his ability to improve the lives of the poor and those struggling to make a better life for themselves and for their families.”

Pushkin concluded, “His was truly a life well lived, and because of his efforts, countless West Virginia lives were made better by his many contributions to our state.”

This time, I agree with Chair Pushkin.

* * * * * *

The Second Amendment Coalition has scheduled an “awesome 2A event” for 2 pm, June 21, according to an invitation. 

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It will take place at Flat Top Arms, 701 South Eisenhower Drive in Beckley. 

There will be a concealed carry demonstration with Republican Delegate Kathie Hess Crouse. Secretary of State Mac Warner will be present to accept a statewide Second Amendment endorsement in his race for Governor.

* * * * * *

I did have an enjoyable chat with former Democrat State Treasurer John Perdue last week.

Like his supporter when I asked if he had given any thought to trying to return to his old office next year, he chuckled too.

But, unlike the supporter, he stopped short of closing the door on the idea.

“Tell your readers I’d like to hear what they think about it,” he said.

The office is being vacated after one term by Republican Riley Moore, who is running for the U.S. House in 2024.

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So here’s a chance for input. Call Perdue and tell him what you think.

* * * * * *

As usual, State School Board President Paul Hardesty is correct in his handling of the Upshur County Schools situation.

I have long been a Hardesty admirer from his earliest days as a Logan School Board member and Logan County Administrator.

With Hardesty, what you see is what you get and he won’t mince words telling you where he stands.

David Roach is a skilled administrator who I covered as Superintendent of Lincoln County Schools.

Roach will retire from his position as state superintendent, according to officials. The news came the day the state Board, led by Hardesty, voted to take over the Upshur County school system. That followed an investigation into improper spending of federal funding.

Hardesty was particularly perturbed that Roach did not inform the board of the problems in a timely manner. A federal investigation is underway in relation to the allegations.

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Knowing Roach, I doubt that he thought it was necessary to inform the board. When he learned of the situation, he took steps to address it. I’d say he thought that was sufficient.

He found out pretty quickly from Hardesty that it was not enough.

The board President pulled Logan Schools out of severe problems at least twice while he was on that local board. Now he’s doing the same thing for the state.

The citizens of West Virginia are fortunate to have Paul Hardesty.

Contact Ron Gregory at 304-533-5185; ron.gregory@wvstatewide.com; or PO Box 20297, Charleston, WV 25362. Anonymity guarantee

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    From the WV Statewide News Team. Articles depicting “Staff Writer” indicate the content was prepared by several members of the news team. View all posts

From the WV Statewide News Team. Articles depicting "Staff Writer" indicate the content was prepared by several members of the news team.