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Editorial

Gregory’s Web – September 10, 2023

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Ron Gregory political columnist

Do Democrats stand any chance of gaining ground in West Virginia politics 2024?  The answer is probably no, looking at the present tea leaves.

The only hope for Democrat recovery, in my humble but correct opinion, lies with the unlikely hope that Republicans will become so nasty in contested primary races that Democrats benefit from the GOP fallout.  Such disharmony could occur in any race but may be most likely in the Attorney General contest based upon what we’ve seen thus far.  That’s not to say there will not be fiery rhetoric in the United States Senate or Governor races. There well could be.

We know Governor Jim Justice and Congressman Alex Mooney, both of whom want to replace Democrat U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, really do not care much for each other.  I’ve pointed out that Mooney certainly knows how to run a negative campaign. Check his earlier efforts in Maryland for proof.  It could get down and dirty enough for Justice to fire verbal shots back at Mooney.  If that happens, it is quite often supporters rather than candidates who get most perturbed.

For example, if Mooney manages to offend 20% of Justice’s supporters, they may well vote for Manchin if Mooney is the GOP nominee.  On the other hand, voters who are disgruntled by name-calling politics may just stay home and not vote.  The Governor’s race is another position where enemies could be made quickly.

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey claims he’s the only “true conservative” running for Governor. That’s bound rebuttal from some other candidates.  Meanwhile, as I said, early indications tell me the AG contest is the most volatile right now.  In that race, we already have three major league candidates. One of them is currently making sparks fly.

Mike Stuart

The trio is made up of current State Auditor JB McCuskey, Brooke County State Senator Ryan Weld and Kanawha State Senator Mike Stuart.

The Kanawha Senator has started early taking verbal shots at his opponents on social media.

Stuart is and will be highlighting his record as a former U.S. Attorney, of course. It’s a record he can be justly proud of.  Still, if either of his two primary opponents expect Stuart to boast of his own record only, they will find out that’s not his style.

Their expectation should be for a hard-slamming, aggressive campaign from the Kanawha Senator.

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Stuart currently says in a social media post that he “was built” to be a U.S. Attorney. He adds that he was likewise “built to be Attorney General.”  He boasts about his record there as he was “spending every day” combating illicit drugs.

(One thing about Stuart, any favorable writers don’t need to spend too much space praising him; he’ll take care of that himself. That can actually be a good thing in politics).

Let’s pause to look at a bit of exactly what Stuart  has to say.

“I had a BIG (his emphasis) record as the United States Attorney. Every single day, I focused on knocking down doors and prosecuting drug dealers. During my term, we put HUNDREDS behind bars for selling poisons to our kids and assaulting our communities. 

“No one before and no one since ever took on the epidemic with the sense of urgency of my team,” he said.

See what I mean?

Other than possibly offending former U.S. Attorneys – some of whom were Republicans who battled drugs as well – what image does that statement paint?

To me, it pictures Stuart as the knight on his white horse leading a drug war. And, in fact, that is what Stuart did. He hates illicit drugs, no doubt about it.

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I, and most others,  do not question his list of achievements. His opponents should concede he has a sterling record.

Stuart is currently giving his opponents a light taste of what is to come as far as his aggressive campaign style is concerned.

A Labor Day social media post by Stuart identified four major conservative legislative bills he championed in a recent legislative session.

He compared his voting record on those four to Weld’s positions. Stuart said Weld voted “wrong” on three of them and “didn’t even show up to vote” on the fourth.

He called the Brooke Senator a RINO (Republican in Name Only) who is not conservative at all.

Stuart pointed out that he led the 2016 Trump campaign in West Virginia. He added that he was then Trump’s appointee as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District.

He also called Weld and the other challenger, McCuskey, “Never Trumpers.” 

It is a bit of a stretch since neither likely fits that description. I’d guess they both voted for Trump in 2016 and 2020. They’ll vote for him again in 2024 if he’s the Republican nominee.

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To emphasize his characterization, however, he featured a Photoshopped picture of McCuskey wearing a “Never Trump” badge. While it’s obvious the photo is make believe, the point is clear.

I will say this: there is clearly evidence that Stuart is a Trump man. On the other hand, I know of no proof that either McCuskey or Weld fit the definition of “Never Trumpers.”

They are certainly not as visibly committed to Trump as Stuart is.

Weld and McCuskey will quickly learn that Stuart plays to win. He says what he thinks – always.

Those two may wonder what hit them when the dust settles from this campaign.

Hurricane Mike is one tough opponent.

Many readers will disagree with my next observation but one should not become a journalist if his or her goal is to be nominated for the good guy award.

Although I disagree, I understand that I can be classified as a Huntington “outsider” since I don’t actually live there. 

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I think I have enough historic connections to claim the city as a “home” base but this is not the place nor time to argue that point. Nevertheless, I will.

Consider, if you will, that my favorite restaurant is Jim’s Steak and Spaghetti House; my favorite hot dog is Stewart’s; and my favorite list of mayors includes the late Bobby Nelson and Jean Dean as well as Kim Wolfe and Steve Williams.

Talk about non-partisan, that’s two Democrats and two Republicans.

I don’t need to repeat for anyone my love and dedication for the Marshall University Thundering Herd, my alma mater. It just happens to be in Huntington, as well.

So perhaps I see the world through green and white-colored glasses but my view of the city is still of a bright town with wide streets and endless possibilities.

Everyone should work diligently to take advantage of what the city has to offer.

The Ohio River location gives Huntington a leg up on other competition.

Let’s shine its bright light instead of dimming the glow with negativism.

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Jim’s Spaghetti
Erika Kolenich

When considering 2024, I urge readers to never forget Erika Kolenich if she runs for Governor as a Libertarian.

The Buckhannon attorney is bright and articulate. She would do well as the state’s first female chief executive.

I can happily cast a ballot for Kolenich if the major party fields offer no qualified, logical choice. 

Frankly, her views are more in line with mine than any of the big party candidates for Governor anyway.

I’ll be talking with her soon about her plans for next year.

“There is a solid foundation of respect and an unfortunate link to tragedy through the November 14, 1970, plane crash that killed all 75 people on board the Marshall team flight. 

“Marshall played a football game at ECU that day and departed from Kinston at 6:38 p.m. Amid fog and rain about a mile from Tri-State Airport in West Virginia, the plane struck a hillside and crashed. On the flight were not only Marshall players and coaches, but also medical personnel and university administrators and boosters.”

It’s impossible to be a Herd fan and not lose a stray tear at the thought of that disaster.

Last week, the Herd and ECU renewed their rivalry. Despite battling on the gridiron, ECU has always been a staunch Marshall friend.

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Even though WVWho won’t, ECU joins many otheOn the subject of the Marshall Thundering Herd, this past week’s matchup with East Carolina stirs up such remarkably sad but respectful memories.

What Marshall Son or Daughter can forget where he or she was when the news broke about the plane crash in November 1970?

The 75 killed that night were traveling home from a football game with ECU in Greenville, North Carolina. It’s the same locale where yesterday’s rivalry renewal was held.

I was in my grandfather’s living room watching WSAZ-TV when the story hit the news bulletin stage. 

A teenager, I could hardly comprehend the tragedy.

“The rivalry between East Carolina University and Marshall University is unlike any other in college football,” a North Carolina scribe recently explained.

No Herd fan will ever forget that tragic day. Neither will our friends in the sports world. East Carolina heads that list.

Marshall Memorial Fountain
Rex Repass

It must have been tough for pollster supreme Rex Repass to eat crow last week.

An internal error caused Repass’s MetroNews Poll to short Attorney General Patrick Morrisey four points in the survey.

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I’m sure my longtime friend, Repass was distraught at the error, which he rushed on-air to correct immediately.

In the great scheme of things, the corrected poll had Capito still in the lead – by five points instead of the original nine.

I will add this: I know Repass and his family well enough to know he would not intentionally mislead anyone. He tells the truth – always.

He acknowledged the error and moved on.

It’s fascinating that Morrisey still trails Capito despite doing much more campaigning at this point than the Kanawha Delegate.

It will likely be no contest when Capito and his mother, U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito, hit the campaign trail in earnest. 

I expect that will leave the New Jersey carpetbagger in the dust.

Berkeley County Delegate Eric Householder confirmed our earlier prediction that he’s joining a crowded GOP field for State Auditor next year.

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Householder’s entry is not good news for one of my favorites, Jefferson County Commissioner Tricia Jackson. She had already announced for Auditor from the Eastern Panhandle.

We’ve discussed here in the past how Eastern Panhandle residency helps in a statewide race. That naturally applies when just one from up there is running.

Now, however, with two Panhandle candidates in this contest, the advantage will be diluted. That likely moves the favorite to someone from the Kanawha. Valley.

The Eastern Panhandle candidates will divide what might have been a solid vote.

Eric Householder
Steve Westfall

There will be somebody new sitting in Jackson County Delegate Steve Westfall’s House seat in 2025.

The veteran Republican is running for the County Commission.

The tragic news of former Republican Putnam County State Senator Lisa Smith’s passing away in a South Carolina house fire is a shock to many of us.

At one time, a rising, articulate voice of GOP conservatism, Smith also served as a Delegate from Putnam County.

Another Republican who held membership when she was vastly outnumbered by Democrats in the legislature, Smith was outspoken in her views.

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Her biggest election victory was her upset win over iconic Democrat Senator Oshel Craigo in 2002.

A vibrant lady, full of energy and spunk, her life was snuffed out at the early age of 59 last week.

She was currently living in Gaffney, South Carolina. Two other occupañts of the home apparently survived.

Senator Lisa Smith was one of a kind. She has been and will be missed by many.

Lisa Smith

Word is there was a larger crowd but fewer candidates at this year’s annual United Mine Workers Labor Day Picnic at Racine.

The affair once again featured musical entertainment and the delicious flavor of Glen “Houn’dog” Adkins’ pork barbeque. 

Many think of this event as the kickoff to the campaign season.

Finally, Denise Henry Morrisey was back in the news this week.

The Attorney General’s wife can’t seem to avoid making enemies as she tries to dictate Republican party policy.

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Perhaps the couple should consider their living apart arrangements if Patrick Morrisey is elected Governor.

That way she might only make enemies for him in Greenbrier County.

Denise Henry Morrisey

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  • Staff Writer

    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.