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Gregory’s Web – September 24, 2023

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Ron Gregory political columnist

One of the developments I can see happening in the 2024 Republican primary is “slates” of candidates.

Before anyone gets excited and thinks I’m predicting a return to those grand old days of  “a dollar and a swaller” in exchange for a vote, calm down.

The “dollar/swaller” description identified voters who would “sell” their votes for money (a “dollar” at least) and a half-pint of liquor (the “swaller” – or “swallow” to city slickers).

It was always fascinating in those days when law enforcement and supposedly squeaky-clean public officials railed against vote-buying. At that time, state-operated liquor stores would lay in a nice supply of half-pints that they didn’t normally sell.

The hypocrisy was obvious. It was illegal to buy votes but the state ABC stores only stocked the tiny bottles at election time to supply the “need.”

Years ago, the word “slate” earned a bad reputation. That was mainly because candidates would pay good money to “get on the John Doe slate.”

Doe, of course, was known to candidates as one of the ward healers who would have a slate printed with his choices in various races.

A potential voter would be visited by Doe or one of his lieutenants before the election. Doe’s slate would be filled with the candidates who had “bought” their way onto it.

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Often, a bargain then would be struck by Doe with some voters. They agreed to support Doe’s “slate of candidates” in exchange for the aforementioned “dollar and swaller.”

That’s how old-time slates were handled. In modern times, such shenanigans wouldn’t be tolerated.

So today, the term “slate” simply means one or more candidates have agreed to hitch their campaigns together.

There are several arguments in favor of forming slates.

For one thing, three candidates handing voters their slates and other materials door-to-door can visit three times as many voters as one can. 

The biggest downside to riding a slate is that it violates the cardinal rule that says one should never mix two or more campaigns.

An example of the latter comes when my favorite candidate for State Auditor, Jefferson County Commissioner Tricia Jackson, posts on social media that she’s endorsed by my supreme political enemy, former Delegate S. Marshall Wilson.

Marshall Wilson

In reality, I responded to Jackson’s announcement of the Wilson endorsement by posting that Wilson’s support might have cost her my vote.

The fact is it will not cost her my cheerleading. However, there are some Wilson enemies who will not be as understanding as I am. If I wasn’t as knowledgeable of Jackson’s stands for patriotic principles and transparency in government, I might not have been inclined to boost her knowing Wilson was in her corner. 

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It’s not just me who finds Wilson less than tolerable. Try visiting the legislature and suggesting Wilson as Man of the Year. You would likely regret the suggestion.

What a slate, or endorsement in another race can do is end up costing two or more listed candidates votes. It seldom gains any, in my view.

That’s one reason I’ve generally avoided the listing of names as sponsors of fundraisers in campaigns I managed.

My theory is that for every contribution having Senator John Doe listed as a sponsor gets the candidate, it costs one or more from those who literally can’t stand that sponsor.

Thus, I am a bit surprised that the acknowledged leader for the GOP Governor nomination, Kanawha County Delegate Moore Capito, is running ads supporting current Governor Jim Justice for the United States Senate in 2024.

Surrounded as Capito is by the finest political consultant minds in the state or probably the nation, I’m confident Capito’s endorsement will somehow benefit both him and Justice.

I salute consultants Larry Puccio and Kent Gates as the best campaign advisors anywhere. They are among those advising Capito.

The melding of the Justice and Capito campaigns is the beginning formation of a slate. One could also call them a “team.”

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I can’t wait to see how this endorsement proves beneficial to both candidates. I expect to learn something.


One of the groups expected to flex its political muscles in 2024 is the fringe right-wing Freedom Caucus.

Tom Willis

One candidate already publicizing support from the group is Tom Willis, running for State Senate in the 15th District.

That’s the district currently served by Senate President and Lieutenant Governor Craig Blair.

The Senate President has been involved in some close calls in the past, so this will be a race to watch.

Craig Blair

Being in leadership positions can be both beneficial and detrimental when elections roll around.

Blair is viewed as not being sufficiently conservative by some of his cracked-nut colleagues. Their idea of the middle of the road is to be stuck firmly between the right berm and the sky-high weeds just beyond.

This group of Blair doubters includes both voters and legislators. For example, they (and I) think the Senator should have spoken against all the mandates unilaterally handed down by Justice during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The lockdown of the capitol building itself may not have much effect on voters in Blair’s district. Their distance from Charleston means they were never as accustomed to visiting the legislature in session as citizens from places like Kanawha or even Braxton County.

Frankly, Willis’ candidacy could actually be helpful to Blair. 

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You see, former Delegate Michael Folk announced he intends to campaign for the same seat on the Tom Roten Morning Show last week. Like the two others, he’s a Republican.

That means those casting votes against Blair in the primary may split their ballots between Willis and Folk.

That could end up giving Blair a plurality of the vote and, thus, the nomination. Any of the three Republicans will then be favored in November.


There are strict constitutional adherents who are still unhappy that the 2020 primary election was arbitrarily moved from May to June, allegedly because of Covid.

The constitution clearly spells out that the primary is to be held in May, not June. The rallying cry from many constitutionalists has been, “The constitution doesn’t say the primary will be held the second Tuesday in May unless there’s a pandemic.”

No West Virginia official actually claimed credit or blame for the changed date. It was another case where the Republican-dominated legislature did nothing to challenge the date movement, either.

If constitutional voters decide to actually hold someone responsible for ignoring the correct date, it could be bad news for whomever they blame.

The list of potential culprits includes Governor Justice, Secretary of State Mac Warner, the legislature, and county clerks statewide.

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My guess is that the issue is pretty much forgotten or at least on the back burner now.


Democrat Christy Cardwell, campaigning for a District Nine State Senate seat, has a fundraiser planned.

Christy Cardwell

Those interested can meet the candidate from 6 to 7 p.m., Tuesday, October 10, at The Rusted Musket in Mullens.

She’s running for the seat now held by Republican David Stover.

I just had to get that venue (The Rusted Musket) worked into this column. Reminds me how Democrats loved it when President Trump used the “p” word; giving them an opportunity to say how appalled they were as they repeated his comments over and over and ….


In our “Delusions are a Many Splendored Thing” Department, someone actually posted this on Facebook:

“Biden is the One Making America Truly Great Again.”

The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum is calling. And Highland Hospital is open 24/7 for a reason.


There may be some excitement coming in Kanawha County’s judicial races in 2024.

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As I reported earlier, newly-appointed Judge Stephanie Abraham has pre-filed for one of the Eighth Circuit seats.

Also filing there is incumbent Maryclaire Akers, Ashley Deem, former State Senator Richard Lindsay, and incumbents Kevin Matthew Baker and Kenneth Ballard.


They’re calling it “The Dinner of the Decade.”

The Greenbrier County GOP is presenting its “Say No To Joe Dinner” featuring two special guests: Sheriff David Clarke, known fondly as “America’s Sheriff,” and Republican star Kimberly Klacik. 

Greenbrier Republicans may be wanting to say “no” to two “Joes:” Biden and Manchin.

Klacik, who ran for Congress in a Baltimore district that has never elected a Republican, famously walked the deteriorated neighborhoods and won nationwide attention for her brutally honest commercials.

The sold-out dinner will be held at 6:30 p.m., October 5, at the Lewisburg Quality Inn located at 178 Coleman Drive.

Associate Members can attend the Meet and Greet prior to the dinner. Tickets are $60 or $50 for Associate Members.

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To purchase VIP tickets in advance, contact the Greenbrier GOP Executive Committee at https://www.greenbriergop.com/dinner.


Other fascinating races are setting up for next year, according to announcements and pre-filings. Here is a rundown of some key races now with more to come next week.

Republican Michael Amos is running in the 27th House District for the Kenova seat now held by Democrat Ric Griffith. That is shaping up to be an entertaining contest since Wayne County Republican Chair Jeff Maynard lost by only 59 votes to Griffith in 2022 and says he’s running again. Griffith has thus far been able to swim against the GOP tidal wave in West Virginia politics. We may see if he can continue.

Republican Chris Anders from Martinsburg has pre-filed in House District 97.  He’s the Mid-Atlantic Director of Young Americans for Freedom. The incumbent there is Republican John Hardy, who pre-filed for an undetermined office.

Republican Andrew Anderson has pre-filed in House District 56. That sets up a potential rematch with Democrat Kayla Young who beat him by just 58 votes in 2022. Young famously pledged to move her residence to a district more favorable to her re-election after the 2022 redistricting.

Longtime Republican Delegate Everette “Bill” Anderson of Williamstown has pre-filed in House District 10. Republican Daphnie Andrews of Charles Town pre-filed in District 99. That’s where the GOP incumbent Wayne Clark has also filed.

Amanda Beach-Burge, a Huntington Democrat, has filed for the 23rd District House seat now held by Republican Evan Worrell.

Republican Jonathan Board of Fairmont is running for State Senate in District 13. That’s the seat held by Democrat Mike Caputo, who has said he is not seeking re-election.

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Republican Renick Booth of Wayne has pre-filed for Senate District 5. Republicans Jason Stephens, Scott Fuller, and Joshua Mathis have also pre-filed.  Incumbent Democrat Bob Plymale has told friends he’s not running again.

Incumbent Republican Delegate Eric Brooks of Mount Hope is running in District 45.

The GOP’s Ryan O’Neal Browning from Kenova has pre-filed in House District 28. Republican Mark Ross is the incumbent.

Former Delegate Ray Canterbury, a Republican from Ronceverte, has pre-filed in 47. The incumbent is Republican Todd Longanacre.

Republican Kanawha County Delegate Capito is running for Governor. That opens his seat in District 55. Donald Carter Jr., a South Charleston Republican, has pre-filed for the spot.

Republican Thomas C. Clark of Webster Springs has announced for the 48th House District. The current representative is Republican Auditor candidate Caleb Hanna.

Democrat Gabriel Covington of Mount Hope is a candidate in House District 45. Republican Eric Brooks is the incumbent.

Republican incumbent Delegate Vernon Criss from Parkersburg is seeking re-election in District 12.

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Jesse Lovejoy of Red House, a Republican, has pre-filed for House 19. The incumbent is far right, former Hooters girl, Kathie Hess Crouse. Crouse, of Buffalo, is running again.

Republican Jon Dodds of Fairmont’s District 76 is challenging incumbent Democrat Joey Garcia. The Delegate won a similar race last time by 417 votes.

Whispers at the capitol suggest Putnam Republican Delegate Geoff Foster will not run for re-election in 20. Rumors persist throughout Putnam County that his home is sitting empty and he plans to relocate to Tennessee. There, Sarah Drennan, a Winfield Republican, has pre-filed. Jacob Losh has indicated his intent to run. He is the current Putnam Republican Club Chair and came very close to unseating Foster in the last election.

GOP Delegate Joe Ellington from Princeton is running again in District 38.

State Senate District 16 promises to be a titanic struggle in the Republican primary. Incumbent Patricia Rucker and Delegate Paul Espinosa have both pre-filed.

Republican Trey Ewing of White Sulphur Springs is running in House District 46. There, the second appointed replacement, incumbent Delegate Jeff Campbell, is said to be seeking the seat as well. He is a Republican.

Alderson’s Jonathon Fain is running as a Republican in House District 40.  The incumbent is Republican Roy Cooper.

Republican Delegate Dana Ferrell of Sissonville is running for re-election in District 60.

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In Senate District 8, Republican Jerry Forren of Cross Lanes has pre-filed. The incumbent is Republican Glenn Jeffries.

Democrat Randall Fowler of Bluefield has pre-filed in Senate District Six.  The incumbent Republican, Chandler Swope, a Bluefield Republican, is seeking re-election.

Another Republican,  Republican Barbara Fuller of Kearneysville will seek to fill Espinosa’s 98th District House seat.

Incumbent Republican Heather Glasko-Tully from Summersville is bidding for re-election in House District 49.

Republican Senator Amy Nicole Grady of Mason County is after re-election in the Fourth District. She’s the no-fear Senator who unseated then-Senate President Mitch Carmichael in 2020.

Fred Guidi, a Grafton Republican, has pre-filed in House District 73. The current officeholder is the GOP’s Amy Summers.

The appointed incumbent, Democrat Anitra Hamilton, has pre-filed in House District 81.

Democrat incumbent Evan Hansen of Morgantown is running for re-election in District 79.

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House Speaker Roger Hanshaw, a Wallback Republican, is seeking re-election in House District 62.

Republican Toby Heany from Fairview is running in House District 76. Democrat Joey Garcia is the incumbent.

In House District 13, the incumbent, Republican Scot Heckert of Parkersburg, wants to be re-elected. 

Brian Helton pre-filed as a Republican in Senate District Nine. He’s from Mount Hope. The current senator is Republican David Stover.

Delegate Rick Hillenbrand, a Romney Republican, wants re-election in House District 88.

Republican Delegate Gary Howell of Keyser has pre-filed in District 87.

Former Kanawha County GOP Chair Tresa Howell of Winifrede has pre-filed in House District 52. There, rumors are that long-serving Democrat Larry Rowe will not try for another term.

Republican incumbent Glenn Jeffries has pre-filed in Senate District Eight.

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Warren Dean Jeffries of Elkview, the Republican incumbent, is seeking re-election in House District 61.

Republican Senator Robert Karnes of Helvetia wants re-election in District 11. He is a maverick who is very conservative and his spats with Senate President Craig Blair have become legendary. There’s little doubt Blair would like to see Karnes replaced. At this point, Robert Morris, Jr. of Elkins is Karnes’ GOP opponent.

The 44th District Republican Delegate Todd Kirby of Beckley wants re-elected. 

There will be a tough GOP primary fight for House seat 94. It’s a solidly conservative Republican District. Falling Waters is home to both James Klein, the challenger, and incumbent Larry Kump.

Maybe, just maybe we’ll complete the list next time.

Contact Ron Gregory at 304-533-5185 or ron.gregory@wvstatewide.com

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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.

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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.