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Gregory’s Web – October 1, 2023

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Ron Gregory political columnist
Melody Potter

Former State Republican Chair Melody Potter has apparently figured out what we’ve been discussing here for months.

To sum it up, some folks just can’t stand prosperity.

In this case, it’s that Grand Old Republican party that toiled as an often tiny minority but is now basking in the light of super-majorities that caught Potter’s attention.

In fact, the ex-Chair took to social media last week to offer a message to the group she once led.

“Hey fellow Republicans,” she wrote. “Keep up the infighting and the opposition is going to take over again.”

The last time that happened, Democrats ruled the state for 80-plus years.

While I can’t disagree since Potter has reached the same conclusion I have, I can offer a profound comment or two.

Where, I wonder, was Potter’s aversion to infighting when she decided, as state Chair, to unilaterally and arbitrarily oust elected Wood County Chair Rob Cornelius?

While Wood has been solidly Republican much longer than most other counties in the state, the wounds of that “infighting” are still apparent.

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Potter’s action left Parkersburg area Republicans with a  pro-Cornelius faction and an anti-one. That surely was not her intention.

On the other hand, I have said that some intra-party fighting can be beneficial. That happens when minor disagreements eventually lead to united consensus. 

Most recent spats have not helped the common cause, however.

I doubt if the squabbles of the state Federation of Republican Women have improved the party’s ballot chances, for example.

GOP primary candidates who attack their incumbent opponents for being RINO (Republican in Name Only), are doing the overall party no good.


I suppose it’s still necessary for me to preface all comments about the Moores and Capitos with the caveat that I am forever a Moore Republican. The late Governor Arch A. Moore, Jr. was simply the best.

Because of that, it’s likely that I don’t judge either family’s candidates as harshly as I do others.

In yet another diversion from party unity last week, some Republicans were publicly calling for the removal of current party State Chair Elgine McArdle.

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Elgine McArdle

Among other complaints, these unhappy Republicans were incensed by an invitation for an October 5 reception.

Dubbed the “2024 Victory in Unity Tour,” the invite said “Join local grassroots conservatives, candidates, elected officials” and McArdle at 6 p.m. at Nikki’s Garden Center in Wheeling.

From the reaction of several social media commentators, the event is doing little to promote “unity.”

The purpose of the get-together, the invitation says, is to “discuss the upcoming election and the blueprint to win races from the Courthouse to the White House.”

I doubt that calling one’s opponent a RINO is one winning element that will be promoted.

Serving as “host” of the event requires a $1,000 donation, presumably to the State GOP. To be an “organizer” one must pitch in $500 and an “attendee” needs to cough up $100.

Obviously, the cash-strapped state party hopes to raise significant money very quickly.

So what could possibly be a Republican’s beef with this noble cause?

Let me enlighten you.

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At the bottom of the sheet, it’s noted that State Treasurer Riley Moore will be the “special guest.”

Now, Moore is definitely a Republican, he is the elected State Treasurer. He is the grandson of the revered late Governor and nephew of United States Senator Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia.

What, you ask, is the opposition to Moore being the honored guest? What other statewide elected official with his pedigree could Republicans hope to get for nothing?

Moore, who’s running for the Congressional seats being vacated in 2024 by ultra-conservative Alex Mooney, has token primary opposition. He polls between 70 and 80 percent in that race.

Ah. But the problem, according to some social media posts, is that Moore is one of the aforementioned RINOs. 

These far right wing nuts call Moore a “Never Trumper.” Without a grain of evidence, these “brains” of the GOP rip Moore because he’s not crazy enough to suit them.

Let me say this: if it was possible to resurrect his ballots, I’d bet all my assets that Moore voted twice for President Donald Trump.

Do these dingalings really believe he voted for Hillary Clinton and/or Joe Biden? No way, Jose. 

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These petty philosophical squabbles will never help the party.

Those protesting Moore seem to forget that he’s been elected to the House of Delegates and now is the elected State Treasurer.

Most of their favorite candidates have never been elected, even as secretaries of the local PTAs.

In order to facilitate meaningful change in government, one has to first be elected. The current rightward leaning of the state GOP may well be too much for actual moderate voters to take. After all, being too leftist has dropped the state Democrats to the minority.

Former Chair Potter is dispensing good advice. It is not likely to be followed, however.


Chuck Romine

Sadness was felt throughout the land last week with the passing of former Cabell County Republican Delegate Charles Everett (Chuck) Romine Jr.

Romine passed away last Sunday at Cabell Huntington Hospital.

At 87, Romine’s beloved wife, Phyllis, originally from Lincoln County, had passed only 19 days earlier.

Serving in the legislature for parts of five decades, the former Delegate was universally admired for his wisdom and devotion to the art of compromise and philanthropy during his public service career.

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He mentored young legislators, regardless of party, and was also well known for the insurance agency he established and ran for 40 years.

If more legislators were as public-spirited as Romine, the state would be a better place.

Rest in peace, Delegate Romine. Your devotion to duty and compassion for others will forever be your legacy.


Joana Tabit

Compounding the heavy hearts was word Friday evening that Kanawha County Circuit Judge Joanna Tabit had passed.

Tabit was a current circuit and former Supreme Court candidate.

Tabit fought a valiant health battle for quite some time.

Sincere condolences to her family and loved ones.


Some of West Virginia’s most exquisite jewels are found in the hills and hollows near mountain folk music.

There have been few performers who kept this music alive more effectively than Virginia Myrtle Ellis Wilson of Logan.

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Known fondly to thousands of fans, “Aunt Jennie” (or “Aunt Jenny” as she sometimes spelled it) was a Mountain State treasure as a banjo player, singer and storyteller. 

Jenny Wilson

Her recordings can still be found where authentic mountain music is played. 

Often, she was accompanied by her grandson, present-day Logan Emergency Ambulance Service Authority Executive Director and loyal reader Roger Bryant. He’s a talented musician in his own right.

I divert from politics occasionally here since mountain music and politics often go hand-in-hand in West Virginia.

Today’s mixture is to let readers know of a planned unveiling dedication ceremony and reception. It will be in Aunt Jennie’s honor coming up at noon, October 12, at Chief Logan State Park.

The Logan County Chamber of Commerce is inviting the public to attend. The unveiling will be of a new Legends & Lore marker in her honor. It was made possible by the William G. Pomeroy Foundation.

Those planning to attend should RSVP at 304-752-1324.


On the subject of Aunt Jennie, she was born on Little Buffalo Creek at Henlawson in Logan County on February 9, 1900. 

She was the daughter of Hugh Bryant “Doc” Ellis and Cinderella Lockhard Ellis. Aunt Jennie and her family lived on their farm until some time after 1910.

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In 1918, she married James Dewey Wilson. He had been working as a miner at Hughey in Logan County. By 1930, he and Jenny had four children and he was a coal mine electrician at Sharples. 

On August 9, 1939, James Wilson was injured in a slate fall at a mine on Peach Creek. He died from those injuries on November 2 of that year, at the age of 41. James is buried in the Mitchell Cemetery at Henlawson.

Jennie remained near Peach Creek, on Crooked Creek, until her death on March 2, 1992. 

She performed at the Mountain State Art and Craft Fair at Ripley, at the West Virginia State Folk Festival in Glenville and at the Vandalia Gathering in Charleston nearly every summer.

Aunt Jennie was a recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the West Virginia Department of Culture and History and the 1984 Vandalia Award.


Last week, we began a district-by-district look at potential legislative races throughout the state. We’ll try to finish up here for the time being.

So, let’s go first to the 53rd Delegate District. There, Republican representative Chris Pritt is running for Secretary of State, creating an open seat.

Fellow GOPer Tristan Leavitt has filed for Pritt’s Charleston House seat.

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GOP incumbent Delegate Patrick Lucas of Barboursville is after another term in House District 24.

Lucas defeated Democrat Ally Layman by just over 200 votes two years ago.

She is said to be considering another run in 2024 as well.

Now on Huntington City Council, Layman is a devoted volunteer and community activist. She would make a great legislator.

Republican incumbent Delegate Jordan Hill of Beaver wants another term in District 41.

In Kanawha’s Fifty-seventh House District, Democrat newspaper executive Doug Skaff resigned. He had been Minority Leader. The former Delegate has told some he expects to change his registration to Republican and might run for Secretary of State next year.

Skaff is one legislator who is ambitious and maybe Governor one day.

Aaron Neil, a South Charleston Republican, has pre-filed in 57.

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Republican Delegate William Ty Nestor of Elkins is seeking re-election in District 66.

House District 16 incumbent Republican Steve Westfall is leaving the legislature to run for Jackson County Commission.

Republican Frederick Parsons has pre-filed to replace Westfall. 

Clarksburg incumbent Republican Mickey  Petitto is after another term in the 70th House District.

Outspoken coal advocate and Republican Senator Rupert Phillips of District Seven is seeking another term.

“Rupie” is hard-working and very attentive to constituent needs.

Incumbent Delegate Clay Riley, a Shinnston Republican, wants another term in the House, 72nd District.

GOP incumbent Delegate Matthew Rohrbach of Huntington has pre-filed in the 26th. 

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Republican Chris Rose of Granville, a far-rightist, is after GOP Senator Mike Maroney’s Senate Two seat.  

Conservatives in the district are dissatisfied with Maroney, who was involved in controversy some time ago when his opponents apparently launched bogus legal charges against him.

Republican Dr. Heather Rosen-Turley of New Creek has pre-filed in House District 88.

Republican Mark Ross of Prichard is running in House District 28.

Now-perennial Democrat candidate Tina Russell from Princeton has pre-filed in House District 38.

That’s the position now held by Republican Joe Ellington.

Incumbent Republican Delegate Andy Shamblin is seeking another term in the 59th House District.

A pre-filer for the House Eighth District is Republican Dave Shelton of Sistersville. The incumbent is the GOP’s David Kelly.

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Stephen Snyder, an Alderson Republican, has pre-filed in the 47th House District.

Republican Todd Longanacre is the incumbent there.

Delegate Joe Statler, a Republican who lives at Core in Monongalia County, is going for re-election in House District 77.

Wayne’s Republican Jason Stephens is running in the Senate’s Fifth District for Democrat Bob Plymale’s position.

Joshua Mathis, a new Republican from Kenova, also wants to replace Senator Plymale.

Plymale has told friends he’s not running this time.

Republican Senator David “Bugs” Stover of Maben is a candidate for re-election in the Ninth District.

House District 83 Delegate George Street of Masontown is seeking re-election. He’s a Republican.

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In House District Seven, Democrat Devon Tennant of Proctor has pre-filed. The incumbent is Republican Charles Sheedy.

Republican House 89 incumbent, Darren Thorn of Romney wants to be re-elected.

Democrat Stephanie Tomana of Ida May is campaigning in House District 75. 

Phil Mallow, a Republican, is the current Delegate.

The House District 35 seat is the target of Republican William Vance of Brenton.

The appointed incumbent is Republican Adam Vance.

Chance Walker of Marmet is another Republican contender in the 52nd House District. That’s where former Kanawha GOP Chair Tressa Howell is also running.

The incumbent is Democrat Larry Rowe.

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Incumbent 86th District Delegate Bryan Ward is on the campaign trail. He’s a Republican from Fisher.

Republican Delegate Debbie Warner of Morgantown’s 82nd District, has pre-filed. She has since said she will not seek re-election. Instead, she will help her husband, Secretary of State Mac Warner, in his 2024 Governor campaign.

The Democrat incumbent Delegate John Williams of Morgantown will run again in District 80.

James Willis of Bethany, the Republican incumbent, will seek re-election in House District Three.

The appointed incumbent, Diana Winzenreid of Wheeling has pre-filed as a Republican in House District Four. 

Incumbent Republican Senator Jack Woodrum of Hinton is after re-election in the Tenth District.

The Democrat incumbent, Delegate Kayla Young of South Charleston, is seeking another term in District 56.

Whew!

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On the subject of interesting races, incumbent Republican Cabell County Commissioner Kelli Sobonya has pre-filed for another term.

Kelli Sobonya

A recent filing by Jan Hite King, also a Republican, sets up what likely will be a tough contest in the GOP primary.

King lives at Salt Rock and is a well-known community activist.

Sobonya is a former House of Delegates member now serving her first term as a Commissioner.


Huntington, the Tri-state and West Virginia have, temporarily at least, lost a strong voice and advocate for traditional values.

Tom Roten

After more than 20 years, the Tom Roten Morning radio show is no longer a fixture on 800AM, WVHU.

The sad news came last Tuesday via a social media post from Roten. The sudden departure sparked a tidal wave of sympathetic reactions from many listeners.

It seems Roten’s political news and talk program became yet another victim of Bidenomics. The station’s ownership has been “downsizing” with many layoffs at their iHeart stations nationwide.

Most readers know that Roten and I grew up in Gilmer County and I was on his show each Monday to talk politics.

Roten’s father, Jim, was a well-known businessman, managing and eventually owning Glenville’s Community Supermarket.

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Jim Roten was as honest and devoted to Christian values as anyone I ever knew. His son did not fall far from that tree.

It will be interesting to see where the road takes Tom Roten on his next adventure. In the meantime, a major voice of common sense has been temporarily silenced.

Let us hope that the silence will be brief and the “Straight-shooter” will soon be back somewhere with his logical approach to the issues of the day.

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.

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