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Editorial

Gregory’s Web – December 24, 2023

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It’s the famous Day Before ….

I wonder what “gifts” are already under the holiday tree? 

For one thing, Kanawha County Republican Delegate Moore Capito made his legislative seat an open contest for some aspiring politicians.

Capito, son of United States Senator Shelley Moore Capito, announced his resignation from the House of Delegates to concentrate on his 2024 campaign for Governor.

On the campaign trail lately, old political hands say they can sense the enthusiasm for Capito building.

That’s clearly good news for any candidate but it certainly is for one who I think already leads the field.

That’s in clear contrast to Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, who can surely feel his own once-vibrant gubernatorial campaign “slipping away.”

Patrick Morrisey

Morrisey has been out on the campaign trail for months now, slowly dropping from his perch as the favorite to lead state Republicans next year.

Those with keen hands on the pulse of the voters say the Attorney General may soon slide into third place, behind Capito and Secretary of State Mac Warner.

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One Charleston political consultant chuckled last week.

“If (Huntington Mayor) Steve Williams is the Democrat nominee running against Morrisey in the fall, the Mayor’s campaign slogan should simply be, ‘Why vote for me? Have you met my opponent?’”

The expert added, “Every time a West Virginian meets Morrisey, he loses another vote.”

Capito has a powerful and positive presence on the hustings. 

The popularity of his mother and iconic grandfather, former West Virginia Governor, the late Arch A. Moore, Jr., clearly bolster the Moore Capito campaign.

Resigning his House seat sends a positive message to voters that he is totally committed to being the state’s next Governor.

It should be a joyous Capito campaign heading to the holidays. His holiday card emphasizing his youth and family traditions was also very well done.


The sparkling Capito cards were a clear contrast with earlier Morrisey pieces. In at least two of those, the native New Jerseyite misspelled “Virginia.”

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It’s not that tough to spell – especially if one actually lives here.

Veteran poll watchers wonder aloud if Capito strategists can come up with a campaign song to match his grandfather’s 1968 rally call that is famous in its own right.

What voter, 50 years ago, did not at least hum the tune of “Arch Moore is Moving Through the State of West Virginia”?

Most could join in on “When Arch Moore is Governor, He’ll Move the State Along.”

Ah … those were the idays, my friends. We thought they’d never end.


If a public official is going to violate the law, he or she may as well do it early and often I guess.

Logan Republican Delegate Margitta Mazzocchi posted what I assume she felt was a clever social media photo of her poised beside a re-election sign this week.

Margitta Mazzochi

After noting that she is now celebrating spring early since Christmas now seems to come before Thanksgiving, she says she’s ready for election early.

Ignoring that questionable assertion, it’s clear her sign must be on or near public right-of-way and she’s standing on a public street campaigning beside it.

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It’s against the law to place signage or campaign on public property.

Mazzocchi may know as little about campaign laws as she does about the legislative district she allegedly represents.

* * * * * *

It was great running into former State Senator and now Glenville State University President Mark Manchin this week in Charleston.

We took a few minutes to reminisce and chuckle about past times with his sainted father, the late legislator, Secretary of State and State Treasurer A. James Manchin.

They broke the mold when “Jimmie” was put together.


Jefferson County Perspective’s Mark Everhart has awarded the social media group’s “solid conservative” seal of approval to 20 House of Delegates members.

Mark Everhart

Although the site details no criteria by which the “winners” were selected, few would dispute that those named are rock-solid conservative patriots.

The biggest question about the list is how some standout conservatives failed to make it. I’m confident there’s a good explanation. Mark Everhart does a good job putting the JCP together.

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Here’s the names and districts (in the same order as listed by JCP):

Adam Vance of District 35; Henry C. Dillon, District 29; Walter Hall, 36; Todd Longanacre, 47; Todd Kirby, 44; William Ridenour, 100; Jim Butler, 18; Brandon Steele, 42; Elias Coop-Gonzalez, 67; Eric Brooks, 45; Geoff Foster, 20; David Dean, 34; Mark Ross, 28; Laura Kimble, 29; Adam Burkhammer, 64; Patrick McGeehan, 1; Gino Chiarelli, 78; Brian Ward, 86; Carl Martin, 65; and Tom Fast, 51.

Our friends at JCP summarized the list by saying, “These are the Delegates that are really looking out for the people of West Virginia, the Delegates we need to support.”

Okay. That’s 20 of the 100 members. Factually, the post said the group was chosen based on a statistical analysis of 2023 voting records.

Voters in the districts listed should consider these legislators if you’re looking for real conservatives to support.


The judicial appointment of Cabell County Prosecutor Sean “Corky” Hammers may be on at least a temporary hold for the holidays. 

Sean “Corky” Hammers

I’m not sure anyone knows for certain whether a motion for a Writ of Mandamus or Prohibition filed by inmate Edward Jesse Dreyfuse has stopped forward movement on the selection of Hammers.

As a non-lawyer, it appears to me that the law says that the Writ motions take precedence above all other cases on the court docket.

Inasmuch as Dreyfuse filed his action with the state Supreme Court, it seems it would stop any proceedings, other than rulings on Hammers’ case, from taking place.

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Of course, with the upcoming holidays near, there has been little likelihood of many decisions being made by the courts anyway.

For those who haven’t followed our coverage of the Dreyfuse case, he was convicted of first degree murder in Huntington more than a decade ago.

His subsequent battle to clear his name has been epic.

To say that Dreyfuse, a non-lawyer like me, has won more legal victories in the Supreme Court than most state attorneys ever argue is demonstrable.

He cites West Virginia Code 51-3-18 for his current proceedings. He raises the question of whether Hammers is qualified to be a Circuit Judge.

Dreyfuse has long stated his conclusion that Cabell Circuit Court officials conspired to convict him as well as others in high-profile cases over the years.

In earlier habeas corpus proceedings, ordered by the Supreme Court court to be conducted in Lincoln County, Dreyfuse and his attorney have said that it was proven that he did not kill 66-year-old Otis Clay, Jr., as alleged.

Dreyfuse and his now-lawyer, former Kanawha Prosecutor Mark Plants, brought forth a renowned heart doctor from Florida. Dr. Thomas Berger said an autopsy and other evidence proved that Clay died of medical malpractice.

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Evidence presented at his murder trial 10 years ago was alleged to “prove” that Clay succumbed to a ball bat beating administered by Dreyfuse.

Berger testified that this was erroneous and court officials must have known it. Clay’s heart pacemaker was turned off, causing his death, according to Berger.

The issue of Hammers’ appointment comes after the Cabell Prosecutor was named by Governor Jim Justice to replace former Judge and Prosecutor Chris Chiles, who retired.

Dreyfuse has consistently maintained that Chiles, who prosecuted him, and Hammers, then an Assistant, were involved in producing what they knew was falsified evidence to convict him and keep him in jail.

Essentially, in his current motion, he wants Hammers adjudicated as not qualified to serve as a judge based on his alleged past record of improper prosecutions.

Dreyfuse insists that Chiles and Hammers engaged in a policy of fabricating “evidence” in high-profile cases.

If that is true, Dreyfuse argues that Hammers lacks the personal qualifications to serve as an impartial jurist.

It appears that the Supremes will have to enter some sort of order on Dreyfuse’s writ petition before Hammers can take his seat on the bench.

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In the meantime, we could be at a standstill.


As a bit of reassurance, retired Circuit Judge Dan O’Hanlon was appointed to temporarily fill in for Chiles at the end of October.

With his wisdom and temperament, the wheels of justice will never suffer as long as O’Hanlon is on the bench. He will apparently remain there until the Hammers’ appointment is upheld or denied by the Supreme Court.


Some time ago, I questioned the wisdom of Secretary of State Mac Warner’s creation of various “coalitions” in his 2024 Republican gubernatorial campaign.

Mac Warner

Then, I wondered about the strategy. Now, I just simply think the decision to become an outspoken 2020 election “denier” is a tactical mistake by the Secretary/candidate.

Give him a trophy for weighing into controversy with both feet. However, doubt that he’s chosen a good issue to prove his courage to tackle any issue.

Warner is adamant that the 2020 Presidential election was stolen from then-President Donald Trump. He’s got the conspiracy theories involving the CIA, FBI and who knows who else down pat.

Practically all of the media has adopted the phrase, “(he or she, depending on who they are writing about) says the 2020 election was stolen, without offering any proof.

I think there’s enough anecdotal evidence for a veteran political consultant to conclude that the ‘20 election likely was stolen. 

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The major problem is: how does one ever prove that without spending billions on attorney fees alone?

The observer who even suggests foul play in an election is always made to appear like some kind of nutcase.

Let’s face it. Liberal news outlets can be shown a mob of progressives creating havoc in the capitol and see only a “rally.”

If a similar size group of conservatives enter the building and wave signs, it’s an “insurrection.” 

So we know the press is biased. We know the worst thing a liberal can imagine is that Trump is back in the White House. So, every effort is made to silence the ex-President and his supporters.

Still, the “sides” are really well-defined on this issue. If you are a Trump voter, the election was stolen. If you voted for President Biden, the balloting was as honest as the day is long.

Voters who would be swayed on this issue are already in one camp or the other.

Warner voters know he’s pro-Trump. There’s no new electoral ground to plow by engaging in a drawn-out explanation accusing the CIA or anyone else of being involved in a theft conspiracy. Voters don’t want to hear that.

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Warner either has the voters who make the “theft” of the 2020 election a factor in 2024, or he doesn’t.

There’s no point betting on this dead horse.


While the recent gubernatorial debate moderator raised the question of whether the candidates agreed with Trump that the election was stolen, it was Warner who was most impassioned in his response and subsequent public comments.

So spurred on was the Secretary that he wrote an op-ed piece further detailing his conspiracy theories.

On this side of the street, I think voters would appreciate more of an explanation from the Chief Elections Officer (Warner) as to how and by whom the 2020 primary election was moved from May to June, contrary to state law.


I was, frankly, relieved to learn from The West Virginia Record last week that former Democrat United States Senator Carte Goodwin is representing the U.S.  on Chinese trade and economic relations.

The Record reported that he participated in a recent annual report detailing national security implications in trade.

The former Senator is a member of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. He’s been a member since 2011.

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You may recall that Goodwin was named to fill the late U.S. Senator Robert Byrd’s seat on a temporary basis. As such, he performed well and constituent services didn’t skip a beat.

He didn’t run for the job, after serving quietly and with honor.

One would expect nothing less of a member of the Goodwin family. I have great respect for the entire family.

“Goodwin said the commission was formed to advise Congress on the national security implications of the trade and economic relationship between the United States and China,” according to The Record. 

He said the 2023 report examines the broader strategic trends of that relationship, including the Chinese Communist Party’s “increasing efforts to challenge the rules-based international order and replace it with institutions and norms modeled after their own system.”

I feel better knowing that someone of Carte Goodwin’s stature and intelligence is looking out for American interests in dealing with the Chinese Communists.

Professionally, Goodwin is now Partner-in-Charge at Frost Brown Todd in Charleston.


He could brighten the gloomiest capitol day with a funny story or anecdote.

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West Virginia lost a standout leader and representative last week with the passing of former Delegate Larry Victor Faircloth, 75, of Martinsburg.

His family announced the sad news on social media.

Faircloth was a Republican before it became “cool” to be one. He represented Berkeley County in the state House and served on the House Finance and Judiciary committees.

Although suffering from the effects of polio his entire life, Faircloth was energetic and highly successful in general and in politics.

He was first elected in 1980 and continued to serve until 2012.

In 2004, he ran for Governor, losing in the primary to Monty Warner.

He ran for the top job again in the special election of 2011 when Governor Joe Manchin left office but lost that primary to Bill Maloney.

In 2012, Faircloth ran for State Auditor, losing to incumbent Democrat Glen Gainer III.

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In 2014, he ran for State Senate but was defeated by incumbent Senator John Unger.

Faircloth graduated from Musselman High School and majored in business administration at Shepherd University (then known as Shepherd College). 

He founded and operated his own realty company, Larry V. Faircloth Realty, in Martinsburg.

He is survived by his wife, Laura Rauch Faircloth; sons, (former Delegate) Larry William Faircloth, Isaac Anthony Faircloth; Christian Rauch Rose; daughters, Sonya “Sam” Faircloth; Katie Scarlett Rose; six grandchildren; and nine great grandchildren.

A funeral service was held at 11 a.m., Saturday, December 23, at the Inwood Family Worship Center Church of God with Pastor David Palmer officiating.

Interment was in Rosedale Cemetery.


As reassuring as having Carte Goodwin represent us versus the Chinese Communists, watching the operation of the West Virginia First Foundation board is equally concerning in the opposite direction.

The board, whose major reason for existing may be to politicize opioid treatment settlement funds, shows little sign of being open and transparent.

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Calling meetings with little public notice doesn’t do much to reassure those of us who believe in citizen participation.

I already know these are not taxpayer funds and they’re not subject to all public notice regulations, so big government folks can save their breath on that.

A week-and-a-half ago, the board met and voted to begin negotiations with an executive director.

While approving the negotiations, the group did not reveal what candidate or candidates they would be negotiating with. That’s hardly being transparent.

Something tells me that we’ve seen little political manipulation compared to what this outfit is about to show us.


Word from solid Eastern Panhandle sources confirm that the Ethics Commission has cleared Republican State Senate President Craig Blair in connection with allegations of misuse of travel and other expenses.


It saddened me greatly to hear, as this column was being put to bed, of the passing of a legendary statehouse official.

Senate President Administrative Assistant Marilyn Parsons has passed. There has never been a more savvy politician at the capitol than Parsons.

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Courteous to one and all, her knowledge and expertise will surely be missed. Her laugh and friendly attitude will endure forever.

She served the West Virginia public well.


Finally, the Jefferson County Commission, as predicted, has “gone solar” with the appointment of Pasha Majdi as the fifth Commissioner.

Pasha Majdi

The gift that may keep on giving here is the reinstatement of the county’s previously rejected solar text amendment.

The amendment had been voted down earlier when Commissioners Tricia Jackson and Jennifer Krouse were joined by then-Commissioner Clare Ath in opposition.

Majdi’s appointment to the vacancy created when Alt resigned was thought to create a majority in favor of the move.

Conservatives such as the social media news site Jefferson County Perspective, have opposed the act, saying it will “cover the county with solar compounds.”

Jackson and Krouse gave it their best shot but Majdi joined President Steve Stolipher and Jane Tabb in voting for it.

The two opposing Commissioners warned that the text was unethical, corrupt and potentially illegal. Jackson suggested hiring an outside attorney to advise the Commission on the proposal since the County Attorney has conflicts of interest on the issue.

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That proposal was not accepted by the other three Commissioners, who then voted to reinstate it.

The appointment of the fifth Commissioner created statewide news, especially after Jackson and Krouse boycotted meetings to deny a quorum to conduct business.

Krouse and Jackson, who is running for State Auditor, have drawn widespread praise from conservatives who oppose solar power plants.

Incidentally, Stolipher has recused himself from voting on the issue in the past. No explanation was given for why he voted this time around.

I’ve got a suspicion the issue is not yet settled.


To solar or not to solar … have yourselves some jolly, happy holidays!

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

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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

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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.

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1 Comment

  1. David

    December 24, 2023 at 3:33 pm

    Moore Capito is NOT good for WV, his mother isn’t either!! We are done with career politicians and family politicians. Moore quit his job, could not finish the job he started…this just tells us that he can’t finish the job he was voted to do. This just goes to show West Virginians that if he is elected as Governor and a better more powerful job came along, would he quit being Governor?

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