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Editorial

Gregory’s Web – February 3, 2024

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As we approach election day 2024, it appears to be living up to its promised level of excitement.

Ever since the last vote was stolen … I mean, counted … in the 2020 balloting, both major parties have been aiming at 2024.

From start to finish, everyone has expected this to be a knock down, drag out affair.

Well, hopefully, it will not go that far.

The last one of those threatened drag outs came just after State Senator Donna Boley invited me to sit with her at a Republican meeting in Bridgeport. Then the man who single handedly wrecked the Virginia Republican Party, John Findlay, ordered his goon platoon to escort me out.

That was a long time ago when Republicans weren’t as kind and compassionate as they are now.

Or are they?

In 2024 it’s safe to say Republicans still don’t like Democrats; conservatives still disdain liberals; and agreement is rare.

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Even though the mail is slow, it’s expected that all candidacy applications mailed before midnight January 27 have reached their destination.

So we’ll resume our rundown of the upcoming races shortly.

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Before we do that, however, let’s make one more brief summation of state Republican party determination to return to minority status. We’ve told you about some of this before.

It couldn’t happen to a more deserving group of people. An old joke basically relates when St. Peter was taking a man on a tour of heaven.

While the Saint and visitor had been loud and boisterous visiting the other denominations, he asked his guest to remain totally silent as  they approached the group of Baptists.

As they shuffled by without making a sound, the guest asked why the Baptists required no noise.

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“Because they think they’re the only ones here,” said the Saint.

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Unless it was an Arch Moore Republican event, I never attended a GOP gathering where the crowd was actually made to feel welcome.

I used to think Republicans had been stereotyped so much by their fur coats and caviar that they decided to play the parts. 

Uppity Republicans are not exactly good for party growth.

These days, it just seems Republicans have a political death wish that shows through in everything they say and do.

I’ve mentioned in the past their determination to stop straight ticket voting and partisan judge elections just when they got to the point where either former practice would have benefitted them electorally.

If those two changes were not enough to spell their ultimate demise, they’ve now decided to throw their welcome mats at new GOP converts rather than spreading them for all to join the party.

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For my entire adult life I’ve heard Republican leaders lament their minority status in West Virginia.

To be honest, I thought converting Democrats and independents to the GOP was the only way to address that concern.

I must have been wrong. I still don’t see any other way myself but longtime Republicans apparently do.

Party executive committees should exist for one reason: to promote the party. It is not their job to dictate policy and rule with an iron hand.

For years, national, state and county executive committees strictly adhered to fair and equal primaries. No primary favorites were played.

In 2024, however, Republicans have gotten so smug in their majority, they can provide litmus tests for who is good enough to run as a bonafide Republican.

I don’t intend to make this a personal thing by identifying one or more candidates. But it sure doesn’t bother some GOP leaders to single out duly registered Republicans as not being good enough to be on their ballot.

My old Gilmer County co-worker, Charles Wolfe, dreamily said one day, “I’d like to be just like John Doe (one of our customers whose name I changed to protect the guilty).

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I knew Doe was not a favorite of any of us workers.

“Why on earth would you like to he just like John Doe?” I asked.

“Because I’d like to find out, just for a couple minutes, how good it feels to he perfect and be right about everything.”

Likewise, those Republicans who are qualified to decide who can and cannot be a member of their party or a GOP candidate for office must feel really good about themselves. Obviously, they overvalue their importance to the party’s success.

I’d like to know, from these newly-identified executive committee members, just what is the exact length of time a voter must be registered Republican to be a real Republican?

Let’s hope the GOP gains some common sense by 2026.

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The two major combatants for President are securely on the West Virginia ballot.

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Former Republican President Donald Trump and Democrat President Joe Biden will likely win their primaries.

It is possible that Biden could be as unpopular as his Democrat predecessor, Barack Obama and lose the Democrat nod here.

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Huntington Mayor Steve Williams made it through the filing period without primary opposition for the Democrat gubernatorial nomination.

So while the Republicans mix it up, Williams can be busy gaining votes and funds for his November run.

It’s fairly obvious, just from the commercials thus far, that the GOP contenders are not going to wage political war on higher ground.

Led by Kanawha County Delegate Moore Capito and Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, the sparks are already flying.

Secretary of State Mac Warner and Huntington businessman Chris Miller round out the top tier contenders.

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Kevin Christian and Mitch Roberts are also campaigning on the Republican side. 

Chase Linko-Looper is carrying the Mountain Party banner.

One name not on the list is Republican Yashida Yost. She pre-filed early on the promise of bringing common sense to the statehouse.

Yost was on the road attending events throughout the fall and winter. She told me more than once that nothing would hold her back. 

Something surely did.

Yost was a pleasant campaigner who accused various media personalities and candidates of being sexist when she was not included in debate plans.

I looked forward to her being the “Peter D. Beter” of the 2024 election. Alas, it was not to be.

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Former Kanawha Republican Delegate and Senior Assistant to the Governor Larry Pack has a free ride so far for State Treasurer.

Even in the days of almost total Democrat dominance, there was usually some Republican who stepped forward to contest statewide offices.

The electoral dismay of current Democrats and their leaders is obviously written on every face and heard in their defeatist rhetoric.

State Democrat Party Chair Mike Pushkin definitely spent more time attacking former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship for filing as a Democrat for U.S. Senate than he did extolling the virtues of any other candidates.

It’s difficult to comprehend that Democrats slipped so far, so quickly.

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President Trump, of course, makes a lot of the difference. If he had not come along when he did, we still might have been seeing Democrats routinely elected in the Mountain State.

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Or at least running.

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Not nearly as many candidates filed to meet incumbent judges as had been forecast by most political analysts.

There would likely have been more if judicial positions were partisan, as they once were.

Many statehouse regulars thought the legislature would revert judge positions to partisan last year but it was not to be.

Aside from where circuits were realigned or reallocated, the status quo mostly prevails.

Kanawha County’s Eighth Circuit has a new position. There, former Democrat State Senator Richard Lindsay looked for all the world like he was going to have a free ride until the final filing period.

Then, Charleston lawyer Eric Cantrell entered the contest.

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The only sitting judge drawing an opponent is Jennifer Bailey, who is being challenged by Ashley Deem.

Actually, Deem filed first in that Division.

That Bailey-Deem seat is one where the challenger would likely have benefitted from a Democrat/Republican ballot. Deem is viewed as a solid conservative. 

Since it’s non-partisan, Deem does not have the built-in advantage that having an “R” by her name would create.

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Kanawha County’s Family Court will feature an interesting contest with the late filing of Charleston attorney Catherine Capito against Family Court Circuit 11, Division 4 incumbent Lera Van Meter.

Capito is the former wife of Kanawha Delegate Moore Capito, a Republican candidate for Governor.

Kelli Pritt, wife and law partner of Kanawha Delegate Chris Pritt, is also in that race. She adds to the intrigue.

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You may recall Delegate Pritt as developing laryngitis and being unable to dial a phone when I contacted him as he pulled out of the Secretary of State race awhile back.

Perhaps he thought MetroNews would get his announcement right and I’d mess it up. Whatever, he didn’t confirm what we knew for weeks until he appeared on the Morgantown news outlet several days later.

Early thinking was that Kelli Pritt would be the favorite to win over the incumbent Bailey.

Now, it may require more ciphering by those with more knowledge than I to figure this one out.

Two naughts is still naught, right Jethro?

* * * * * *

By the way, there’s no way the indecisive Chris Pritt is going to win the race he settled on; he will not beat incumbent State Senator Eric Nelson.

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The legislature’s good graces awarded three new Magistrates to Kanawha, bringing the county’s 2025 total to 13.

Seeking re-election is Pete Lopez, Rusty Casto, Brent Hall, Jack Pauley, Leslie Grace, Joe Shelton, Mike Ferrell, Kacie Moore, Gary Sheff and Traci Carper-Strickland.

Rebecca Urie is challenging Pauley. William (Bolts) Willis is running for Grace’s seat. Dale Whitehair is challenging Ferrell.

Shawn Little and Michael Allen are running against Moore.

Tony Jackson is pitted against Sheff. 

Kanawha County Sheriff’s Deputy Harry Carpenter, Lisa Good and Tressie Proffitt are running for the new Eleventh Division. 

Mary Dawn Frampton, Earl Whittington, Todd Chevalier and Melanie Rucker are vying for the new Twelfth Division.

Chad Smart, Nick Quinn, Andrea Richmond-Board, John Luoni and Elias Gregory (who?) are after the new Thirteenth Division position.

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There’s the smell of bad blood in the Fourth Senatorial District wafting its way through Mason County at least.

My friend and yours, Republican Senator Amy Nicole Grady, has done great things for her district and state.

Of course Grady is a teacher and won the title of “Giant Slayer” when she defeated not only then-Senate President Mitch Carmichael but far right hero, Delegate Jim Butler in the 2020 GOP primary.

With the tiny bit of humility I must display at times like this, I was the only political forecaster who predicted her win before the primary election.

Her last-minute opponent this time is fellow teacher Dwayne Russell, a Democrat.

Highly-reliable downtown Leon sources (as opposed to uptown Leon sources) tell me there’s no love lost between these two neighbors who live a scant mile apart in the Mason County metropolis. 

One observer described Russell as “a typical WVEA member” and Grady as “not a typical WVEA member.”

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For the record, I don’t know if either is a WVEA or AFT member.

This one smells and sounds like fun.

* * * * * *

We’ll go into more next time.

* * * * * *

As we put this edition to bed came late word of the sad passing of Fred McCormick.

Those in the Kanawha County Courthouse, along with the citizens of the county, are mourning the loss of a dedicated public servant.  

Most of us knew Fred as the loving husband of longtime Kanawha County Clerk, Vera McCormick.

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They were married for 54 years. He was a doting husband, always driving her to and from work for 20 years. Even on late, late election nights, Fred was always there to transport his love, Vera.

When on the street, they walked together hand-in-hand. 

Fred and Vera raised two children, Derek and Debbie, and they have three loving grandchildren who live in Lexington, Kentucky. 

Fred always had a smile on his face and always had a joke to tell, friends commented. 

He will be missed by all who knew him. 

I clearly remember the last time I saw him. We were at the St. Albans Tudor’s, where we had our morning coffee. I can still see the smile he flashed as we parted.

His passing is our loss. Condolences to all.

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.