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Gregory’s Web – March 10, 2024

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Modern campaign methods change but fundamentals are still the same.

When a candidate is running nothing but sweetsy-sweet ads extolling his or her own virtues, he or she likely believes he or she is in the lead.

There’s no reason, in that case, for the candidate to try to alter the landscape much.

Positive messages reinforcing what a great person the candidate is will keep the status quo as the candidate coasts to victory.

On the other hand, if your favorite candidate delivers commercials attacking opponents, he or she definitely believes he or she is trailing or heading in the wrong direction.

While I have been saying for months that the once-formidable lead for Republican gubernatorial candidate Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is slipping away, we now have anecdotal evidence that it is.

In confirming the tightening race, Morrisey and his supporters are now showing many signs of losing all confidence in the inevitability of his nomination.

The candidate is taking on those who claim he’s not really conservative and those who maintain he got on the Trump Train long after it left the station.

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At one time not long ago, the AG simply ignored those remarks.

There’s many reasons the AG’s lead has gone down the tubes.

First and foremost, Morrisey and his highly-admired, out-of-state political consultants completely misread his personal rapport when meeting prospective voters.

These advisors apparently believed that getting Morrisey “out among the people” would gain him supporters.

That simply isn’t true. Not with West Virginia voters, anyway.

Initially, it doesn’t take the sharpest voter in Matewan long to listen to Morrisey in person and realize, “he ain’t from here.”

The Northeastern accent tells Southern West Virginia coal miners that the AG knows little about the concerns of mountain people.

I’ve heard from various locations all over the state. One other constant in voter reaction to a personal Morrisey interaction is that he’s always “in a big hurry.”

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There are folks who can nod their heads and appear to understand the subject matter one brings up without having a clue what is actually being discussed.

Morrisey is one of those.

Dozens of folks have said, “he listened to me but he didn’t hear a word I said,” after meeting the AG. “He spent most of his time playing with his cell phone,” they go on. 

Some politicians are simply uncomfortable around people. Morrisey could be one of those.

One-on-one campaigning is not a good idea for these types of candidates.

So, his constant travel to meet West Virginians new to him might actually be a disastrous idea.

* * * * * *

Those closely watching the GOP Governor contest see the race coming down to three possible winners.

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Most believe that former Kanawha County Delegate Capito has a narrow lead over the AG.

It’s fascinating from all parts of the state that politicos and polling data indicate that Huntington auto dealer Chris Miller is showing most of the recent upward movement.

His improvement has generally placed him within the margin of error for second, which could bump Morrisey to third place.

It’s also intriguing to find that most of Miller’s gains come at Morrisey’s expense.

All seem to agree that Secretary of State Mac Warner is fourth with little prospect of moving up, a sad reality for his ardent supporters.

Interestingly enough, voters not already knowledgeable of Miller and his heritage seem to like his rotating commercial approach.

Many areas of the state have become familiar with his auto dealer TV, radio and print ads over the past six or so decades. 

Referring to his grandfather, H. D. (Dutch) Miller who founded Dutch Miller Chevrolet in 1961, one caller told me he sees “three Miller ads in every news broadcast.”

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He easily described them. “I get one positive Chris Miller for Governor spot, one Dutch Miller car dealer commercial and one negative Governor ad criticizing his opponents as not conservative enough,” the potential voter said.

That combination definitely puts the Miller “brand” squarely in a voter’s mind.

It also gives Miller a legitimate shot at winning the GOP nomination on May 14.

* * * * * *

Supporters of each of the Republican candidates are hoping for major primary boosts from former President Donald Trump.

The ideal Trump push would come from him visiting the state, holding a joint rally with his chosen candidate and making a big splash with his endorsement.

One reason such a display is unlikely is Trump’s enormous popularity in the Mountain State.

The ex-President will likely spend more time from now until May 14 in places where he is in a tight battle with Democrat Joe Biden for electoral votes in November.

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Trump will get 90% of the GOP vote here in May and close to 70% in the fall.

With no danger of losing West Virginia’s tiny electoral votes, there really is no reason for him to campaign here.

There is always the possibility that he could plan a major rally in a neighboring state, make a quick stop in a town near that border and toss in a West Virginia event just for kicks.

For example, it’s fairly easy to schedule a 7 pm event in Pittsburgh and throw in a 3 pm rally in Wheeling or Morgantown.

No doubt each of the Republicans will want Trump to rally a crowd for him. It’s always possible.

* * * * * *

I’m not prepared to go into great depth about the signs of desperation displayed by anti-Moore Capito for Governor groups last week.

I’ve already labeled the allegations contained therein as the pure lies they are.

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It’s amazing in this age of modern technology that it is so easy to mislead the public.

A few websites and social media outlets republished the slanderous Capito charges because they innocently believed the Pittsburgh Observer to be a legitimate newspaper. It was apparently the “Observer” that launched the story. 

It definitely is not a legitimate anything. Rather, it’s a fake news site intent on discrediting Capito. 

The Observer was created within the past two weeks, apparently for the sole purpose of destroying Capito, personally and politically.

Frankly, I think the charges show the prejudices of those making them. Even if true, they would not devastate the Capito candidacy. There is no hint that Capit did freesomething illegal.

The allegations are obvious lies on their face. It would take mere minutes to destroy any credibility this site ever had.

To think that one of the other campaigns concentrated as much time as it took to create this fake “news site,” makes me wonder about that campaign’s sanity as much as its judgment.

As of week’s end, it appeared that the only campaign that might be linked to the Observer sham is the Warner campaign. 

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It looks like it was a Christian-based group that felt the urgent need to lie, lie and lie some more in the first place.

There’s no question that, over the years, this organization has done and voiced opinions I totally disagree with.

However, this most recent pious effort is over the top and deplorable.

The Capito “article” is further outrageous because the author purports to be sympathetic to Capito’s “difficult decision” of whether to disclose his “problem” to the public.

First of all, Capito has not asked these folks for “help.”

The average voter will not look at this garbage and refuse to elect Capito. Frankly, I think it helps him with sensible voters who will see him as a victim.

In my day of journalism classes, instructors used the example of an intrepid reporter asking an impossible-to-answer -correctly-question to discuss bias.

“Are you still beating your wife?” the reporter asked the candidate.

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Any response is disastrous. If he says, “yes,” he’s admitting he still does it. If the answer is “no,” he’s confirming he used to do it.

In the real world, the West Virginia Family Policy Council has created a no-win situation for themselves.

* * * * * *

We learned the likely truth behind the Observer on Friday when Neal Vass posted on X social media.

Vass is with the American Civil Liberties Union and is a sure-shot investigative reporter.

His message was short but his documentation was long and compelling.

“Last week, a fake news site was set up to ‘expose’ a WV gubernatorial candidate’s sexual orientation,” Vass wrote on X.

“This week, I cracked it. The site belongs to@FamilyPolicyWV President Caiden Cowger and the article in question has ties to @macwarner4gov.”

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Vass also provides the history linking the Warner campaign and Family Policy Council to the Observer post.

This added information raises more questions than it answers.

The first is: what on earth does the Warner campaign have to gain by slandering Capito?

Surely Warner’s staff is coordinating poll results and knows he has no chance of winning the Governor’s race.

Knocking Capito out of the running would clearly not make Warner a winner. He’d have to get by Miller as well.

So, one rumor in the field is that Warner hopes to get a job with Morrisey if he is able to help the AG get elected Governor.

It’s also curious that Cowger and the Family Policy Council are involved in this mess.

Allen Whitt was the longtime leader of the council. He left the state after losing a United States Senate primary to Shelley Moore Capito, Moore Capito’s mother.

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Perhaps the whole group should plan to exit, stage right.

* * * * * *

For his part, Warner issued a scathing press release condemning the Observer article.

The SOS asked the other candidates to join in his condemnation.

Hopefully, Warner really didn’t know about the fake story in advance. If he didn’t, he needs to refute the allegations in the strongest possible manner, backed up by facts.

* * * * * *

We omitted one Prosecutor candidate from our recent list of those running in Mingo County.

Katherine Cisco-Sturgill of Lavalette is on the ballot.

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She will face Brock Mounts for the position currently held by Duke Jewell.

He is running for Family Court Judge.

* * * * * *

On the subject of Mounts, he has scheduled a Meet and Greet beginning at 5 p.m., Saturday, March 16.It takes place at Halftime Grill on Kermit’s Main Street.

* * * * * *

Logan County politics appears no different as the county leans Republican than it was in the decades of Democrat rule.

Social media is being utilized in this case to try to stop the possible re-election of Republican Assessor Glen “Houn’dog” Adkins.

I have stated in the past that Adkins is one of my favorite people. He’s a very unusual character, to say the least.

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I believe Adkins is fair and reasonable. He has compassion and has helped many people over the years.

Christopher Trent is a community activist. He is quite likable in his own right.

Trent sees himself as a corruption fighter. He often uses his Facebook site to publicize and “fight corruption.”

Trent maintains that Adkins has not been honest. He says the Assessor has even lowered the assessed value of his own property to reduce his personal tax bill.

Adkins maintains he has followed the law and routinely sought advice from others concerning his assessments. He explains that flooding has diminished his property value.

Not knowing all facts and statistics in the case, I can’t definitely say who is right or wrong here.

I will testify, though, that I would be shocked if Adkins intentionally did anything wrong.

As everyone familiar with Logan knows, Adkins got himself in real trouble some years ago when he served as County Clerk.

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I’m convinced that Adkins was so devastated by that situation that he learned to strictly follow all rules.

Perhaps we’ll learn every fact in this case by May 14.In the meantime, I’m sticking with Houn’Dog.

* * * * * *

Here we go continuing our rundown of House of Delegates races on the 2024 ballot.

In District 31, the clueless incumbent Republican Margitta Mazzocchi is unopposed. I should quit while I’m behind.

The 32nd District features Democrat April Estep. She’s preparing to challenge Republican Josh Holstein, who has no primary opponent.

Republican incumbent Jordan Bridges has no primary opponent in the 33rd. Democrat George Howes is likewise unopposed.

District 34 features incumbent Republican Mark Dean. The GOP’s Gavin Dillon is likewise on the May ballot. “Big John” White is running as a Democrat.

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Republican Adam Vance has no opposition, Democrat or Republican, in the 35th District.

In 36, Democrat Tiffany Clemins has no primary opponent. Meanwhile, GOP incumbent David Green has no primary opponent.

Incumbent Republican Marty Gearhart is unopposed in the 37th primary. Democrat Polla Rumberg has no opponent, either.

In District 38, Republican Joe Ellington is unopposed. Democrat Randa Faulkner has no primary opponent.

Incumbent Republican Doug Smith in District 39.

The 40th features longtime GOP incumbent Roy Cooper being challenged in the primary by Jonathon Fain. The sole Democrat running is James McNeely.

District 41 features Republican incumbent Jordan Maynor and Democrat Anna Ferraraccio. Both have no primary opponents.

In the 42nd District, Democrat Addam Gibson is unopposed in the primary to take on Republican incumbent Brandon Steele. He is the heavy favorite in this Raleigh County contest.

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The 43rd District finds Republican incumbent Christopher Toney running unopposed in the primary.

No Democrat has filed in 43.

Democrat Tony Martin is running in the 44th District. He is unopposed in the primary.

Incumbent Republican Carl Roop is alone on the GOP side.

The 45th finds Republican incumbent Eric Brooks without primary or general election opposition.

* * * * * *

More next time.

Contact Ron Gregory at 304-533-5185 or ronjoegregory@gmail.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.

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.