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Gregory’s Web – March 24, 2024

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After another personal electronic age disaster, it’s a miracle (or a curse) I have even a line of prose this week. Those of you who hoped I wouldn’t be able to can hold your applause.

There’s no point in this relic of the days of dinosaurs attempting to tell those below 40 years of age what happened. I can’t do it. I sometimes have trouble finding the “on-off” switch, for heaven’s sake.

Simply put, the 40 and under crowd speaks a different language than I do. What makes sense to them makes none whatsoever to me and vice versa.

Suffice it to say that what has become my semi-annual electronic breakdown came this year in March. Although all such tragedies develop a bit differently, this time I ended up with a dead phone.

Unlike last time when a similar “death” caused me to lose all the data on my former phone, this time it saved my Facebook account with no apparent interruption.

However, all 4,000 contacts may be hopelessly lost. So if we’ve been cell phone buddies for years and you receive a FB request from me for your number, it’s really me asking.

Think of it: no worry about me being “hacked.” Who would want to impersonate me, anyway?

In the meantime, just watch how smoothly we travel through this week’s column. Amazing.

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Right?

* * ** * *

What about the photos on social media and the Internet purporting to show Mingo County Circuit Judge Miki Thompson sitting beside the bench at a Mingo County Commission meeting?

While a few of those texting me simply wanted to know why Thompson was sitting in that weird location, others were quick to criticize Her Honor.

“You are right,” one emailer wrote to me. I like it when communication gets off to a constructive start like that.

This particular reader was referring to my constant comments that the indictment and subsequent resignation of disgraced Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury did not end Mingo courthouse corruption.

Thompson is just as tyrannical as Thornsbury. Unlike Thornsbury, who loved his reputation as a “hanging judge,” she just smiles as she puts the hypothetical knife in someone’s back.

I watched her do all she possibly could to make sure the murder of 18-yesr-old Dawson Isom on a sunny Saturday morning was swept under the rug. She was a willing conspirator to deprive the senior high school student of any form of justice.

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From sealing investigation files to ruling against Isom attorney Mike Clifford at every opportunity, Thompson was a major villain in this miscarriage of justice.

A young man llost his life and nobody in Mingo government did anything to bring the criminals to justice.

That’s not because this was a classic whodunnit, either.

Nearly everyone knew who killed Isom. Law enforcement ànd the court system just let the culprits escape. Believe it or not, the Sheriff’s Department had their holiday party in the killer’s building.

It’s a sad commentary.

The death records classified the incident as a “homicide,” according to the Isom family. Still, there was no justice. Two elected Prosecutors have now failed to charge anyone with this very public murder.

Now, Thompson’s running for re-election in a race she cannot win. I believe the people have figured her out.

Besides that, Mingo Family Court Judge Sabrina Deskins is challenging Thompson. Not only is Deskins a compassionate Mingo Countian, she is beloved in Logan, the second county in the two-county district.

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As an Assistant Prosecutor in Logan County, Deskins won many friends and will likely run first in both counties.

Three judges are elected, with two coming from Logan.

Some in Williamson suggested that Thompson sat up front with Commissioners during their meeting as a show of power. Others said the courtroom was crowded and there was little room elsewhere.

No one seemed to know if one or more Commissioners invited her to the front.

I, for one, suspect she is too powerful to sit with the “common people.”

At least one caller said it was “unethical” for a judge to pose as Thompson did at that Commission meeting. She appeared to be a Commissioner or advisor, they said. Several hot topics were on the agenda and Thompson was looking for notoriety, others claimed.

* * * * * *

Thompson showed her true colors many times during and after Isom was beaten to death on Second Avenue that day. She definitely did not side with the victim nor show an ounce of compassion.

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I suppose we can also conclude that Thompson’s true color is red. As I mentioned earlier, it was she who saw red when she became aware that many of Isom’s fellow Belfry High classmates planned to attend his first hearing. They agreed to wear red sweaters in honor of their school colors.

Thompson ordered bailiffs not to allow anyone in the courtroom wearing red.

Some students had driven to the scene and were able to return to their cars and grab a different color shirt or jacket. Others were simply banned from a public hearing because of Thompson’s illogical ruling that seeing the red jackets might spur a riot. Incredible.

More unbelievable is that Thompson, running for another term, has clearly chosen a color for all her campaign advertising: RED!

How insensitive would one have to be not to realize that using red all over her campaign material rubs her prejudice against the Isoms and their friends all over this race?

If one could somehow buy the assertion that Thompson never gave the insult a thought, what would that say about her intellect?

Judge Thompson must go.

* *:*:* * *

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Transparency has never been a quality displayed by Attorney General Patrick Morrisey.

Now as a GOP candidate for Governor, he’s avoiding public debates like the plague.

Voters and his opponents wonder: what does Morrisey have to hide?

* * * * * *

I’ve said it many times before and I’ll say it again. West Virginia’s Democrat United States Senator Joe Manchin can manufacture almost as much publicity as former Republican President Donald Trump.

This time, Manchin has vowed to oppose any judicial appointment recommended by Democrat President Joe Biden if it fails to gain approval from one Republican colleague.

“Just one Republican,” Manchin told the news site Politico. “That’s all I’m asking for. Give me something bipartisan. This is my own little filibuster. If they can’t get one Republican, I vote for none. I’ve told [Democrats] that. I said, ‘I’m sick and tired of it, I can’t take it anymore,’” Manchin said in an interview with Politico last week.

“While most nominees make it through the process because of the Democrats’ 51-vote majority in the Senate, Manchin’s opposition could lead to problems for nominees that don’t have the other 50 Democrats’ support,” the political news site observed.

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* * * * * *

As the uproar continued last week about the “fake news site,” The Pittsburgh Observer, one has to wonder about motives and whether or not the slanderous perpetrators accomplished their goal.

If the only purpose was to create a story that would grab attention, I suppose it worked for the limited time it appeared on the internet.

The story, which leveled unsubstantiated rumors about one of the Republican Governor candidates, offered no quotes, no facts and no proof to back up its libelous claims.

If one or more of the losing candidates believed the front-runner needed to have this issue discussed, maybe they succeeded.

Political bomb throwing is often interesting. It definitely was this time.

The only major GOP Governor candidate not accused of having a role in the dirty tricks was Huntington businessman Chris Miller.

My bet would be that the article failed to make even a one percent change in this race.

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* * *:* *:*

The saddest news from last week involved the untimely passing of Lincoln County physician, Dr. Gregory Allen Elkins, at age 61.

A loyal supporter and friend to those in need, I came to know Elkins best in his role as team physician for the Hamlin High School Bobcats and, later, the Lincoln County Panthers.

We spent many a cool, damp evening on the Lions Club Field sidelines. Dr. Elkins was permanently professional and compassionate.

He willingly gave of his meager amount of free time in service to his community.

Recognized as the face of Lincoln Primary Care, he helped the clinic grow by leaps and bounds over the years. In an age of instant in and out “service” by modern physicians, Dr. Elkins actually took the time to understand and listen to his patients.

He will be missed by his loving family, including his wife Joanna; his daughter, Jessica Balestra and her husband, Brad; and his daughter, Rachel Elkins and her boyfriend Zach Johnston. He also recently welcomed a grandson, Caden Balestra.

He is preceded in death by his mother and father, Barbara and Carl Elkins.

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Dr. Elkins graduated from Hamlin High in 1980 and received his undergraduate degree from West Virginia University in 1984.

His passion for medicine led him to the Marshall University School of Medicine, where he graduated in 1988. He completed his residency in Family Medicine at Marshall in 1991.

The Lincoln County sky is a bit darker and the spirit of a thankful community goes out to the Elkins family and their many friends.

I, for one, will always recall our often humor-filled banter on the Hamlin sidelines. We have lost a true community hero.

 * *;* * * *

While far-right conservatives slammed it, the Republican-led House of Representatives approved a $1.2 trillion omnibus bill that will avoid a government shutdown for now.

GOP House challenger and political prisoner Derrick Evans, voiced his strong opposition to the legislation. As he has previously, Evans sharply criticized his opponent, incumbent Republican Carol Miller, for supporting the leadership proposal.

Miller is definitely a leadership-supporting legislator who would be described by most as a “moderate.”

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This GOP primary is certainly a philosophical contest. We’ll see just how much control far right wing voters have in the Mountain State.

It will be closer than I ever imagined.

* *:* * * *

As the pastor told his confessing parishioner at Wednesday night prayer meeting, “Brother, I don’t believe I would have told that.

Just after I applauded Republican Governor candidate Chris Miller for coming on strong in the 2024 race, he may have come on a bit too forceful.

His recent TV ad is very close to some line of moderation. As I mentioned earlier, most unbiased observers would label his mother, GOP Congresswoman Carol Miller, as a “moderate.” Don’t worry about anti-gun activists seeing any moderation in Chris’ pro-gun video spot.

Those with much of any liberal bend took to social media to express disgust at the ad. I suppose members of the Citizens Defense League heaped praise on it, although I missed seeing it.

If one hasn’t viewed the spot, it may be difficult to explain. Basically, Miller drives up to some secluded spot, jumps out of his truck dressed for an African safari, rushes to the rear and grabs his gun and starts firing.

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All the while, he chatters about protecting his family and the good citizens of West Virginia. The spot basically ends with Miller firing shots at a picturesque hillside. Moments later, it gives the impression that his shots hit beyond the horizon, causing what could visually be World War III just beyond the mountain top.

I will hand it to Miller and his campaign staff. If winning an election is basically about name identification, he surely got some with this spot.

It will be interesting to see, after the dust and bullets settle, how this moves the polling numbers. I honestly couldn’t predict what the result will be.

It does occur to me, however, that if a “break from the pack” ad is to be really effective, the candidate should be taking a position opposite his opponents.

In this case, does anyone know a Republican gubernatorial candidate who is anti-gun?

* * * * * *

We resume our brief look at legislative races this time with House District 61.

There, Republican incumbent Dean Jeffries is unopposed.

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District 62 Republican Speaker Roger Hanshaw of Clay has two primary opponents. Justin Bordas of Grantsville and Laura McGinnis of Nebo are challenging him.

Lori Cowger Dittman, an incumbent Republican, is unopposed in the 63rd District.

The 64th features Republican incumbent Adam Burkhammer, also without opposition.

Republican incumbent Robbie Martin will face off with Democrat Matthew Lerner in the general election. Both are unopposed in the primaries in District 65.

Republican incumbent Jonathan Kyle has no primary opponent in 66. Democrat Dama Nestor is also unopposed in the primary. Incumbent Republican Ty Nestor is not running.

Delegate Nestor has been a champion in the battle to increase the pay of correctional officers.

Republican incumbent Elias Coop-Gonzalez is without an opponent in the primary. He’ll meet Democrat Cody Thompson in the fall for the District 67 seat. He is likewise unopposed in the primary.

The 68th District has incumbent Republican David Critchfield opposing Chris Phillips in the GOP primary. No Democrats filed.

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Former Republican Delegate Danny Hamrick will take on incumbent Keith Marple in the 69th primary. There are no Democrats running for that Harrison County seat.

District 70 will see Democrat Morgan Earp taking on incumbent Republican Mickey Petitto in the general since neither are being opposed in May.

Republican incumbent Laura Kimble is unopposed in the 71st District.

Incumbent Republican Clay Riley is unopposed in District 72.

There are three Republicans running in the 73rd and no Democrats. Fred Guidi will take on fellow party members Bryan Smith and Richard Wolfe.

Incumbent Amy Summers is not seeking re-election.

District 74 features Democrat Frankie Delapas and incumbent Republican Michael DeVault. Neither has primary opposition.

Republican David Kennedy takes on incumbent Phil Mallow in the 75th District primary. Democrat Stephanie Spears waits for the winner in November since she is unopposed.

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Wow! We may actually finish this before November.

Author

  • 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

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.