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Gregory’s Web – April 14, 2024

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We have discussed here several times in recent years about the newest challenges the West Virginia Republican party faces.

Unlike during most of history, the state GOP finally found parity and eventually a majority over Democrats during this last decade.

While that was happening – and since – in this space we have kept an eye on Republicans for signs of leadership skills. In the beginning, many in this formerly minority group didn’t seem to know on which end of the house the front door was located.

Arguably, it has gotten better with time.

Still, on occasion it becomes clear that someleadership Republicans were not created for the role they now play.

Last week, we touched briefly on  the uproar created by West Virginians for Life when they did not endorse West Virginia Congressman Alex Mooney. The group’s failure to support Mooney in his Republican United States Senate bid against Governor Jim Justice sparked outrage from many, including a public rebuke by Mooney’s own wife.

It’s safe to say Grace Mooney is not a regular combatant on any campaign trail but she was livid at the snub of her husband by WVFL.

Mrs. Mooney pointed out  – and rightly so – that her husband has a 100% pro-life voting record after his decade in the House. Justice’s position on abortion is less clear. Abortion is not part of routine, daily business in the Governor’s office.

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Mooney supporters have reported that their man introduced 40 pro-life bills during the most recent Congressional session. That’s a lot, even if some of it is repeat legislation.

Justice has largely been silent on the subject and clearly has authored no bills regulating it.

The major point we are attempting to make clear is that many lobbyists and lobby organizations don’t see an advantage to backing a candidate who can’t win re-election.

By running for the Senate, Mooney almost assured his 2024 defeat. Here quietly, he can’t beat Justice.

All the ideological agreement in the world is of no value to a group like Right to Life if a candidate is not electable.

It is rather strange, as the Mooney crew has pointed out, however, that an organization just totally dumps an incumbent. While Mooney is trying to switch offices from the House to the Senate, he has been a stalwart Right to Lifer his entire career.

The Mooney campaign staff is totally beside themselves. They have even pointed out that West Virginians for Life has endorsed four different Governor candidates while favoring only Justice for Senator.

All polling of the Justice-Mooney race puts the Governor on top by about 30 points. So, the likelihood of Mooney’s Congressional career continuing is very poor.

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On the other hand, don’t expect Mooney to become a pro-abortion man. I do think he is a true, right wing believer. He will stick to his sincere conservative values.

I doubt, however, that he will be leading the cheers for  WVRL any time soon.

* * * * * *

Thinking of the indignant fundamentalists I once saw a Huntington Christian school basketball game with Hamlin descend into chaos. Fans from both the home team and Hamlin High got perturbed over the officiating.

It finally descended to pushing and shoving and maybe a punch or two.

As Hamlin Head Coach Bill Elkins and I looked on, I said to Bill, “nothing is uglier than a bunch of pissed off Christians.”

He didn’t disagree.

* * * * * *

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No need for applause. We always knew I’d be right.

What are we discussing now, you ask. There are so many subjects I’m correct on, it’s hard to choose just one.

I’m focusing on my record of telling y’all that the Republican race for Governor 2024 is between Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and Kanawha House Delegate Moore Capito.

Now, my old friend Rex Repass and his MetroNews Poll have just confirmed it.

After several earlier polls offered various ever-changing results, their latest has it a dead heat between those two with Chris Miller third and Mac Warner fourth.

That’s where the focused voters would have put it all along. Study the issues and you’ll end up at Capito or Morrisey.

Now, the only things that will change significantly will be Miller and Warner losing some votes to the two leaders. By and large, voters don’t like to cast losing ballots.

If I really like Warner and he’s running dead last, I may vote for Capito, knowing I can tolerate him.

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In the final month coming up, it’s likely Capito will do better than Morrisey. Having held statewide office for 12 years, Morrisey came into the race much better known personally than Capito. And yes, I know Capito hails from the iconic Moore family and his mother is a U.S. Senator.

Legislators are little known outside their district as Eric Householder is about to find out. Moore Capito is not a household name.

Voters have generally already passed judgment and decided not to vote for the AG. Those votes will likely now push Capito over the top.

It’s always so sweet to be right.

* * * * * *

The Mooney-Justice race is not the only one in which WV Right to Life is backing a less supportive candidate for election. As long as the current RTL leadership prevails, it’s not likely to be the last.

It’s interesting to recall that when two West Virginia Congressmen – Mooney and McKinley – were thrown together in the same district, the WVFL actually endorsed both.

That’s not unlike it was years ago. When all Democrats held Congressional seats, the GOP would often nominate candidates who were more pro-life than the sitting member. Then, WVFL recommended both the Democrat and Republican.

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In politics, winning is always the name of the game. Especially so for RTL.

* * * * * *

Surprisingly, the Senate race brought a lengthy comment from WVFL President Wanda Franz. The Mooney campaign shared it with us.

It seems to me that Franz has been President since the proverbial Shep was a pup.

First off, Franz wanted critics to know it “is the goal of the WVFL to save lives.” That can hardly be criticized. She refers others to the group’s website for more information.

Immediately identifying a level of disagreement with some pro-life zealots, Franz explains the organization would never propose a bill that would eventually be ruled unconstitutional. “That would be a waste of time,” she explains.

Maybe that’s why we’ve never seen Franz or WVRTL marching in the streets.

She goes on, “endorsements are not awards for them who are pro-life.”

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She continues, “endorsements … are based on policies that put the strongest, most-effective pro-life person into a given office.”

Franz, who has been a pro-life veteran for nearly half a century, goes into how incumbents with a 100% pro-life voting record are normally endorsed.

None of that, on the other hand, explains how 100% pro-life Mooney did not earn the group’s nod this time.

Nor do her next statements deal with the case before us. It is all hypothetically based on a race where there is no incumbent with any recent voting record.

Then, Franz points out an intriguing truism. She says the legislature is operating as a super-majority pro-life body. “Yet for two years we have not been able to pass out bills.”

That has caused WVFL to conclude, “having a 100% pro-life voting record does not mean a candidate is necessarily prepared to vote pro-life.”

Hmmn. That one does not apply to Mooney. He just sponsored 40 pro-life bills, for pity’s sake.

She then outlines various ways – including having a friendly or unfriendly committee chair – that can increase or decrease possible passage of legislation.

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She continues, “we must begin to adjust our endorsement policies to better reflect the changes in behavior of those who want to hide behind their 100% pro-life voting record.”

Hold the phone.

I’ll reiterate something I’ve said here before: I’ve never been a Mooney supporter but I think he’s sincere on this subject. He’s not one of those “hiding behind his 100% pro-life voting record.”

Perhaps her next morsel somehow answers the “Mooney question,” but I honestly don’t see how.

“We have always given credit,” Franz says, “to legislators who have worked with us behind the scenes’ to create strategies that help move our bills along the legislative process.”

So, perhaps that’s it: Mooney wasn’t as helpful “behind the scenes” as Franz would have liked.

One thing Franz may forget is Mooney’s weakness for Chick-fil-A. He just doesn’t have a lot of free time as he searches down the nearest Chicken sandwich.

That begs the question: what could Justice have done “behind the scenes” that would have been more helpful than anything the Congressman did? 

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At least Mooney was in the process. How could Justice have been?

* * * * * *

Denise Morrisey, wife of Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, has told listeners she expects to be appointed to the U.S. Senate if her husband is elected Governor this November.

Under this scenario, Governor Jim Justice will be elected to Joe Manchin’s seat this fall. Then, for whatever reason, Justice will resign his post.

That puts the Senate seat open for the gracious, humble Mrs. Morrisey to be appointed by her husband to complete the term.

Pretty neat, hmmmm?

* * * * * *

Somehow, I doubt if Governor Moore Capito will appoint Mrs. Morrisey.

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* * * * * *

It was a fascinating announcement that was bound to come. I’m a bit surprised by how long it took.

We’ve discussed here before the number of “news/gossip” sites that have developed on the internet in recent years.

One of the highly interesting ones is called “Scoop Squad/Truth Squad” and focuses on the Charleston area.

It was “Scoop Squad” that uncovered extramarital relationships by Charleston police officers. They have been at the forefront of many breaking stories.

“WCHS Radio has decided to break ties with The Squad,” a posting on the site said last week. “So we are currently in transition.”

The pilots of The Squad pledge to keep it going, someplace, sometime.

Hopefully, they can salvage it. We need all the news we can get.

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* * * * * *

What on earth is going on in House Delegate District 91? Eastern Panhandle residents suspect a fake candidate is in the field.

That’s the district currently served by Republican incumbent Don Forsht. Others running this time include Joseph de Soto and Tammy Hess.

Perhaps, though, there is really only one “other” since no information about de Soto can be verified.

The Facebook page, “Jefferson County Perspectives,” has asked numerous questions of the alleged candidate while getting no answers.

According to his filing papers, de Soto lives in Gerrardstown. Interestingly, that is where Forsht also resides.

One has to admit that de Soto’s resume is impressive. 

According to JCP, de Soto claims endorsement from the National Rifle Association and other well-known organizations.

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Yet, he doesn’t respond to questions or attempts to contact him. So what is the deal?

* * * * * *

There are those who hold that, in politics, all publicity is positive.

“Don’t get upset as long as they spell your name right,” is one oft-quoted line that may well be true most of the time.

It surely isn’t a truism in other cases.

Making the rounds last week was a mugshot of Dwayne Ray Russell of Mason County. Russell, it seems, was charged with a first offense Driving Under the Influence and ended up in jail.

Sources said this was not the candidate’s first run-in with the law.

Russell already had the overwhelming task of trying to unseat the “giant slayer,” Republican State Senator Amy Nicole Grady in District Four.

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Now the job surely got harder.

* * * * * *

Sources in Mingo say Judge Michael Thornsbury’s Republican Assessor candidate Audrey Smith was quite perturbed recently. The cause for the uproar was the fact that Assistant County Clerk Bethany Goad-Cisco attended a voter registration drive at Tug Valley High School.

County Clerk Yogi Croaff told anyone inquiring that he was not able to attend the event, so he assigned Goad-Cisco to be there as part of her job responsibilities. 

The fact that Cisco is also a GOP Assessor hopeful did not enter his decision, Croaff said.

A Secretary of State official said the way Croaff handled the issue was “totally proper.”

If Smith wins, the courthouse back door will swing open for Thornsbury.

* * * * *:*

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Speaking of Goad-Cisco, she recently received the endorsement of the incumbent Assessor, Maggie Hager.

Hager, highly-respected in the county, was appointed to the job when longtime Assessor Ramona Mahon retired last year.

Hager, long a fixture at the courthouse, will stay right there and is looking forward to having Goad-Cisco as her boss.

The current Assessor says Cisco “has all the necessary qualities and skills to excel in the Assessor’s office.”

* * * * * *

In the meantime, don’t forget a vote for Sabrina Deskins as Circuit Judge in Logan and Mingo.

No return to Thornsbury justice.

* * * * * *

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Plus, there’s no better choice for Mingo County Commissioner Diann Hannah.

* * * * * *

Think about the powerhouse leadership team the state may have a year from now: United States Senators Shelley Moore Capito, Jim Justice and Governor Moore Capito.

Wow!

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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.