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Gregory’s Web – April 21, 2024



While we have touched on political endorsements several times in this space, they are still one of the intriguing sidelights of any election.

We’ve spent a great deal of time in recent weeks discussing the peculiarities of West Virginia Right to Life’s recommendations. One conclusion is that if a candidate is a huge underdog, it may not matter how pro-life he or she is. 

Special interest groups do know how legislation is approved. If one has no chance of winning a legislative seat, he or she is not going to be able to vote on bills. There’s no reason, then, for a lobbyist group to stick its own neck out for a sure loser. What possible value does that have for the endorsing organization?

This week, I have been looking with some fascination at the AFL-CIO COPE endorsements.

During the years of Democrat dominance in state politics, it was rare to see any Republicans supported by labor. Now, with the GOP in control, there’s more variety.

COPE has endorsed Democrat Huntington Mayor Steve Williams for Governor. None of the four major Republican candidates earned the group’s favor.

Wheeling Mayor Glen Elliott is their choice for the United States Senate seat being vacated by Joe Manchin. Like Manchin, Elliott is a Democrat. 

That’s the Senate race where I expect former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship to capture the Democrat nomination. One thing is certain: Blankenship will keep the race interesting. While he certainly doesn’t present himself as a sympathetic figure, his recital of the treatment he has received would draw support from many.


He is the only person convicted of a misdemeanor to be housed at the facility built for felons where he was incarcerated.

The ex-CEO was also said to be a “convicted felon” by President Trump and national news reporters when he was never, ever convicted of one. Somehow, the courts refused to grant Blankenship any compensatlon for being publicly called a felon when he wasn’t.

Basically, the Richmond court ruled that Blankenship couldn’t prove that those calling him a “felon” did it maliciously.  

COPE endorsed neither Republican Governor Jim Justice nor Congressman Alex Mooney, the two viable candidates seeking the GOP Senate nod.

Also rans in the Senate race include Republicans Brian Bird, Zane Lawhorn, Don Lindsay, Bryan McKinney and Janet McNulty; and Democrat Zachary Shrewsbury.

In the Secretary of State contest, COPE favors recent Democrat Minority Leader turned Republican Doug Skaff, Jr. 

Also seeking the GOP nomination are former Delegate Ken Reed, ex-State Republican party Chair and Trump appointee Kris Warner and Putnam County Clerk Brian Wood.

Charleston lawyer Thornton Cooper is the lone Democrat for SOS.


For Attorney General, labor takes no position in the Republican primary between State Auditor JB McCuskey and State Senator Mike Stuart.

On the Democrat AG side, they’re supporting firebrand Teresa Toriseva of Wheeling. She would surely change the tone of the office and make an excellent AG. I’d have no difficulty supporting her.

In the non-partisan race for a term on the Intermediate Court they’re endorsing Ryan White.

As we get space, we’ll look at some of their legislative recommendations.

* * * * * *

With the proliferation of “news and gossip” sites all over the internet, there may be more transparency but it’s also easier to spread vicious half-truths and out-and-out lies.

This is especially true when the site insists on anonymity.

Last week was particularly overwhelmed by the rumors and storylines in Cabell and Mingo counties.


One whisper that became a roar In Mingo last week involved County Commissioner Diann Hannah and her family. She is, naturally, a candidate for re-election this year.

That last tidbit likely explains why anyone is concerned about Hannah’s private family business.

One common thread this story has is that it involves a race track. It seems every Mingo election I’ve covered centers on a race track somehow. We’ve all seen the ground broken for a race track so many times off Corridor G (US 119), there’s nothing more to break.

We’ve seen crowds at County Commission meetings demanding race tracks where the Commission has no authority to establish them. We’ve heard usually law-abiding citizens threaten to demolish gates and fences to get to a potential race location.

One might surmise from all this history that Mingo is a county in need of a race track.

Maybe, just maybe … the Hannahs, being wise business people, understand that need.

In any event, someone may have borrowed some information from the Secretary of State’s office that wasn’t ready for prime time.

Regardless, a piece of paper came to be public domain in Mingo, perhaps before its time.


On the paper was purported to be the application for a limited liability company. It also listed those involved with the company.

Trace Creek Leasing, LLC listed Diann Hannah as a member along with other mostly family members.

From these little grains of salt came the salty  rumor that the Hannahs are preparing to open a race track. That, according to some, is why they want no other and why Diann Hannah opposes any county help for such tracks.

The truth, according to Mrs. Hannah, is that she and her family are well-known developers. A potential investor has said he will lease the property and locate a motor sports complex there. 

“He has four wheelers and dirt bikes,” she said.

Throughout, Diann Hannah emphasized that “no deal is written in stone.”

Asked if, rather than criticizing the proposal, people should recognize the economic development potential, she responded, “I suppose they could.”

Hannah emphasized, “all anybody would have had to do was ask me what was going on and I would have told them.”


Alas, many a wonderful piece of gossip has been ruined when the truth becomes known.

So, it doesn’t appear that a Commissioner is somehow taking advantage of her position for personal gain at the expense of the taxpayers.

Perhaps the investigation should end.

“Let’s be clear,” she said. “The Hannahs don’t want to run a race track and we’re not going to run a race track.”

* * * * * *

Among other Mingo items being circulated last week was a smiling photo of disgraced former Mingo Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury and his main squeeze, Audrey Smith.

Smith, the widow of the late County Commissioner Gavin Smith, is the ex-judge’s candidate for Assessor.

Those who vote for Smith are inviting the Thornsbury reign of terror back to the courthouse.


Did you like living where illicit drugs were planted on your vehicle and then you were arrested and charged with possession? Return these folks to power.  They’ve shown you what they’re capable of doing and you’re just asking for more.

* * * * * *

There was also a photo of former County Commissioner David Baisden in my Mingo packet.

Now, I will write for one and all to see and hear that I think Baisden got a raw deal from those who prosecuted him.

I think Baisden is a reasonable, fair man who was misled.

Not everyone at the Mingo courthouse is – or has been – crooks. Dave Baisden is not.

* * * * * *

Current Circuit Judge Miki Thompson is another relic of the old dirty Mingo courthouse that allegedly got cleaned out.


Finish the job by electing Bethany Goad-Cisco as Assessor and Sabrina Deskins as Circuit Judge. Give Thompson and Smith/Thornsbury their permanent retirement papers.

That will be a better Mingo County.

* * * * * *

Speaking of Judge Thompson, she appropriately managed to make the Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse “Dirty Dozen.”

The conservative legal reform group has issued its list of candidates whose campaigns have accepted the most money from personal injury attorneys. 

Many in Mingo may plead poverty, but there’s no reason for Thompson to. She ranked ninth on this list.

You figure she’s fair and impartial to all?

Remember, as I mentioned a few weeks ago when she shook down the local bar membership to remodel her courtroom?


* * * * * *

Kanawha County Chief Sheriff’s Deputy Joey Crawford has received the endorsement of a local Fraternal Order of Police organization in his quest to become Sheriff.

The St. Albans FOP Red Dragon Lodge Number 88 announced the support recently.

“My family and I are proud to call St. Albans home,” Crawford said in accepting the endorsement.

“It was an honor to serve the citizens of St. Albans for 28 years as an officer for the St. Albans Police Department,” he continued. “It was an even greater honor to serve as Chief of Police during nine of those years.”

Crawford added, “During my tenure, we were able to take drugs off the street, decrease the city’s crime rate, purchase updated equipment, and secure funding to build a new police station.”

The Chief Deputy pledged, “As your next Sheriff, I will continue my work to keep St. Albans and the surrounding areas a safe place to live, work, and raise a family.”

He said it is “an honor” to receive the FOP endorsement. Crawford also thanked the public for their support during his years of public service. 


* * * * * *

Hampshire County Republican Delegate Larry Kump has told constituents that he will be reintroducing legislation in 2025 to toughen penalties for vehicular homicide in the state.

He said he was encouraged to continue his fight by Speaker Roger Hanshaw.

Kump has previously cited a vehicular death where he believes the maximum penalty was much too light.

Kump is unopposed in this year’s election.

* * * * * *

A meet and greet for GOP Attorney General candidate Mike Stuart is set for Monday, April 29, at the First Baptist of Inwood. Hours are 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

* * * * * *


Sometimes I wonder how insulting the intelligence of voters is supposed to be a method of capturing votes..

If I thought Mingo Countians were as stupid as Republican County Commission candidate Marty Fortner does, I’d keep it to myself and hope they didn’t figure it out.

First off, I don’t think Mingo Countians are dumb. Some of the brightest people I’ve ever seen have held office in Mingo.

When John Mark Hubbard, Mike Carter and Greg “Hootie” Smith were among county Commissioners, there weren’t more honest, smarter or fairer Commissioners around.

The taxpayers are well served now by Diann Hannah. She is honest, fair and transparent.

I can’t say as much for the other two current members. There will be little, if any, progress in Mingo as long as Thomas Taylor and Nathan Brown hold the majority. 

* * * * * *

Conservative Policy Action has endorsed legislative candidates.


They favor JB Akers (House District 56): Andrew Anderson (HD-56); Trenton Barnhart (HD-9); Eric Brooks (HD-45); Adam Burkhammer (HD-64); Jarred Cannon (HD-21); Geno Chiarelli (HD-78); Thomas Clark (HD-48); Michael DeVault (HD-74); Lori Cowger Dittman (HD-63); Marty Gearheart (HD-37); S. David Green (HD-36); Summer Hartley (HD-80); Michael Hite (HD-92); Josh Holstein (HD-32); Mike Homby (HD-93); Chuck Horst (HD-95); Gary Howell (HD-87); Dean Jeffries (HD-61); and Jonathan Kyle (HD-66).

On the Senate side, they favor five incumbents. They are: Amy Nichole Grady (Senate District-4); Rupie Phillips (SD-7); Jack David Woodrum (SD-10); Patrick Martin (SD-12) and. Randy Smith (SD-14).

“Their dedication to conservative values and West Virginia’s prosperity is exactly what our state needs for a brighter future,” said spokesperson Matthew Parker. “Let’s support leaders committed to making a real difference.”

* * * * * *

Republican Secretary of State candidate Doug Skaff Jr. was in the Northern Panhandle at week’s end to accept the endorsement of former Congressman David McKinley.

The Congressman retired after losing the 2022 GOP nomination when he and fellow Republican Alex Mooney were thrown into the same Congressional district. Many longtime GOP members are baffled that McKinley would support the former Democrat, but forget that he and Manchin joined forces against conservative Mooney.

* * * * * *

I was trained as a sports writer, so it’s fascinating to speculate on who may be the new coach of the Logan Wildcat boys basketball team.


With Jeff Williamson stepping down after just one successful season, speculation turned to the possible return of iconic Coach Mark Hatcher.

Hatcher and legendary skipper Willie Akers helped make Logan one of the top programs in the country.

My son, Chay, had the privilege of playing for Hatcher. That team lost in the championship to Wyoming East.

Here’s hoping Hatcher returns to the Wildcat bench.

* * * * * *

The Governor Jim Justice endorsement of Republican Moore Capito for Governor is the icing on the cake of his nomination.

With Capito’s much-beloved mother, U.S. Senator Shelley Moore hitting the campaign trail with her son, the famous words of Porky Pig come to mind.

“That’s all, folks.”


* * * * * *

The Justice support for Capito brought howls of protest from Mac Warner. Although he is typically lagging fourth for the GOP Governor nomination, he issued a scathing press release and acted as though the endorsement represented the biggest conspiracy of the century.

If Warner was not expecting Justice to back Capito, he’s likely the only politician in the state who wasn’t.

We outlined here six months ago how political consultant supreme Larry Puccio would put the support together.

There’s no evidence, though, that Puccio worked through his old friend, Democrat U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, to cut a deal for Justice to recommend Moore Capito.

If possible, there’s even less proof of Warner’s claim that Capito’s mother, Republican Shelley Moore Capito, was involved in some backdoor wheeling and dealing.

“Longtime WV Republicans are concerned about the Capito connection to Puccio and Manchin,” Warner wrote. “The Capito family has been negotiating with Puccio for months to get Justice to publicly endorse Moore Capito for Governor. What did Capito have to trade to get the endorsement?”

Secretary Warner’s questions may invoke a response from his base, but will do little to gain votes.


  • 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.