Woe, despair and agony on me. I try to keep up, but some weeks are just more fruitful than others … anyway, since you already know the news, let me give you my view of the impact of the stories out here in the hinterlands.
Rockefeller’s Coal Speech Biggest Impact
US Senator Jay Rockefeller blasts the coal industry, lauds EPA read numerous headlines after his June 20th Senate speech (full text) and might foreshadow one of the most significant West Virginia policy debates in memory not to mention the pure politics of it all. Coal association president Bill Raney responded that the remarks were “disappointing and discouraging” as did WV Chamber President Steve Roberts who reportedly answered his phone, “This is Capito for United States Senate headquarters.” Meanwhile, Rockefeller’s former press secretary, Mark Ferrell spun the speech as saying, … “it’s time to begin thinking differently about how we’re make the future of coal viable …”
However, Politico’s Charlie Mahtesian may have encapsulated the real political news when he said, “Now we know the first open Senate race of 2014: Jay Rockefeller’s West Virginia seat.” Mahtesian went on to write, “Already the subject of speculation that he will not run for a sixth term in two years when he will be 77, Rockefeller’s stunning coal-industry-needs-to-face-reality speech Wednesday seemed to confirm the rumors.”
So, what’s a “people” in West Virginia to think? Me and Mator feel like this is heady stuff like when two guys in junior high are gonna fight in the alley at noon … most importantly we think our Senators need to get it on and appear together to explain their positions … perhaps Hoppy Kercheval could work this out?
It’d be bigger than a WVU v. Marshall football game … or it’d be our equivalent of Ali and Frazier’s famous Thrilla in Manila … or Bobby Riggs v. Billy Jean King for you really old people … and it’d also mark the first time ever that the Republican wing of the Democrat party could seriously debate the Democratic wing … come’on Hoppy, make it so!
Convention Skip Not a Big Deal: Get Over It
Mator says that the skipping of the Democrat National Convention by US Senator Joe Manchin, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin and Representative Nick Rahall is interesting and a definite rebuke to Obama but the President Obama fan club has few members out here anyway, except for Democrat save-facers (state chair Larry Puccio and Treasurer John Perdue come to mind). And it’s also obvious to Mator that the Manchin-Tomblin hedge on voting for the president means they’re not gonna. Mator understands this because he feels the same dang way. Here’s the interesting part: he thinks Republicans should say “hoo rah” but then get on with important things like giving him a reason to vote for them.
In short, he’s awakened to the “Obama effect.” He’s paying attention. But what he hears from Republicans is what he hears from his wife when she pulls out his “permanent record card.” Again and again, he hears, “You didn’t do this so what you really means is this …” He wants Republicans John Raese and Bill Maloney to tell him why he should vote for them; not just why he shouldn’t vote for the other guy.
Now, the Gazette’s Phil Kabler says he’s figured out Maloney’s Obama fixation. In short, he thinks Maloney is trying to break Governor Tomblin’s hold on five southern counties of Boone, Lincoln, Logan, Mingo and Wyoming. Maloney ran even with Tomblin in the last election everywhere but lost in the south. So, if he connects Tomblin with Obama, he can tip the scales and win.
My thinking is that, if this is true then continue working on tying the Governor to the President. But, they need to be aware of the “last war” syndrome. Just because one got votes in the other 50 counties last time doesn’t mean he will this time. Political advisors and pollsters probably know a lot more than I do, but based on the observations of me and ole Mator, there needs to be reasons to vote for someone, not just reasons to vote against the other guy. Have to play offense as well as defense in order to win.
Here’s a Reason to Vote for Maloney: Routers
A front page story by Eric Eyre in today’s Sunday Gazette-Mail reports Planning agencies refuse to use expensive routers. That Gazette is like a dog with a bone when it comes to stories like this and why Republicans don’t seem to be capitalizing on it is beyond me and Mator. Part of the article reads, “West Virginia has spent more than $450,000 from a $126.3 million federal stimulus grant to purchase routers and lay fiber to 10 of the state’s 11 regional planning offices. However, not a single regional agency has opted to use the routers or connect to the fiber, according to planning council executives.” As far as I can tell, the Governor as well as candidate Maloney have been largely silent on this simple issue that casts doubt on the administration’s fiscal conservatism.
I’m sure that there are other issues as well that could cause separation such as the Governor’s support of Prevailing Wages. It’s not just an “againer” game and a lot of Maloney supporters feel this way.
Republican Heavyweights Campaign for Maloney
Governors Rick Perry of Texas and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana campaigned for Bill Maloney last week in two separate fund raising events. Good move on raising cash for the campaign, but not a big mover in the hinterlands as for reasons to vote for the gubernatorial candidate. Least that’s the feeling from here.
State Democrat Platform got an overhaul in their recent state convention and the Republican party will start it’s process this coming week Complete text of platform. Biggest news from the convention was the insistence that all Democrat candidates support President Obama which was then promptly ignored by their US Senator Joe Manchin, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin and their only incumbent Congressman Nick Rahall. Judy Wagoner, writing in the Charleston Daily Mail asked, What are the Democrats really saying?
Walters Political Family Grows Business
Charleston Daily Mail ran a very complimentary feature story on the Walters family business. Delegate Ron Walters (current 32nd Delegate and running for re-election in the new 39th) founded R. N. Walters & Associates, a Charleston property and casualty insurance, employee benefits and financial services business that has developed a niche business in structured settlements. In November, son Chris Walters will face Democrat Joshua Martin in the race for the state Senate seat in the 8th District, which extends from Buffalo in Putnam County to Rand and up to Clendenin.
Political Tactic of the Week
Speaking of Senate candidate Chris Walters, I’m awarding him my “Political Tactic of the Week” award. I noticed a stack of his cards at the Sissonville Go Mart which were dead-on audience appropriate. Instead of the typical WVU and/or Marshall schedules, Chris printed the West Virginia’s 2012 Hunting Schedule. Don’t know if you know it but there are 26 different hunting seasons this year plus one continuous (skunks, opossums, woodchucks, weasels, English Sparrows, European Starlings and Pigeons). I note that the super bowl of hunting, deer season, opens September 12th if you didn’t know already. Congrats Chris. Someone else may have done this but this is the first time I’ve seen it and your message got through to me and ole Mator …..
Also in the news . . .
Hino Manufacturing announced they are expanding truck production here to the tune of $6 million which will create at least 20 new full-time jobs by the end of the year.
State announced that a Governor’s Task Force will study switching state vehicles from gasoline to natural gas.
A Kanawha County Schools painter made more in overtime than teacher in entire year.
US Supreme Court may soon decide whether to hear redistricting case.
Volunteer Fire Departments lacking critical resources
While I’m giving out awards, I would be remiss without presenting my “Flexibility” award to Democrat state party chairman Larry Puccio. Just think. He has had to reconcile his party’s demand that all candidates support the president with the defection of his top three elected officials. Then US Senator Jay Rockefeller openly split with Senator Joe Manchin with his coal speech. Yup. He’s been the busiest politician in West Virginia this week it appears to me. So, to Larry Puccio goes our “Flexible: what they meant to say” award. Congratulations but something tells me you’d just rather have not earned it … as I said, some weeks are more fruitful than others.
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As always, I invite your comments, criticisms and concerns. You may reach me by responding to this email or by calling my cell phone at (304) 541-3714. Finally, one thing that I will definitely promise is my opinions won’t be rehashes of anyone’s talking points. My goal is to express an independent view that will help all of us in West Virginia move forward.