EDITORIAL: Is the Special Election Tailored for a Republican Victory?

EDITORIAL: Is the Special Election Tailored for a Republican Victory?

West Virginia Republicans have seen their once marginalized party make some significant strides in that past fifteen years, starting with Cecil Underwood's election in 1996 to the Governor's Mansion.

While Underwood failed to win re-election against Bob Wise in 2000, that year was a banner year otherwise for the WV GOP, as West Virginia voters gave George W. Bush the five electoral votes he needed to become President.  West Virginia also voted Republican again for Bush in 2004, cementing its status as a developing "red state" for national election purposes. 

 

Meantime, a Kanawha County Delegate with a famous father, Shelley Moore Capito, rode Bush's coattails that year to Congress, where she has remained for now ten years.  And to beat all, West Virginia Republicans saw one of their own, Brent Benjamin, become the first Republican elected to a full twelve-year term on the State Supreme Court in many decades.

What accounts for this new openness to Republican candidates?  And how might it affect this year's Special Election for Governor?

West Virginia, taken as a whole, is a difficult state to define politically.  While each section has its own ideological biases, generally the average West Virginia voter in both parties wants their state leaders to possess a certain degree of fiscal discipline along with a laser-like focus on job creation.

This may account for some of the popularity of Joe Manchin among average West Virginia voters. As Governor, he held the line on at least some excessive spending and at least talked a good game about being "Open for Business."

But voters may want more action and less talk now.  They still want the same thing out of their Governors and legislators, but with every passing year that our economy doesn't improve, West Virginians get restless.  More than rhetoric and empty phrases are needed to earn our votes.  We want to see plans, and plans based on real-world experience, not copied and pasted from some textbook.

Of the nearly ten candidates in both parties who may be running for Governor this year, only two of them have ever really built up a business in West Virginia. Both of them are Republicans:  State Senator Clark Barnes and Greer Industries CEO John Raese.  They've met payrolls, wrestled with the business climate here, and have had responsibility for their employees.

The other candidates might make fine Governors in a state that didn't need the experience of an entrepreneur in the Governor's office.  But West Virginia's economy is its future, and without a keen sense of business development at the top of our state government right now, our future is in jeopardy.

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