HNN 2011 SPECIAL ELECTION ANALYSIS: Jack Ellis Assesses the Democratic Field for Governor

HNN Staff

With six Democratic candidates vying to be West Virginia’s next Democratic nominee for Governor, Democratic primary voters may be hard pressed to decide whom they like best.

Most of the names will be familiar to those who follow state government: Acting Governor and State Senate President Earl Ray Tomblin, Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, State Treasurer John Perdue, House Speaker Rick Thompson, State Senator Jeff Kessler, and Arne Moltis make up this year’s Democratic field.

“Interestingly, in West Virginia politics, the people seem to give their elected

officials a free shot when it comes to any attempt to hop up to another, higher

office,” said Jack Ellis, HNN’s Senior Political Analyst. “Look at how many

of the state’s top Democratic leadership obviously want a different job. But

if they lose, it’s no skin off their back and nobody seems to mind.”

But Ellis maintains that the public does disagree with some campaign tactics

by elected officials who are running for Governor.

“We’ve seen it a thousand times, but it still irks, this use of the taxpayers’ money to fuel a personal political campaign,” said Ellis. “I suppose Attorney General Darrell McGraw is the King of the Trinkets, but between State Treasurer John Perdue or Secretary of State Natalie Tennant putting their name and face on taxpayer-paid information, I think they’re giving old Darrell a run for his money—I mean our money— this year.”

“The public doesn’t like being abused like that, and I think the more that the word gets out that Tennant and Perdue are using our money for their campaign purposes, the more they’re going to take a serious knock on election day,” said Ellis.

“Likewise, Acting Governor Tomblin would be wise not to use the state plane more than absolutely necessary, because you’re talking about thousands of dollars for one trip and back to Charleston,” said Ellis. “If people get the impression that Tomblin can’t handle the privileges of being Governor now, they sure won’t reward him with a fresh four year term this year. Personally, I think we could just rent out a private plane when needed for the Governor—no need to have two or three private planes, paid for by the state. It’s waste.”

“Then you have State Senator Kessler and House Speaker Rick Thompson,”

said Ellis. “How might they disappoint us when it comes to stewardship of the state’s funds while running for Governor? For one thing, they can quit authoring those liberal spending bills as both love to do. It’s time everyone became a little more fiscal conservative these days.

“Simply put, the public will not stand for someone throwing their money down a rathole these days, with money as tight as it is on the homefront,” said Ellis. “So Thompson and Kessler would be well-advised to cool their big spending jets during this legislative session if they’re serious about running for Governor.”

“That leaves us with Arne Moltis, and we can only hope that Arne hasn’t been unduly affecting by the legislature’s spending ways during his time in Kanawha County,” said Ellis. “Surely Arne, of all people, will keep the financial status of our state uppermost in mind as he goes through this campaign.”