EDITORIAL: As Predicted, Ireland’s Endorsement a No-Go for Local Farm Bureaus

HNN Staff
EDITORIAL: As Predicted, Ireland’s Endorsement a No-Go for Local Farm Bureaus

A couple of weeks ago, we predicted in this space that the West Virginia Farm Bureau’s decision to endorse Republican gubernatorial candidate would not sit well with many of the rank and file members of that esteemed statewide organization.

Not surprisingly, we are now hearing that several local Farm Bureaus are disregarding their state organization’s odd decision. In fact, some of them have become emphatic in their own decision to not support Ireland.

This has been a perfect example of overreach by the state leadership of the West Virginia Farm Bureau. Before this decision was made, the average member of the West Virginia Farm Bureau probably had no opinion of Betty Ireland one way or the other. She had served a single term as Secretary of State but rarely impacted their lives otherwise. She is a longtime Charleston resident with little interaction or advocacy for farm families.

Still, most Farm Bureau members statewide might have been openminded about Ireland, as they would be for any candidate –that is, until she had been pushed on them by the State Farm Bureau’s leadership for reasons that were murky.

However, the State Farm Bureau’s decision may not be as cloudy as formerly. Delegate Woody Ireland (R-Ritchie), a relative of Betty Ireland’s, serves in the leadership of the State Farm Bureau and is listed on the organization’s website as a Region Six Alternate Director.

Some local Farm Bureau members around the state are suggesting that Delegate Ireland should have stayed clear of any deliberations on this endorsement, given his family relationship to Betty Ireland. So the appearance seems to be that Delegate Ireland may have had a lot to do with the selection of Betty Ireland by the State Farm Bureau. Few other rational explanations exist for this strange development from an organization whose endorsement in GOP primaries is coveted.

If this bit of home cooking is true, Republicans beyond the Farm Bureau members may decide that this is an old-fashioned game of politics that might make Logan County Democratic leaders blush. In short, it smells.

Betty Ireland getting the Farm Bureau endorsement was never a convincing fit for anyone outside the State Farm Bureau’s inner circle. When the State Farm Bureau begins to act as political as the old-boy networks of the State Democratic Party, then local Farm Bureaus have every right to do their own thing, without regard for what the State Farm Bureau has to say.

Reportedly, this is exactly what the local Farm Bureaus are doing. Many of them are wiping the Betty Ireland endorsement off their feet and moving on to someone else. In the end, the State Farm Bureau’s attempt at clever, backroom politics hasn’t helped Betty Ireland’s sagging candidacy at all. In fact, with the timing of this controversy coming when the Governor’s race heats up in earnest, this “endorsement” appears to have damaged Ireland’s campaign significantly.

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