EDITORIAL: Maloney's Money Can't Buy the WV GOP

HNN Staff
EDITORIAL:  Maloney's Money Can't Buy the WV GOP

West Virginia's voters have been up for sale in times past, though usually the efforts to buy an election, legal and illegal, have been on the Democratic side.   Jay Rockefeller certainly altered traditional West Virginia politics forever by spending obscene amounts of money in order to convince his party that he was one of them.   Now another New York native, Bill Maloney, appears to be attempting the same thing with the state's Republican Party.  But can this strategy work with the Party of Lincoln?

An examination of Maloney's recent campaign finance report shows a man who is willing to loan his campaign $500,000 in an abbreviated special election primary.  Maloney's campaign has certainly been good for Morgantown landlords, office supply stores, and other suppliers, along with many opportunists associated with the political culture in West Virginia.

They know a large Thanksgiving turkey when they see one.

But what has Maloney gotten for all of his money?

That's a debatable question, one whose answer we won't know until after May 14th.  But thus far, there is no Maloney wave statewide.  Far from it. Conventional wisdom would suggest that a candidate like Maloney, whose TV ads have been up longer than his other competitors, should have more to show for his expensive media campaign.  But in a check with Lincoln Day Dinner attendees from around the state, who are among the most likely Republican voters, the reaction is almost always the same:  "Nice guy, but no real vision or energy."

This has been the same reaction to Maloney from start to finish in this year's Republican mashed potato circuit.  Some ask openly if Maloney just needed something to do after retiring early from his drilling business.

Now, to be fair, this is Maloney's first political rodeo.  He would have to be an extraordinary individual to give a stump speech as well as, say, State Senator Clark Barnes, former Secretary of State Betty Ireland, or Delegate Mitch Carmichael.   Those folks have had years to hone their craft.

But the truth remains that Maloney's content and delivery on the Lincoln Day circuit this year, as well as in public debates, have been quite nearly lifeless.  His talking points sound like they have been photocopied out of a Republican National Committee handbook, rather than any kind of real application of conservative beliefs to real life.

For those who haven't been to a Lincoln Day Dinner this year, think back to your high school days when a substitute teacher was in charge of your class.  The substitute didn't always understand the teaching plan that the regular teacher had left, so they just read the instructions and hoped somehow that would engage you.  Invariably, the substitute was soon ignored by the class.

In short, Maloney's outlay of hundreds of thousands of dollars has not given him the boost he has needed to be taken seriously in this campaign. Take away Maloney's cash, and he's vying for last place in this contest.

For years, the one thing Republicans could console themselves with during Jay Rockefeller's tenure as Governor and U.S. Senator was the fact that they had not been bought like so many Democrats by the multi-millionaire from New York.  That resistance is a proud part of the WV GOP's heritage.

As a result, it is highly unlikely that these same Republicans are going to be seduced by a stale TV campaign and an uninspired candidate.

Money and plastic talking points do not a Republican West Virginia Governor make.



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