EDITORIAL: Honest Conversations Needed for State GOP

HNN Staff
EDITORIAL:  Honest Conversations Needed for State GOP

Mike Stuart, the energetic Chairman of the State Republican Party, gamely announced after Bill Maloney's GOP primary victory for Governor that the Party of Lincoln in West Virginia was as unified as it had ever been.   Just two weeks later, the Charleston Daily Mail's Ry Rivard has written a story that tells another story altogether.

In Monday's Daily Mail, Rivard's story leads with the headline, "Ireland Skipping Republican Event," and it all goes downhill from there.   Not only is Maloney's top primary rival not attending a "unity breakfast" sponsored by the State GOP today, but Ireland spokesperson, Suzette Raines, dropped another bomb on the Maloney camp in the Rivard article. 

"We've encouraged Betty's supporters to move on and support any candidate they like," said Ireland spokeswoman Suzette Raines. "I can tell you we've had a flood of calls and emails about the things that were done against Betty in the primary. People are very upset, which has not been perpetuated by Betty or the campaign staff - at all."

Some Ireland supporters, on their own initiative, have apparently defected to the Tomblin camp, so upset are they at the treatment given the former Secretary of State. Maloney's campaign conducted an effective, if unnecessary, negative TV ad campaign against Ireland in the last weeks of the campaign.  We say "unnecessary," as the margin of Maloney's victory was substantial, indicating that the negative attack ads hurled at Ireland in the last weeks were overkill. 

In football parlance, Maloney ran up the score on Ireland, who didn't have remaining funds to defend herself towards the end. Now Maloney and Company appear to be paying a stiff price for this tactic instead of relying on Maloney's otherwise positive message throughout the campaign. 

Party unity has oftentimes been elusive in party politics in West Virginia.  Whenever two main rivals for a nomination have emerged, in either party, bloodletting has often followed.  

But winning candidates err when they think that they can appease the public just by making up publicly with their opponent, as was clearly the hope of State GOP Chairman Mike Stuart and his "unity breakfast."   Except for a handful of party activists, the public doesn't care whether Bill Maloney and Betty Ireland get together and sing "Reunited" like Peaches and Herb at a GOP function. 

Rather, what we care about is the spectacle of any candidate, Democratic, Republican, or something in between, making a vulgar display to show us how badly they lust for office.  To coin the Pritt campaign in 1996, "How low will you go, Joe?"

The Maloney campaign can't expect the odor of their kneecap hit on Betty Ireland to go away anytime soon.  They won the primary with streetfighting, while Earl Ray Tomblin, for all his numerous other faults, was able to sail into the general election season looking like a gentleman, even--if you can believe it--a statesman.

The only way the Maloney campaign can claw their way back to respectability is to apologize for their behavior towards their fellow Republicans.  That will take honest conversations, not breezy, hurried expectations of endorsements.   Maloney is the one who needs Ireland and others now.  When he starts to think of others instead of just himself, perhaps he'll start to make some headway--not just with those he's defeated but with the public in general.

Humility got a smartalecky lawyer from Springfield, Illinois a long way at about midlife.  This rare virtue works wonders for everyone who tries it and means it.

But you do have to mean it.

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