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EDITORIAL: Former Marshall Student Body President Embodies West Virginia Political Shift in State Senate Race
He ran as a conservative Democrat, of whom there are many in West Virginia.
Over two decades later, Mike Queen is now running for State Senate from Harrison, Lewis, Braxton, and Clay Counties, with a slice of Gilmer. His pro-business, pro-coal, pro-education views haven't changed. Neither have his pro-life and anti-gambling expansion perspectives.
Only one thing has changed in Mike Queen beyond the seasoning that comes with raising a child, developing successful small businesses, and serving as President of the Harrison County Board of Education. What is that one thing?
Mike Queen, until now a lifelong conservative Democrat, is now a registered Republican.
As such, his race this year takes on added statewide significance. As Queen himself says, "If I win, I will be the first of many other conservative Democrats to come over to the West Virginia Republican Party."
As the last several Presidential elections have shown, West Virginia has become an increasingly "red" state, at least for federal elections. In addition to voting for the GOP's Presidential nominees, Republicans have seen Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito win seven straight and decisive victories for the Second Congressional District seat.
The WV GOP have added a second Representative to D.C. in First District Congressman David McKinley. Other victories like Brent Benjamin and Allen Loughry winning full twelve year terms on the State Supreme Court have been heartening to Republicans, as well.
But Queen's race for State Senate in a traditionally Democratic area of the state will determine whether the long sought two-party system is finally taking root at the local and regional level.
Queen is nothing if not a former strategist and consultant. He knows his name recognition after several years of service on the Harrison County school board helps him, as does his family being well-liked in the area. Queen also sees a difficult outcome for whomever comes out of a potentially bruising Democratic State Senate primary this year.
But more than that, Mike Queen's party change and run for the State Senate demonstrates that many Democrats are so fed up with the liberal policies of Barack Obama and the national Democratic Party that they simply needed a new political home.
What with the Obama Administration's harsh policies towards coal, a weak national defense posture, an Obamacare health care plan that was ill-conceived, and a languishing national economy, many West Virginia voters are seriously weighing their options, just as they have done with their Presidential choices in the last several elections.
A victory for Mike Queen this November will not only give fresh leadership to those Central West Virginia counties he would serve. Such a win would signal a genuine change towards real competition and balance in West Virginia politics.
That change can't come soon enough.