Last updated: August 14. 2013 5:13AM - 4231 Views

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Although it is obvious to those of us who know the long-ago facts, one reason Shelley Moore Capito avoids meaningful Democrat opposition in next year’s election appears to escape most state voters and pundits.


When a retired politician asked me last week why state Democrats cannot muster a strong candidate to challenge the Republican Capito, I replied with the apparent answer. “Because none of them think they can possibly beat her,” I said.


And, largely, I believe that answer is true. But he opined, “ah, but there is a second reason. Don’t you know what it is?”


I fumbled for an answer, finally saying, “Well, why don’t YOU tell me the second reason.”


He tested me. “What about Arch and the Manchins?” he asked.


Bingo! I had the SECOND reason the current Congresswoman, soon to be United States senator, does not even have a weak challenger on the horizon. The Moore-Manchin connection absolutely lives! My caller agreed and took it a bit further than I might have, unprompted.


I said, “Oh yeah, I have always told anyone who asks that Shelley CANNOT run against Joe and vice versa because of the bond between the two families. I know all about Arch giving A. James (Manchin) a job when he desperately needed it ‘way back when.”


My politician agreed that it was “Bingo.” But he went on. “Why does the Democrat party organization not care if Shelley has any real opponent?” he asked. This was becoming a test of my knowledge, I suppose. Everyone knows I am so knowledgeable it’s scary.


“Hmmn,” I responded. “Because Manchin is still in charge of the state party organization,” I said. “Not Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, but Senator Manchin.” It was once again a “Bingo.”


He continued, “And what all does that entail?” This guy was once a teacher, I assume.


That one I stumbled on for a minute or so. “Larry Puccio,” he shouted. “Puccio is Manchin’s puppet and he’s still the state party chair. Manchin wants to no opponent for Shelley and, thus, Puccio and the party organization do not want a candidate that will challenge her.”


As I said, my friend was a bit stronger on it than I might have been and drew additional conclusions that I might not have gotten to. Still, rest assured, dear readers, the Manchins and the Moores will never be opponents in politics. Manchin might be Democrat and Capito Republican, but never will the tie be broken. Remember, you read it here if nowhere else.


* * * * * *


The Second District Congressional seat that Capito is about to give up to be a Senator is drawing all sorts of interest on the GOP side. While attorney and former state Democrat Party Chair Nick Casey seems to have the Democrat nod locked up, most see the Republican side as wide open.


To that end, Ron Walters Jr. was scheduled to announce his GOP candidacy Tuesday morning at the Poca Boat Launch in Putnam County. Walters is the son of current Republican Delegate Ron Walters and brother of State Senator Chris Walters. A political dynasty in the making? Apparently.


Can you imagine sitting down to the Walters Thanksgiving feast and having a Delegate, a Senator and a Congressman?


Then, current Kanawha County Delegate Suzette Raines told me she is “99.7 percent” sure she will run for the same seat. Of course, Charlotte Lane and former legislator Steve Harrison have already filed pre-candidacy papers.


Which leads me to this opinion: if enough Kanawha Countians decide to run for the Republican nomination, someone from the state’s Eastern Panhandle will sweep to the nomination.


* * * * * *


The saga of Wendy Elswick, former candidate for appointment to the vacant House seat of Josh Stowers, continues. It is interesting that I likely would never have even looked at Elswick’s background if she and husband, Family Court Judge Scott Elswick, had not decided to try to land her a seat in the state legislature. Sometimes, sleeping dogs are best left alone.


Anyway, I now have in my hands most of the paperwork involving Elswick’s Board of Disciplinary Council problems. The findings of the BDC read like a nasty paperback novel. The email messages between Elswick and Tommy Lee Sells, a Texas death row inmate, are unbelievable. Among other things, Sells and Elswick had an email exchange in which he stated his preference to be cremated when he is executed. He then gave graphic directions to Elswick as to how his ashes should be “handled.” Suffice it to say no adult novel writer ever came up with a more ridiculous and degrading premise. But it appears that Elswick enjoyed such communication with the inmate.


The person convicted of two Cabin Creek murders in the 1990s, Dana December Smith, continues to fight and insists he is innocent. Elswick represented him at one time, as a Public Defender attorney. She now practices law as an assistant attorney general in the office of Patrick Morrisey. She was originally employed by Darrell McGraw.


Suffice it to say, I will continue to monitor this situation and report it as new information becomes available. And, if any reader wants to read some gross testimony and is “of age,” I would consider allowing him or her to see it. I don’t know why, however, anyone would want to. It’s that bad.


* * * * * *


Nick Joe Rahall has been rated by most national pundits as a “likely” re-elected congressman. The Democrat, who is a genuine public servant, will possibly be facing former Democrat-turned-Republican Evan Jenkins in 2014. Apparently, the national pros agree with my observation that Jenkins is a weak candidate. Rahall will mop up the floor with him.


* * * * * *


The confusing tale of Lincoln County union organizer and School Board member Gary McCallister also continues.


McCallister was also a candidate to replace Stowers from the 22nd Delegate District.


A year ago when I, a fellow member of the Lincoln Public Service District Board, asked McCallister if he could serve on the School Board, he told me that he had gotten the “green light” from the state Ethics Commission to do so. McCallister was clear and concise: the Ethics Commission said he could serve on both boards.


Not so, says Ethics Director Joan Parker. “We were never asked and we would NEVER have given that answer because it is contrary to state law,” said Parker last week.


She then cited Section 18-5-3(A) (1) of the State Code as proof. It seems clear: “a candidate for a county board who is not currently serving on a county board, may hold another public office while a candidate if he or she resigns from the other public office prior to taking the oath of office as a county board member.”


Thus and so, in addition to a requirement that now, at least, McCallister must resign from either the School Board or the PSD Board, it appears he broke the law when he took his oath of office as a School Board member. McCallister was clearly a member of the Lincoln PSD, defined by the Ethics Commission as a “public office” when he took the oath. In fact, McCallister had been on the PSD Board for several months prior to taking the oath.


If the Code prohibits McCallister from taking his oath without resigning from the PSD, the question is whether his membership on the School Board is legitimate. While nobody may ever challenge it, I would guess a court of law would say “no.”


* * * * * *


Since one reader who must be at the minimum a Tea Partier insists I “lean to the left” on everything, I COULD reiterate that I am a 100 percent Sarah Palin supporter. I believe the last great President was Ronald Reagan.


On the other hand, I am not about to toe the right-wing line when it is WRONG. The Second Amendment does not say every idiot in the country has a right to have a gun in his or her home. Gay marriage is just as legitimate as any other. I think marijuana should be legalized as well as prostitution.


But I am a Republican; always have been and always will be. And I have a brain to think what I wish without having some unknown leadership point my directions for me.


* * * * * *


Remember that I am keenly interested in your thoughts, ideas, opinions and story ideas. Just use the email attached or call my cell, 304-533-5185.

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