November 30, 2022

It’s political party time in West Virginia | News, Sports, Jobs


About a week ago, “to party” has been the operative word as West Virginia celebrates 159 years as a state, as I celebrate four years as your state government reporter in Charleston, and both political parties make news for for better and for worse.

I expected more drama from the West Virginia Democratic Executive Committee when they voted June 18 for a new president and vice president. But despite numerous technological problems, party faithful chose Del. Mike Pushkin, D-Kanawha, as President and Del. Danielle Walker, D-Monongalia, as Vice President.

I won’t dwell on that too much because it’s old news and I wrote about voting this weekend. Pushkin is certainly the most progressive chair for quite some time. I would say that at least the last three presidents of the Democratic Party have been people close to former Governor and US Senator Joe Manchin.

However, the Democratic Party veers more to the left nationally, and what remains of the state Democratic Party base also veers more to the left. Pushkin may be a progressive, but his experience in the legislature since 2015 – the year Republicans won a majority – has prepared him for his new role. He knows when to choose a battle against a progressive ideal and when to adopt a more moderate tact.

From what I’ve seen recently regarding the infighting between various state Democratic Party subcommittees, the state executive committee could have chosen someone much more to the left of Pushkin which could have caused more havoc. Pushkin may be a progressive, but he is a progressive the remaining moderates can work with.

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I often tell people that West Virginia has a majority in Republican voter registration, supermajorities in the state Senate and House of Delegates, Governor Jim Justice and all the seats on the Public Works Board, and all all but one state congressional seat (Manchin) despite Republican county and state executive committees, not because of them.

What I mean is that if the Republican Executive Committee of West Virginia ran a campaign like it runs its internal operations, I’m not sure this candidate could win.

For example: As I reported last week, WVREC President Mark Harris has announced that he will not be seeking a full four-year term as President when the committee meets on Saturday, July 30 in Charleston. . But he will not resign before, as demanded by John Findlay, the party’s executive director, and anonymous officers of the committee.

Why was he asked to resign? Good question. No one said publicly what was so inappropriate that his fellow officers and the executive director felt he should contact another media outlet two hours before midnight on a Saturday and publish an article calling for Harris’s resignation. I’m only aware of the allegations through various third parties, but no one directly connected has been willing to report — or even behind the scenes — to say what Harris did.

No doubt Harris has baggage. Last year, he only won to fill the remainder of former President Melody Potter’s term after two votes (and one wonders if he really won the first vote), and those two totals were close. . He never had a clear mandate and it’s likely he was always a seat warmer for someone else on the road. Harris only won thanks to Brian Abraham, chief of staff for Governor Jim Justice, winning votes.

Harris’ only real notoriety came when he was fired from the Beckley VA Medical Center as chief of staff in 2019 due to his handling of an incident that led to sexual assault charges against a doctor. As one committee member told me, you really have to be a failure to get kicked out of the VA. I’m not even sure anyone in the management of Clarksburg VA Medical Center was fired after Reta Mays was convicted of multiple murders at the facility while working as a nurse.

So, if the unknown allegations against Harris are so serious but Harris won’t step down from the presidency until July 30, why isn’t the state executive committee holding an emergency meeting to oust Harris before July 30? Because in the end, the powers that be got what they wanted, which was to eliminate Harris as an obstacle next month.

It seems to me that this could have been done simply by finding a better presidential candidate and letting the election work. This would have avoided unnecessary vague accusations and allowed everyone to save face. Once again, the state’s Republican Executive Committee looks bad in its handling of this.

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Again, this week marks four years with Ogden Newspapers and covers your state and federal government for you. I’ve been mostly non-stop since the beginning. If you recall, my first day on the job four years ago was the first day the Legislature voted for the special impeachment session of the entire West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals. It feels like ages now.

I haven’t worked a day since. I continue to take advantage of every minute to bring you the latest Charleston news and in-depth articles every weekend, as well as this weekly column that takes you inside my head as I cover all of these issues. I thank the Ogden newspapers every day for allowing me to do this, as well as the new “Mountain State Views” podcast that I host.

If you keep reading, I will keep writing.

(Adams is the state government reporter for Ogden Newspapers. He can be reached at [email protected])



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