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Tags: West Virginia

West Virginia Democrat, Managing Election Laws, Violates Own Rules



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Of course:

The state’s chief election officer may have violated state election laws when she brought a group of supporters to the Kanawha County Voters Registration Office today.

On Wednesday, the first day for early voting in West Virginia, Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, who is running for U.S. Senate, led a group of supporters down Court Street to cast their ballots and proceeded to stump on the building’s front steps, an activity her office’s voting guide describes as “prohibited.”

Laws are for the little people.

In the photo above from the Charleston Daily Mail, Tennant campaigns
on the front steps of a voter-registration office.

 

Tags: West Virginia , Natalie Tennant

In a Surrender States’ Sovereignty State of Mind



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New York’s attorney generalwants to force other States to adopt the energy policies that are one of the big reasons New York is an economic basket case.” Myron Ebell, director for the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute comments here on Eric Schneiderman’s decision to file a motion to intervene in a 12-state court challenge to a 2011 settlement agreement made between the Environmental Protection Agency and environmental groups that would force states to regulate carbon emission from coal-fired plants within their jurisdictions.

Eleven other state attorneys general joined him in the motion.

Earlier this year, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, along with AGs from 11 other coal-reliant states sued the EPA over the settlement. Morrisey argued the rules change would have “devastating effects on West Virginia’s jobs and its economy.”

Schneiderman’s motion disputes Morrisey’s claims and asks that the implementation of the EPA rules not be delayed.

“From extreme droughts to extreme storms, we’re already seeing impacts associated with uncontrolled climate change across the country – and we must rise to meet its challenge with all the urgency it demands,” Schneiderman maintains.

Morrisey and other opponents to the new EPA regulations contend that while states may have differing opinions on federal policy, the rule of law should prevail.

Reporting on the legal arguments, the Los Angeles Times explains:

The plaintiffs said the EPA entered into a settlement agreement in 2011 with environmental groups and states allied with them to regulate existing coal-fired utilities under section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act. That section is the basis for the rules the Obama administration proposed in June.

The plaintiffs argue the settlement and subsequent regulations are illegal because power plant emissions are regulated under a different part of the Clean Air Act.

“We recognize that states may have different policy goals regarding the emission of carbon dioxide, but hopefully every state can agree that regulations should only be issued in a lawful manner,” Morrisey said in an e-mail statement issued yesterday. “We believe that the proposed carbon dioxide rule is illegal and will ultimately be defeated in the courts.”

He also likens the regulation to a “power grab” in which “affordable electricity prices, American jobs, and maintaining the reliability of our power supply are at stake.”

In response to Schneiderman’s new motion, Morrisey has requested an expedited briefing on his lawsuit.

Whatever happens in the courts, the Empire State’s attorney general can be counted among those willing to surrender efficient – and Constitutional – state governance to federal meddlers.

Tags: New York , West Virginia

The Coming Huge Fight Over Abortion — Among Democrats



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From the Tuesday edition of the Morning Jolt:

Get Ready for a Massive Fight Over Abortion — Among Democrats!

So at what point can we declare that there’s a civil war within the Democratic party over abortion? Because West Virginia Democrats in the state legislature just voted to ban abortion after 20 weeks. Are the Democrats elsewhere just going to avert their eyes? Will NARAL give them a pass because there’s a D after their name?

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, a Democrat and perhaps the worst governor you’ve never heard of, is now going to be one of the most scrutinized governors in the country:

Another bill Tomblin said he would carefully scrutinize is House Bill 4588, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. That bill bans abortions after 20 weeks except in the case of non-viable pregnancies. The law is similar to others that have passed state legislatures across the country, but some of those bills have faced legal challenges. The attorney for the Senate Judiciary Committee last week cautioned against passing the bill to the full Senate, saying it is unconstitutional.

“The abortion bill obviously is one that causes me some concern because the legislative attorneys and others have said the bill is unconstitutional,” Tomblin said. “So I’ll be looking at all those aspects of it once I receive the bill.”

Note that the legislative votes weren’t even close:

The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, HB 4588, passed in the West Virginia Senate on the final day of the session, Saturday, March 8, by a vote of 29-5. The Senate approved an amended version of the bill, which had been passed earlier by the House of Delegates. The House had to concur with the Senate changes before final passage, 83-15.

Just in case there wasn’t enough pressure on Tomblin:

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin is “supportive” of a West Virginia bill banning abortions after 20 weeks and is considering backing a similar federal ban in the Senate.

“I am pro-life and supportive of the principles in the bill that was just passed in the West Virginia Legislature,” Manchin said in a statement.

Tags: Abortion , West Virginia , Democrats

Meet the Worst Governor You’ve Probably Never Heard Of



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The first Morning Jolt of a full and busy week notes the president’s human props guests for the State of the Union address, an embarrassing confession from a White House speechwriter, the National Republican Senatorial Committee emphasizing their stance in the Nebraska primary, and then this dramatically undercovered story . . . 

Meet Earl Ray Tomblin, the Worst Governor You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

On Howard Kurtz’s MediaBuzz this weekend, we discussed the disparate levels of coverage for controversies and scandals involving New Jersey governor Chris Christie, Virginia governor Bob McDonnell, New York governor Andrew Cuomo, and Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis.

Ana Marie Cox — less reliably liberal than some on the Right think — pointed out there was another governor embroiled in a supremely consequential crisis recently who’s gotten almost no national coverage: West Virginia’s Earl Ray Tomblin, a Democrat.

In case you’ve forgotten, Freedom Industries Inc. accidentally spilled thousands of gallons of a chemical used to clean coal into the Elk River

Roughly 300,000 people across nine counties near Charleston, the state capital, had to live with a “do not use” tap water ban for five days, give or take — meaning they could not drink, cook, wash or bathe that whole time, even after boiling the water. At times, the water coming out of the taps was flammable.

No matter how much you disdain the Environmental Protection Agency, it seems pretty clear that this corner of West Virginia could use some more actual, you know, environmental protection:

Even before last week’s chemical spill fouled tap water in nine counties in West Virginia, where more than 200,000 people still cannot use their water after seven long days, it was not unusual to find black water running from kitchen faucets in homes outside Charleston.

Or to see children with chronic skin rashes. Or bathtub enamel eaten away, leaving locals to wonder what the same water was doing to their teeth.

“Welcome to our world,” says Vivian Stockman, 52, a longtime resident of rural Roane County, north of Charleston, the state capital, and an activist with the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition.

(Maybe keeping an eye on this was one of the duties of that EPA employee who managed to take years off from work by claiming to secretly be working for the CIA.)

Tomblin’s office would insist that he’s not responsible for the spill. But the governor, has been in office since 2010, and was president of the state senate before that for 17 years. He’s been one of the most powerful men in the state for two decades, and he’s had ample opportunity to shape the state’s environmental laws and as governor, how they’re enforced.

Apparently they’re not enforced so well. And in an approach reminiscent of the gun-control debate, Tomblin seems to be suggesting the problem is a lack of laws:

Last Monday, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin stood behind a podium in the West Virginia Capitol and announced his plan for a new program to prevent chemical spills from what he called “unregulated” above-ground storage tanks.

Tomblin said his proposal would give the state Department of Environmental Protection “the tools necessary” to prevent another chemical leak like the one from the Freedom Industries tank farm, which contaminated the Elk River and the drinking water supply for 300,000 West Virginians.

“It was not regulated, and this bill will address that,” the governor said later to a small group of reporters . . . 

However, in several interviews with the Sunday Gazette-Mail, [Secretary Randy] Huffman and other DEP officials have made it clear — as Huffman did in his appearance with the governor — that Freedom Industries was absolutely not unregulated.

“I don’t think of them as being unregulated, but as being under-regulated,” Huffman said in one discussion.

As debates over future actions move through the Statehouse, the distinction is important. Environmental groups and regulatory experts say that no matter what rules govern Freedom Industries or any other company, those rules mean little unless the DEP becomes more aggressive with inspections and enforcement actions.

But even the best law in the world won’t do you much good if you have crappy enforcement:

In the days immediately after the Elk River leak, DEP officials said an initial review showed that they had not inspected the Elk River tank farm since at least 1991, when it was owned by a different company and was used for a different purpose.

After a more comprehensive review of their records, DEP officials have revealed a series of site visits by inspectors from the agency’s Division of Air Quality. Air inspectors were responding to odor complaints from residents — some of whom reported the now-familiar black-licorice smell of Crude MCHM — and examined if the site needed a state air-pollution permit. So far, DEP records indicate the agency concluded that the odor complaints were unfounded, and that no new permits were necessary.

This is spurring a bit of Democrat vs. Democrat criticism:

A West Virginia Senate leader thinks the governor’s proposal to prevent chemical spills caters to industry interests.

Senate Majority Leader John Unger says Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s bill doesn’t do enough to register and inspect above-ground storage tanks.

Unger took issue with Tomblin’s bill on Tuesday because it regulates just above-ground tanks deemed too close to a water supply. It also would only regulate sites holding chemicals above a certain risk level.

Unger is proposing regulation of all above-ground tanks.

And, of course:

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin says he was unaware he received campaign checks from top executives at the company at the center of West Virginia’s chemical spill.

Tags: West Virginia , Earl Ray Tomblin

Fifty States of Obamacare Confusion, Stress, and Aggravation



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From the last Morning Jolt of the week:

Fifty States of Obamacare Confusion, Stress, and Aggravation

No matter where you live in the United States, Obamacare is causing headaches, stress, and aggravation for someone near you.

In New Hampshire, vending-machine manufacturers are gasping at the new law’s requirements that calorie information be displayed on roughly 5 million vending machines – not just on the packaging of the food inside, but on the vending machine itself:

Carol Brennan, who owns Brennan Food Vending Services in Londonderry, said she doesn’t yet know how she will handle the regulations, but she doesn’t like them. She has five employees servicing hundreds of machines and says she’ll be forced to limit the items offered so her employees don’t spend too much time updating the calorie counts.

“It is outrageous for us to have to do this on all our equipment,” she said.

Brennan also doubts that consumers will benefit from the calorie information.

“How many people have not read a label on a candy bar?” she said. “If you’re concerned about it, you’ve already read it for years.”

To the Obama administration and their fans, America’s businesses are giant, bottomless barrels of money, time, and energy whose purpose in life is to be directed and redirected at the whims of those wise folks in Washington, in order to achieve the visionary “social justice” goal of telling people that, say, a candy bar isn’t nutritious or healthy for them.

In most states, the current worst stress and headache stems from people who think they’ve signed up for insurance through the state or federal exchanges but who haven’t yet gotten their confirmation or insurance cards from the insurance companies.

In Connecticut:

More than 34,000 state residents were slated to begin new private insurance plans Wednesday as part of the federal health law. But as the new year began, many people who bought policies through the state’s health insurance exchange still hadn’t received their first premium bills, which must be paid by Jan. 10 to get coverage this month.

In Vermont:

The state’s largest hospital had almost two dozen patients seek treatment with health insurance policies provided through Vermont’s health overhaul system since the start of the year, yet more than half of those did not have insurance cards, an official at Burlington’s Fletcher Allen Health Care said Thursday.

In Massachusetts:

Jessica Stanford of Sharon, Mass., is 40 and newly pregnant. She’d really like to see a doctor soon because she’s had several miscarriages and developed gestational diabetes during her last pregnancy. But she doesn’t have health insurance and is worried about racking up medical bills.

Stanford applied for subsidized coverage in early December. She keeps calling the Connector to find out about her enrollment status. One customer rep told Stanford she could take her application number to a doctor’s office for proof that the state will cover her, at least temporarily, but Stanford wants something more certain.

The Connector says it has extended coverage, through March, to 254,000 residents who applied for free or subsidized insurance and all residents who have had government backed coverage.

The agency is sending out letters explaining a temporary coverage plan that begins today (Jan. 1) for 22,371 residents who, like Stanford, are applying for the first time.

But Stanford doesn’t have her letter. The Connector is trying to expedite Stanford’s case…

But it’s pretty obvious the application process is still a mess. Only 497 of the almost 50,000 applicants who filed online have a new ConnectorCare plan. The agency can’t say how long it will take to finish processing the other 45,000 applications or bring 89,000 residents who have subsidized coverage, but haven’t even started to re-enroll, into the new, post Obamacare plans.

I can hear you now – well, those are all New England states. The only guy who knows how to run anything up there is Bill Belichick.

But it’s not much better in the upper Midwest.

In Wisconsin, a new survey of employers by Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce finds that “54 percent say that ACA has had a negative impact on their employees and 30 percent say it is too early to tell. Just 1 percent said the impact has been positive.”’

In Minnesota:

It’s a new year, but MNsure continues to wrestle with old problems involving its website and call center.

The application and account services portion of the state health exchange website was down Thursday afternoon for technical reasons.

“We are actively working on a resolution and ask that you visit us at a later time,” says a notice on the MNsure website. “We apologize for the inconvenience.”

Meanwhile, the average wait time for people calling MNsure for help on Thursday was 76 minutes. More than 2,200 calls had been received by MNsure as of 2 p.m.

For weeks, consumers have been frustrated by the combination of website glitches and lengthy waits at the MNsure call center.

Same bureaucratic nightmare in Grand Rapids, Michigan:

Shannon Wendt was no fan of the Affordable Care Act, but when she found out her family’s high-deductible health insurance plan would be canceled, she tried to enroll in a new plan through the federal marketplace.

 And then she hit glitches – and not just the usual problems with a stalled website.

Despite roughly 25 hours on the phone with dozens of health insurance navigators and supervisors, she still has been unable to sign up for insurance. The reason: her five children are deemed ineligible.

. . . Working with navigators by phone, she filed and deleted an application 12 times. She had her husband set up a separate application, but that ran into problems.

At one point, a navigator said she may have to submit proof of citizenship for the children. All five children were born in the U.S., and all have social security numbers, she said.

“Nobody’s said anything about it since then,” she said. “That’s kind of my working assumption – that somehow our kids are not considered citizens and that’s why they were rejected.”

Chicago, Illinois:

Dr. John Venetos, a Chicago gastroenterologist, said there is “tremendous uncertainty and anxiety” among patients who have been calling his office, some of whom believe they have signed up for coverage but have not yet received insurance cards.

“They’re not sure if they have coverage. It puts the heavy work on the physician,” Venetos said. “At some point, every practice is going to make a decision about how long can they continue to see these patients for free if they are not getting paid.”

And no, it’s not much better in the mid-Atlantic, either.

Pennsylvania:

Pennsylvanians who applied for health insurance through the federally run website Healthcare.gov and were found to be eligible or potentially eligible for Medicaid were cautioned Thursday by Gov. Tom Corbett’s office that they may not have coverage yet.

An administration spokesman said the federal government continues to have trouble transferring the electronic files of more than 25,000 applications to the state’s Department of Public Welfare.

Keep this in mind as Obamacare fans keep telling you that the website is fixed.

A similar story in Montgomery County, Maryland:

“Somebody just got hit by a car today, who’s on the way to the hospital right now, who thinks they have coverage,” says veteran Montgomery County insurance broker Jack Cohen.

That person might be mistaken if they think they are covered.

“If you say, ‘I’m covered, I signed up for coverage Jan. 1, I just don’t have the card yet,’ the doctor is going to see you, but they’re going to make you pay out of pocket,” said Cohen, who’s heard from irate customers who are worried their payments haven’t been processed.

In West Virginia:

A glitch on the federal health insurance marketplace has caused problems for about 18,000 West Virginians attempting to sign up for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act…

The federal website would have transferred accounts of those people on to the state, [Jeremiah Samples, assistant secretary for the state Department of Health and Human Resources] said. Instead, the federal website is sending only “flat files,” which have basic information about the person but not enough to sign them up for Medicaid, he said.

The DHHR is sending letters to those 10,000 people informing them they will need to sign up again via the state’s Medicaid website.

In Virginia, the mandate’s in effect . . . but the uninsured are telling the doctors the problem is the same as it was before: They just can’t afford it.

Even with the Affordable Care Act and possible Medicaid expansion in Virginia, the Free Clinic of Danville says they’ll still have constant traffic.

Staff members say they’ve had numerous patients inform them that even with subsidies, they’re still unable to afford health insurance premiums.

Turning South, in Texas the description is “a sort of chaos,” which is probably not that much better than just plain chaos:

The entire tracking system was “in a sort of chaos” Thursday as consumers tried to use or confirm their new insurance, said Kelly Fristoe, an insurance agent in Wichita Falls, Texas.

“I’ve got pharmacies that are calling in to verify benefits on these new plans that are getting incorrect information,” he said. “I have people that are calling to make their initial premium payment, and they’ve been on hold for maybe three or four hours at a time and then they get hung up on.”

North Carolina:

Months after problems plagued enrollment in the State Health plan, thousands of current and retired state workers continue to face obstacles.

The new coverage year began Jan. 1 but state officials acknowledged Thursday that 105,000 state employees, mostly those who work at government agencies, do not have insurance cards used to obtain medical care.

State Treasurer Janet Cowell’s office, which oversees the insurance plan that covers 660,000 state workers and retirees, says the cards are being processed and will be mailed soon.

Florida:

The kind of quiet relief is what a Santa Rosa Beach couple, artist David Hart and his wife Karen, a marketing consultant, are yearning for. As the Washington Post reported on Sunday, the Harts signed up for a plan through the federal Marketplace and paid by phone on Dec. 19. But they got worried when the check to Florida Blue hadn’t been cashed by Dec. 27, and began making calls.

On Wednesday, Karen Hart told Health News Florida that their problem has not yet been resolved. Their application shows up as complete and paid on Healthcare.gov, she said, and they even have a payment confirmation number, but they haven’t been able to get Florida Blue to fix the problem.

“We’re now stuck in the middle,” Karen Hart says. “It’s been an absolute nightmare.”

In Tennessee, one of their senators is underlining the economic impact of the new law:

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander, a former U.S. Secretary of Education, Thursday said that as school starts back up in 2014, Obamacare is forcing cuts in hours for employees, such as substitute teachers, in at least 11 Tennessee school districts ‘and likely many more,’ harming students’ education in the process

School districts reporting fiscal challenges because of Obamacare include: Carter County, Clarksville, Franklin Special School District, Johnson City, Maury County, Oneida Special School District, Rutherford County, Scott County, Stewart County, Washington County and Wilson County.

Nor are things much better out West. California’s just now realizing that the exchange isn’t sustainable, at least not the way it currently operates:

Covered California projects it will lose $78 million in the 2015-16 budget, and it is not clear how the health exchange plans to close that gap and become financially self-sustaining once federal grants run dry.

While the exchange says that it will increase revenue and trim expenses to bring its operating budget into balance, its budget documents make no definitive statements about how, exactly, it will reach financial equilibrium . . . 

Since its creation in 2010, the exchange has paid its bills with nearly $1 billion in federal grants. But, starting on Jan. 1, 2015, the Affordable Care Act forbids federal grants for health exchange operations. And state law prohibits dipping into California’s general fund to pay for exchange operations.

How long until we see state governors pushing to delay the deadline for financial sustainability? Federal bailouts forever! Elsewhere in the state:

In California, employees of the state health exchange were still going through some 19,000 paper applications sent in the early days after Covered California launched on Oct. 1, spokesman Dana Howard said. He could not say how many were outstanding.

Oregon:

A major health care overhaul begins on Jan. 1, but it’s proven to be a big pain for many Oregonians.

Some people say they won’t have insurance in the New Year, despite their attempts to enroll in Cover Oregon.

 “I have spent a total of four hours on hold to no avail. I had a contracted insurance broker submit the application for me on December 4th but have never received a packet,” one viewer wrote to KATU in an email. “So frustrating as I really need coverage ASAP.” 

“I was in their system on every other call today. Now I am not,” another man wrote in an email to KATU. “I am disabled and need my insurance!”

In Washington, the good news is that the state can only take money from your heirs after you die to recover long-term care costs, not routine costs. Now you can rest in peace!

Washington’s Health Care Authority, as promised, has filed an emergency rule to amend Medicaid’s estate recovery policy.

Current policy allows Medicaid to recover all medical costs from a client’s estate after death, which caused some consternation among those signing up for health insurance through the state’s expanded Medicaid program. The change means that Medicaid can only recover costs related to long-term care services.

The emergency rule-making order, which becomes effective Jan. 1, 2014, said the change was made to “eliminate a barrier to applying for health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act.”

Hope you like paying higher premiums, Hawaii:

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Tuesday the state Insurance Division approved increases of 9.2 percent for 11,000 individual plans and 5 percent for 26,300 small business plans administered by Kaiser. HMSA will be allowed to increase rates on 14,300 individual plans by 7.5 percent. HMSA increased small business rates by 6.8 percent for 118,000 members earlier this year.

Insurers say the increases are necessary to cover higher medical expenses, taxes and fees anticipated under the Affordable Care Act.

Tags: Obamacare , New Hampshire , Vermont , Massachusetts , Pennsylvania , West Virginia , Iowa

Rockefeller Out; Senate Conservatives Fund Seeks New Option



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Senator Jay Rockefeller, Democrat of West Virginia, says he won’t run for another term.

For the Republicans, Representative Shelley Moore Capito had already announced her intent to run for the seat in 2014; the Club for Growth turned its collective nose up at her as an option and now the Senate Conservatives Fund — headed by Senator Jim DeMint until he left for Heritage — is singing a similar tune:

“Now that Rockefeller has taken himself out of the race, the door is wide open for Republicans in West Virginia to nominate a true conservative,” said SCF Executive Director Matt Hoskins. “President Obama lost the state by 26 points so there’s no reason a courageous conservative can’t win this race.”

In November, SCF announced it could not support Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito’s candidacy for the U.S. Senate because of her liberal voting record in the U.S. House of Representatives. Just last year, Capito voted for the $1 trillion, budget-busting omnibus spending bill as well as a $2.4 trillion increase in the debt ceiling. Capito has a long history of supporting wasteful earmark spending, union wage mandates, and taxpayer funding for abortion.

“We’re not going to stop looking for a conservative challenger in this race until the primary is over. The voters in West Virginia get to decide who represents them and they should have a conservative choice. If we’re going to save this country, we have to find principled leaders who have the courage to stand up to the big spenders in both political parties. “

The Senate Conservatives Fund (SCF) is an independent, grassroots organization dedicated to electing conservatives to the U.S. Senate. SCF raised over $25 million in the past two election cycles and helped elect eight U.S. Senators, including Pat Toomey (R-PA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Rand Paul (R-KY), Mike Lee (R-UT), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), and Deb Fischer (R-NE).

West Virginia has proven a tough nut to crack for Republicans in statewide races in recent cycles — a disappointing 43 percent in a special Senate election in 2010, garnering 47 percent in a special gubernatorial election in 2011, finishing with 45 percent in 2012’s regular gubernatorial election. However, the state has become reliably Republican in presidential elections, and they picked up a U.S. House seat in 2010, when Dave McKinley beat Mike Oliverio; McKinley won easily with redrawn district lines this November.

Tags: Jay Rockefeller , Shelley Moore Capito , West Virginia

Club for Growth: Capito Is the Wrong Candidate in West Virginia



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That didn’t take long; this morning the news broke that Representative Shelley Moore Capito, a West Virginia Republican, was preparing to run for Senate in 2014; hours later, the Club for Growth issues a statement that is distinctly unwelcoming her to the race:

Washington, DC — Today, Club for Growth PAC President Chris Chocola issued the following statement on news that Republican Congresswoman Shelly Moore Capito is running for the U.S. Senate in West Virginia:

“This year, the Republican establishment cheered the U.S. Senate candidacies of Congressmen Denny Rehberg and Rick Berg and former Congresswoman Heather Wilson. All three had the ‘right’ resumes, and all three had no ‘divisive’ primaries. Yet all three lost in races that were thought to be winnable,” ;said Club for Growth President Chris Chocola. “These three supposedly ‘electable’ Republican candidates also had something else in common: consistent support for bailouts, debt increases, earmarks, and massive expansions of big-government spending programs.”

“Today, along comes Rep. Shelly Moore Capito. Her candidacy will undoubtedly be cheered by the GOP establishment, and dire warnings will be issued against any ‘divisive’ primary challenges, lest other candidates hurt Capito’s chances of winning,” continued Chocola. “The problem is that Congresswoman Capito’s record looks a whole lot like the establishment candidates who lost this year. Congresswoman Capito has a long record of support of bailouts, pork, and bigger government. She voted to bail out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, for massive expansions of government-run health insurance, giveaways to big labor, and repeatedly voted to continue funding for wasteful earmarks like an Exploratorium in San Francisco and an Aquarium in South Carolina. That’s not the formula for GOP success in U.S. Senate races.”

“The way back for the Republican Party is the way of Jeff Flake, Ted Cruz, Pat Toomey, Marco Rubio, Ron Johnson, Rand Paul, and Mike Lee. All were supported by the Club for Growth PAC and grassroots Republicans. All are consistent supporters of limited government principles. All were winners because they could clearly articulate the pro-growth economic message. They are the future of the Republican Party,” concluded Chocola.

Of course, the Club for Growth had its own trouble with “the formula for GOP success in U.S. Senate races,” as three of its preferred candidates — Connie Mack in Florida, Josh Mandel in Ohio, and Richard Mourdock in Indiana — lost; Jeff Flake in Arizona and Ted Cruz in Texas won. In the House, Club for Growth was seven for seven.

The list of votes that Club for Growth finds objectionable is below:

#more#

        Has never voted for a conservative Republican Study Committee Budget (RCV #68, 2001; RCV #79, 2003, RCV #90, 2004; RCV #83, 2005; RCV #156, 2006; RCV #211, 2007; RCV #140, 2008; RCV #189, 2009, RCV #275, 2011)

·        Voted for SCHIP, the massive expansion of government-run health insurance five times, including once in 2007 when she was one of just five Republicans to do so. (RCV #787, 2007; RCV #906, 2007; RCV #1009, 2007; RCV #16, 2009; RCV #50, 2009)

·        Voted for “Cash for Clunkers” (RCV #314, 2009; RCV #682, 2009)

·        Voted for the $300 billion bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (RCV #519, 2008)

·        Voted for the Auto Bailout (RCV #690, 2008)

·        Voted for No Child Left Behind (RCV #497, 2001)

·        Voted for the August 2011 deal that raised the debt limit by trillions of dollars (RCV #690, 2011)

·        Repeatedly voted against blocking “Davis-Bacon” wage requirements (RCV #488, 2007; RCV #807, 2007; RCV #15, 2008; RCV #561, 2008; RCV #122, 2009; RCV #144, 2011; RCV #395, 2011; RCV #414, 2011; RCV #585, 2011)

·        Repeatedly voted for wasteful earmark spending like the Bronx Council for the Arts (RCV #335, 2006), an American Ballet Theatre (RCV #668, 2007), an Exploratorium in San Francisco (RCV #664, 2007), an Aquarium in South Carolina (RCV #669, 2007), and Grape genetics research (RCV #810, 2007)

·        Voted for McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform (RCV #34, 2002)

Tags: Club For Growth , Shelley Moore Capito , West Virginia

Democrats Keep the Governor’s Mansion in West Virginia



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West Virginia has disappointed Republicans tonight.

The Associated Press has called it for Democrat Earl Ray Tomblin, the state-senate president who became acting governor when Joe Manchin was elected to the Senate.

At this late hour, Tomblin has 49.21 percent; Republican Bill Maloney has 47.35 percent. The silver lining for Republicans is that this is easily the closest statewide race in recent memory. The bad news for Republicans is that they had a lot of factors working in their favor tonight: the low turnout of a special election (less than 25 percent, according to the early numbers), Tomblin’s status as an incumbent who can be blamed for the current flaws of the state government while never winning statewide election before; and the sterling character and résumé of their challenger, Maloney:

For starters, he has never served in any government job before. He founded North American Drillers in 1984, a company that started by drilling 24-inch support shafts for mines and expanded until it was capable of handling jobs as large as 18-foot-diameter shafts. Maloney sold his share of the company in 2006. During a family vacation in Cape May, N.J., last year, he heard details about the plight of the trapped Chilean miners; the Chilean government expected them to be rescued on a four-month timeline, and Maloney felt compelled to devise a plan that could work more quickly.

“I had known all along that I would end up in Chile, working to rescue those miners,” Maloney later recalled. “We arrived at the mine site in Chile on September 4, and timely planning and good fortune enabled us to begin drilling with DTH technology on September 5. Center Rock had fabricated the drilling equipment required for Plan B in days instead of the weeks usually required due to the specialized parts that are made per individual project requirements. . . . While the drillers lost and wore out numerous drill bits, they were still able to reach the underground mine workshop at 8:05 a.m. on October 9.” Maloney describes his role in the Chilean-miner rescue in detail here.

In the run-up to the race, Washington Republicans were emphasizing the caution in their cautious optimism; outside of presidential races, West Virginia is a pretty reliably Democratic state, at least in statewide elections.

The Public Policy Polling survey foresaw a close race, putting Tomblin at 47 percent and Maloney at 46 percent. But as the saying goes, close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.

Tags: Bill Maloney , Earl Ray Tomblin , West Virginia

Tell Your West Virginia Friends to Vote Today!



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The Tuesday Morning Jolt features Obama’s admission that Americans aren’t better off now than they were four years ago, a look at the reshuffled primary schedule, and . . . oh yes, it’s election day in West Virginia.

Take Us Home, Country Roads, to the Place . . . Maloney Could Win: West Virginia!

Having been too optimistic about GOP chances in some past cycles (see 2006, and my sense of Obama’s margin of victory 2008) I’m always a little wary about getting too excited. A short while ago I took a long look at the special gubernatorial election in West Virginia and concluded, “While [Republican Brian ]Maloney remains an underdog, he appears to be surging. A defeat of [Democrat Acting Gov. Earl Ray] Tomblin might rank alongside Scott Brown’s win in Massachusetts or Bob Turner’s recent win in New York’s ninth congressional district — as a sign that Obama’s stances and record have severely damaged the Democratic party’s image and reputation, even in its most secure political strongholds. A Maloney win would also declare that the era of business as usual in West Virginia’s state government has finally come to an end.

Now Public Policy Polling finds, “The race for Governor of West Virginia is looking more and more like a toss up, with Democrat Earl Ray Tomblin now leading Republican Bill Maloney only 47-46. Tomblin’s lead was 46-40 on a poll conducted at the beginning of September and he had led by as large a margin as 33 points earlier in the year. A lot of money has been spent on attacking Tomblin in the closing weeks of the campaign and that appears to be taking its toll on the Governor’s image. His net approval has dropped 13 points in the last four weeks from +25 (50/25) to just +12 (44/32). Attempts to saddle Tomblin with the burden of Barack Obama might be having an impact as well — the President’s approval in the state is just 28%, with 63% of voters disapproving of him.”

At Hot Air, Ed Morrissey looks at the PPP numbers and concludes, “The news is probably worse for Democrats than PPP lets on. Their polling sample gave Democrats a 20-point advantage, 55/35/9. In 2010, with the popular Manchin at the top of the ticket, CNN’s exit polling showed a much narrower edge for Democrats, 41/35/24. Since Jensen himself notes that Manchin would beat Maloney by thirty points, it’s hard to see why Democrats would add 14 points to their edge from 2010 while Republicans lose two points and two-thirds of independents disappear. If we reweighted the response to reflect the 2010 exit polling, I’d bet that Maloney would be leading this race outside of the margin of error. We’ll certainly know after tomorrow.”

If you know someone registered to vote in West Virginia, give them a call today.

I’m going to periodically repeat my in-case-of-technical-emergency message here; if you delete these e-mails when you’re done, I suggest you jot down Russ’s e-mail address. Because if you send your ‘Hey, why didn’t I get my e-mail?’ message to me, you’ll get my usual “Uh . . . did you check your spam folder?” response. Russell Jenkins of NR, who actually knows about these things, has agreed to be the go-to guy for subscription issues. He can, at the very least, check to make sure the e-mail address is still on the distribution list. So if you have any problems or issues, e-mail [email protected]. And thank him. He’s a lot more useful than I am!

Tags: Bill Maloney , Earl Ray Tomblin , West Virginia

Wide Crevasse Separates the Party Nominees in the Mountain State



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Over on the home page, I take a look at the West Virginia gubernatorial election, where the contrast between the candidates cannot be overstated:

Manchin’s election required him to step down as governor, and state-senate president Earl Ray Tomblin became acting governor. (Tomblin retains his title as senate president but is not collecting his legislative salary or presiding over the chamber.)

Tomblin’s biography seems like a litany of clichés for powerful state lawmakers with shady ties in rural states. His mother, Freda Tomblin, owned a pair of lucrative dog tracks and his father, Earl Tomblin, was a sheriff twice convicted of election fraud and bribery. The more recent case, from 1989, featured the elder Tomblin paying a sheriff candidate $10,000 for a salaried position as a part-time investigator for the sheriff’s office that required little work.

Tomblin’s family owned Southern Amusement Co., a vending-machine outfit that distributed “gray” video-poker machines before the state legalized video lottery in 2001. The term “gray” meant that while they were purportedly not meant to be used for gambling, just for amusement, it was an open secret that many venue owners paid players. After becoming senate president in 1994, Earl Ray Tomblin left his position with the company, and his family sold the business the following year — to “Joe C. Ferrell, a former state delegate from Logan County who pleaded guilty to racketeering and tax charges in federal court last month.”

Around the time they sold Southern Amusement, the Tomblins expanded the dog-racing venture. The state legislature started setting aside money for dog racing in 1993 as an incentive for dog owners to breed greyhounds; the fund was created when Tomblin was chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.

Since 1993, Tomblin Kennels; Tomblin’s mother, Freda; his brother, Carl Tomblin; and other members of the Tomblin family have received at least $4,194,014 in breeders’-fund bonus payments. One of Tomblin’s Democratic rivals, state treasurer John Perdue, tried to make the dog tracks an issue in the primary but got limited traction.

Meanwhile, the Republican nominee, Bill Maloney, was headed down to Chile to help rescue those trapped miners. Really.

Self-serving as it may seem, read the whole thing.

Tags: Bill Maloney , Earl Ray Tomblin , West Virginia

West Virginia’s Bumper Crop of Gubernatorial Candidates



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Perhaps a deficit of prosperity leads to a surplus of candidates running to fix things; West Virginia, for example, does not lack gubernatorial candidates for its special election this October, with 14 candidates filing papers:

One of the final candidates to declare was state Sen. Jeffrey Kessler, D-Marshall, who announced his candidacy Saturday shortly before the 5 p.m. deadline. Kessler, the acting Senate president, has served in the Senate since 1997.

Other Democrats in the race are acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, House Speaker Rick Thompson, Kanawha County resident Arne Moltis, Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, and state Treasurer John Perdue, according to the state’s elections website.

Running as Republicans are former Secretary of State Betty Ireland; Sen. Clark Barnes, R-Randolph; Putnam County prosecutor Mark Sorsaia; former Berkeley County Delegate Larry Faircloth; Jackson County Delegate Mitch Carmichael; and Monongalia County residents Cliff Ellis, Ralph William Clark and mine-drilling consultant Bill Maloney.

Tags: West Virginia

West Virginia Will Pick a Governor in October



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This is interesting: West Virginia will hold its special election for governor one month before the other three gubernatorial elections this year, October 4:

West Virginia would elect a governor Oct. 4 after nominating candidates in a May 14 primary, after the Legislature passed a measure Thursday setting up its timetable. The House of Delegates unanimously approved a compromise bill that emerged from the Senate on Wednesday, also on a unanimous vote. Acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin welcomed the measure’s final passage, and intends to sign it.

Tags: West Virginia

West Virginia GOP Chair Won’t Run for Governor



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Mike Stuart, the chairman of the West Virginia GOP, said he’s not running for governor. He said he may consider running for public office in 2012.

The Republicans who have thrown their hat in the ring include State Sen. Clark Barnes and former Secretary of State Betty Ireland. Democrats running in this year’s special election include current Acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, State Sen. Jeff Kessler, Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, and State Delegate Rick Thompson.

Tags: Mike Stuart , West Virginia

An Extra Governor’s Race This Year, in West Virginia



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Yes, West Virginia, you will have a special gubernatorial election this year:

West Virginia must hold a special election to choose a governor who will take office by Nov. 15, or within one year of when state Senate President Earl Ray Tomblin began acting as chief executive, the state Supreme Court ruled Tuesday in a unanimous decision.

The justices rejected Tomblin’s stance that the West Virginia Constitution and state law did not set the next vote for the governor’s office until 2012 . . . [because] then-Gov. Joe Manchin had more than two years left in his term when he joined the U.S. Senate in November. Manchin had won a special election prompted by the death last year of Sen. Robert C. Byrd.

As noted earlier, for Republicans, former secretary of state Betty Ireland announced her interest in running at the end of the year, and state senator Clark Barnes also is expressing interest. On the other side of the aisle are a slew of West Virginia Democrats: “Tomblin; House Speaker Richard Thompson; state Sens. Jeff Kessler and Brooks McCabe, Secretary of State Natalie Tennant; and state Treasurer John Perdue.”

Tags: Joe Manchin , West Virginia

Candidates Lining Up for Possible West Virginia Governor’s Race



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If West Virginia ends up having a gubernatorial election this year, there will be at least two Republicans making a bid.

Former secretary of state Betty Ireland announced her interest in running at the end of the year; state senator Clark Barnes also is expressing interest.

On the other side of the aisle are a slew of West Virginia Democrats: “[Acting governor Earl Ray] Tomblin; House Speaker Richard Thompson; state Sens. Jeff Kessler and Brooks McCabe, Secretary of State Natalie Tennant; and state Treasurer John Perdue.”

The state supreme court will hear oral arguments next week on when the state should hold the next election for governor.

Tags: West Virginia

Manchin Sues EPA



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Gov. Joe Manchin announced yesterday that West Virginia was filing a suit against the Environmental Protect Agency. He denied that the decision was politically motivated.

The suit says that mountaintop coal mining regulations instituted by the Obama administration last year violate states’ rights and were instituted without the required amount of public notification and review.

“They have proven they are trying to regulate what they can’t legislate,” said Manchin, according to the West Virginia MetroNews.

Manchin, who has fallen six points behind Republican senate candidate John Raese in the latest Rasmussen poll, said planning for the suit had begun in April, before Sen. Robert Byrd passed away.

In a statement to The Hill, Raese spokesman Kevin McLaughlin said, “West Virginians need someone in Washington that won’t be a rubber stamp for President Obama’s radical agenda. They need someone who has the foresight to stand up for West Virginia values and oppose government overreaches like ObamaCare and cap-and-trade before they become law, not after polls get tight.”

Manchin was endorsed by the West Virginia Coal Association last week.

Tags: West Virginia

Raese Moneybomb: ‘51 to Repeal’



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Republican John Raese is launching a 48-hour fund-raising blitz at the website 51toRepeal.com. Rasmussen’s latest poll has Raese leading Gov. Joe Manchin 48 percent to 46 percent, making Raese a legitimate candidate to be the 51st GOP Senator and a critical factor in the effort to repeal Obamacare. If elected, he would also be the first Republican Senator from West Virginia in 51 years.

The health-care bill is deeply unpopular in West Virginia. After a new round of polling showed Raese in the lead, Manchin suddenly called for a partial repeal of the law, despite initially endorsing the bill and saying in March that he would have voted for it.

Tags: West Virginia

Raese Opens Slight Lead in WV



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A new PPP poll shows Republican John Raese leading Gov. Joe Manchin (D) 46 percent to 43 percent. Manchin remains personally popular, but voter dissatisfaction with Barack Obama and the Democratic Party could be a huge drag on his chances in November:

Manchin is the second most popular Governor PPP has polled on all year, behind only Bobby Jindal, with a 59/32 approval spread. He breaks almost even with Republicans as 42% of them approve of the job he’s doing with just 44% disapproving. In a highly polarized political climate the list of politicians with that kind of crossover popularity is very short.

At the same time West Virginians couldn’t be much more down on national Democrats. Barack Obama’s approval rating in the state is just 30% with 64% of voters disapproving of him. Even within his own party barely half of voters, at 51%, like the job he’s doing. Support from Republicans (91% disapproval) and independents (73% disapproval) is pretty much nonexistent.

Given the President’s high degree of unpopularity it’s no surprise that 54% of voters in the state want Republicans to control the next Congress with just 37% wanting the Democrats to stay in charge. GOP voters (91-3) and independents (66-21) are pretty universal in their desire for a Republican majority and even 25% of Democrats say they’d like to see a change.

22% of voters in the state have the competing impulses of both liking Manchin and wanting Republicans to control the next Congress. With those folks Raese leads 57-29 and that’s fueling his slight overall advantage.

Tags: West Virginia

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