26 January 2008

Barth In, Unger Out as 2008 Filing Deadline Passes

A non-starter, and the 11th-hour (literally) filing it prompted, marked the final day for candidates to file for offices on the 2008 ballot.

As The Associated Press reports, Anne Barth, longtime aide to U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd, entered the Democratic race to challenge U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-2nd.

She filed after state Sen. John Unger, D-Berkeley, announced he would not enter the fray.

As AP notes, Unger "had already raised at least $150,000 and lined up support from the state’s two U.S. House Democrats and some of their congressional colleagues."

This backing included special attention from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. And besides launching a congressional campaign web site, Unger had also picked up an AFL-CIO endorsement.

But most conspicuous, and controversial, was the on-stage endorsement from Reps. Alan Mollohan, D-1st, and Nick Rahall, D-3rd, during last year's Jefferson-Jackson Dinner.

AP also has a rundown of some of the other contested races at the top of the ballot.

In addition to its array of helpful links and newsfeeds, WVHotline has been compiling comprehensive rosters of all House of Delegates and state Senate candidacy filings. All 100 House seats are up this year, as are half the seats in the 34-member Senate.

Bush in West Virginia

(White House photo)

President Bush used his latest visit to West Virginia to urge Congress "to quickly pass an economic stimulus package void of extraneous spending, saying only quick action will kickstart the sputtering economy," The Associated Press reports.

Bush spoke at the latest Republican congressional retreat hosted by The Greenbrier. Correcting an earlier post, Friday marked at least the 22nd trip to the Mountain State by the president and his fourth to the posh resort.

Previous Greenbrier stops were also to headline GOP congressional retreats, including in 2003 and 2005.

Local coverage includes a story by The Register-Herald of Beckley as well as video from WVNS-TV and audio from MetroNews.

25 January 2008

Short Takes from the Session: Day 17

REPTILES & FOSSILS (Insert punchline here): The roster of bills afoot this session include measures to name an official reptile and fossil for West Virginia. The Associated Press' Tom Breen has the story, which delves into the history of declaring state symbols. The Register-Herald of Beckley focuses on the reptile bill.

DISABILITIES: More than 100 West Virginians rallied at the Capitol this week. "Their message for lawmakers: eliminate the long waiting lists to get help from state programs, and help people with disabilities stay in their own homes," Public Broadcasting reports. Those at the rally also honored advocate Ken Ervin, who died last year. The Charleston Gazette also has a story.

WORKERS' COMPENSATION: Some lawmakers continue to push for some sort of oversight as the insurance system becomes fully privatized, The Times-West Virginian of Fairmont reports.

PRISONS: As the Legislature debates ways to tackle rising corrections costs, Senate Finance Chairman Walt Helmick tells MetroNews "the state needs to consider building one or two new state prisons." With audio.

Legislature 2008: Teachers

The Associated Press' Shaya Tayefe Mohajer examines the back-and-forth between Gov. Joe Manchin and teachers' groups over whether his legislative proposals reflect 5.5 percent worth of pay raises.

"Teachers unions say the governor is using fuzzy math in his proposal for teacher salary raises -- and school employees will be shortchanged as a result," the article said, while "Manchin says that in his tenure, he's done right by teachers, pouring millions of dollars into salary increases and working to solve the teacher retirement crisis he inherited."

And Now There Are Three

Two days after Gov. Joe Manchin filed for re-election with much fanfare, opponents lined up against him for the Democratic primary and as the potential GOP nominee, The Associated Press reports.

"Republican Russ Weeks said he decided to run to give voters a choice, and because they 'must hear the truth about state government,'" the AP article said. "Delegate Mel Kessler (D-Raleigh), meanwhile, said he's been spurred on by what he called the governor's heavy-handed dealings with the Legislature and such key constituent groups as seniors and teachers."

Each expressed dissatisfaction with Manchin's performance. Kessler told AP that "I think we need a governor who realizes there are three branches of government... I’m running on the premise that the guy’s beat himself.’’

Weeks was also critical of much of the rest of the state's administration.

‘‘There are a lot of people in government today that I hope are scared,’’ AP quoted him as saying. ‘‘They know that I know where the skeletons are buried.’’

Manchin's reaction? "As always, he focuses on running for the office, not against any other candidate," spokeswoman Lara Ramsburg told AP.

The Register-Herald is on top of the story, with the Beckley newspaper offering separate articles on Weeks' and Kessler's candidacies. MetroNews also offers separates of Weeks and Kessler (with audio of Weeks). The Charleston Gazette also has coverage, as does WSAZ (with video of Kessler) and WVNS-TV (with video).

MonacoGate Upends Massey Ruling

With a circuit judge sitting in for disqualified Chief Justice Elliott "Spike" Maynard, the state Supreme Court has voided its earlier reversal of a $76.3 million judgment against Massey Energy Co.

Thursday's 5-0 vote granted the petition for rehearing sought by Harman Mining Co. and Hugh Caperton, which had won the judgment.

As The Associated Press and others report, Maynard's recusal and Thursday's outcome follow "the release of vacation photos showing him with Don Blankenship, Massey's chairman, president and chief executive officer, while the judgment was headed for appeal."

The two sides will again argue the appeal March 12.

Lawyers for Harman and Caperton reacted to the decision by urging the joint recusal of Justices Larry Starcher and Brent Benjamin. Starcher has been a frequent critic of Massey and Blankenship, while Benjamin "was elected in 2004 after Blankenship spent millions on ads that promoted his candidacy by attacking his Democratic opponent," AP notes.

"The Court would gain great credibility, public confidence in the judicial system would be restored, and the litigants would take great comfort that justice will be done," the lawyers' statement said.

Thursday's order included comments from Starcher, who said "the majority" had denied both he and Benjamin time to consider recusal. He also said in the order:

I have an absolute right and duty to comment publicly on that issue, although my language should have been more temperate, I admit. But I can separate that opinion from my understanding of the law.

That comment helped prompt the recusal statement from Harman and Caperton's lawyers.

AP reports that "Starcher also noted the ad campaign that benefited Benjamin, but said that 'he, I am sure, also sincerely believes he can separate that fact from his understanding of the applicable law.'"

The AP article also had this:

The Monaco photos grabbed national headlines. Starcher has since asked for an independent probe to examine other allegations he said "raise extremely serious legal and ethical issues." While providing no details in his Tuesday memo to court administrators, Starcher said he is prepared to share what he knows with investigators.

The justices discussed the memo during a Thursday conference and "are, of course, taking a studied and deliberate approach to this issue," Bundy said. "I have no resolution to report."

Others with the story include The Charleston Gazette and MetroNews.

Decidedly different takes can be found here, here, here and here. Each seems to ignore the analysis of scholars at the Louis Stein Center for Law & Ethics at Fordham University's law school, the Stanford Center on Ethics at Stanford University's law school, and the law schools of New York University, the University of Connecticut, Georgetown University, George Mason University and West Virginia University.

24 January 2008

Bush Coming to West Virginia (Corrected)

President Bush expects to make his 22nd trip to the Mountain State and his fourth visit to The Greenbier with a Friday speech at the storied resort.

As the Charleston Daily Mail reports, Bush is slated to attend the 2008 "Congress of Tomorrow," a "conference for the benefit of members of the U.S. Congress and their staffs."

Governor figures in Coach Rod E-Mail Revelation

Gov. Joe Manchin played a role in the back-and-forth between West Virginia University and then-football head coach Rich Rodriguez and his agent that preceded his ugly departure to Michigan, The Associated Press reports.

AP's Vicki Smith obtained a stream of e-mails that detail the behind-the-scenes machinations that have roiled the program and WVU fans. "They show (agent Mike) Brown fighting for more operational and marketing control over the football program and over money Rodriguez helped raise through a booster organization he founded," Smith reports.

Smith also reports that "In e-mails to WVU president Mike Garrison and his chief of staff, Craig Walker, Brown also complains of Gov. Joe Manchin interfering with the program."

Smith's exclusive has gotten play well beyond West Virginia's borders. The Charleston Gazette asks Manchin about the story. Others with local reaction to its revelations include Public Broadcasting and MetroNews.

Short Takes from the Session: Day 16 (Updated)

BUCKS FOR JOBS: West Virginia and Marshall universities, the intended beneficiaries, are praising Gov. Joe Manchin's proposed $50 million investment to endow a research fund. The Associated Press, The Charleston Gazette, MetroNews and the Herald-Dispatch of Huntington are among those with stories.

ABORTION: Manchin tells MetroNews' Talkline show that he would sign a pending bill "that would stop state money from funding for elective abortions for poor women." The governor "says, philosophically, funding for those elective abortions should not be part of the basic health care expenditures of the state," MetroNews reports. With audio.

'CAPTIVE' MEETINGS: Following some disagreement over the measure when it was crafted during interim meetings, lawmakers have introduced a bill "that would bar employers from forcing workers to hear talks on religious or labor matters," the Register-Herald of Beckley reports.

DRIVING WHILE DIALING: The House Roads and Transportation Committee voted down a bill Wednesday "
that would have outlawed drivers talking on hand-held cell phones," The Gazette reports. Some committee members called for an interim study instead.

REAL ID: West Virginia could join the roster of states "refusing to change what appears on their driver's licenses to meet new national security standards," The State Journal reports.

PUBLIC TV (Update): The new director of the state Educational Broadcasting Authority told lawmakers he's arrived to find a "gaping hole" in his TV stations' audience: the 18-to-49 demographic. The Gazette has details.

DNR (Update): As part of its ongoing scrutiny of the state budget, the Charleston Daily Mail reports that "a decline in hunting and fishing license sales has left a $1.8 million budget hole for the state Division of Natural Resources."

Legislature 2008: Teachers

Oft-competing groups representing teachers have come out strong - and united - to decry Gov. Joe Manchin's teacher pay raise package.

"Leaders of the West Virginia Education Association, American Federation of Teachers-West Virginia and the West Virginia School Service Personnel Association issued a rare joint release Wednesday, calling the governor's proposals misleading and divisive," The Associated Press reports.

"The unions say the proposed 5.5 percent salary increase is not an accurate projection because the governor's proposal requires counties to use local share funds to pay it," the article said.

Election 2008: Short Takes (Updated)

Besides the big splash made by WVU law professor Bob Bastress into the two-seat Supreme Court race, other candidates have filed or announced plans to run in advance of Saturday's midnight deadline:

  • (Update): With a 2 p.m. announcement expected from Weeks, a freshman legislator filed Thursday to challenge Manchin in the primary. Delegate Mel Kessler, D-Raleigh, entered the race this morning, The Associated Press reports.
Secretary of State Betty Ireland has a searchable roster of candidate filings to date. The Herald-Dispatch of Huntington also offers some filing information for regional candidates.

Bastress Throws Down in Supreme Court Race

WVU law professor Robert Bastress came out swinging Wednesday after filing candidacy papers for the state Supreme Court.

As The Associated Press reports, Bastress pointed to the MonacoGate scandal to declare that "public confidence in the courts is at a low ebb, and for good reason."

Bastress faulted his would-be primary opponent, fellow Democrat and Chief Justice Elliott "Spike" Maynard, both for his Riviera rendezvous with Massey Energy's Don Blankenship and for insisting that the ensuing concerns raised were "nonsense."

But Bastress also said that Justices Larry Starcher and Brent Benjamin should recuse themselves from the pending matter involving Massey as well. Law enforcement should also investigate the allegations raised by Starcher on Tuesday, Bastress said.

"At least a half-dozen legislators were on hand for Bastress' filing. They included wife Barbara Evans Fleischauer, a Monongalia County delegate," AP reports. "His campaign treasurer is Frank Cleckley, a former Supreme Court justice and a fellow WVU law professor."

Update: MetroNews reports both on Bastress' splash plus the latest in the case from which Maynard has recused himself.

23 January 2008

Short Takes from the Session: Day 14

DUI: Mothers Against Drunk Driving plans to champion a bill, previewed by The Register-Herald of Beckley, that "that calls for mandatory use of interlocks on motor vehicles and harsher penalties for 'aggravated DUI'"

TIMBER: If state revenues remain healthy, Senate Finance Chairman Walt Helmick tells MetroNews he wants to apply any surplus toward offsetting the severance tax on timber. The Pocahontas County Democrat argues the tax cut could help the industry that employs 30,000 weather economic downturns. With audio.

LAWSUIT VENUES: The Charleston Gazette reports on progress for a bill sought by Gov. Joe Manchin, to close a loophole resulting from last year's effort to limit lawsuits filed by out-of-state plaintiffs.

INSURANCE: "Feeling they have run into a stone wall in trying to make the insurance commissioner accountable to the Legislature," a pair of delegates have revived a push begun last year to switch that executive branch office from appointed to elected, The Register-Herald reports.

The move would requires a constitutional amendment, but one of the lawmakers alleges
that insurance rates are lower "in every state where the voters fill the office, rather than the governor."

Legislature 2008: Abortion

This session's top abortion-related measure is likely a bill "that would limit the amount of Medicaid dollars the state spends on the procedure to those cases in which the federal government requires it," The Associated Press reports.

AP's Tom Breen talked to bill supporters as well as to opponents who "point to the state’s steadily declining abortion rate as evidence that new legislation isn’t required to reduce the number of abortions in West Virginia."

Breen also checked in with state Medicaid officials, who estimate that abortion procedures cost the program $228,000 during the budget year that ended Jun 30. "That number will likely increase, though, as doctors have up to a year to bill Medicaid for services," the article said.

Spike and Don: The Saga Continues

The recusal by Supreme Court Chief Justice Elliott "Spike" Maynard from a case involving Massey Energy Co. has not ended the ruckus over his ties to its head honcho, Don Blankenship.

Fellow Justice Larry Starcher has demanded a probe into ‘‘extremely serious legal and ethical issues’’ about their dealings, The Associated Press reports.

Starcher reveals that he and perhaps court officials have been fielding allegations about their relationship for "the past year." Possible evidence goes beyond the photos of their 2006 Monaco meet-up, he writes in a Tuesday memo.

Providing no details, and conceding the information remains unproven, Starcher also said he is prepared to share what he knows with investigators.

"The reported information raises questions about whether there may have been actual rather than the appearance of impropriety,'' Starcher wrote. "I also believe that some of the alleged matters raise issues that are within the jurisdiction of authorities other than those directly associated with this Court.''

Starcher himself has weathered allegations of a less-than-impartial attitude in the case. Massey has cited his public comments critical of the company, Blankenship and some of his political activities.

The Charleston Gazette also has a story. Public Broadcasting has it as well, and also offers audio and a link to Starcher's memo.

The Thompson Factor in W.Va.

And then there were five.

More than the rest of the departed GOP field combined, Fred Thompson's decision to withdraw from the Republican presidential race has an impact on West Virginia.

As The Associated Press reports, "The actor and former Tennessee senator had the third-largest bloc" of delegates heading to the state party's Feb. 5 convention.

Thompson picked up 50 of his 103 delegates in the recent voting to settle contested at-large seats. Additional gains were likely from late results due from Mineral and Monongalia counties, and as party officials fill vacancies.

Thompson had also raised more than $26,000 from West Virginians as of Sept. 30, the third largest total among Republican candidates despite his late entry in the race. (The fourth-quarter filing from 2007 is due at the end of the month).

And Thompson had attracted several notable Republican figures to his Mountain State effort. Led by former party Executive Director Gary Abernathy, they included a dozen lawmakers, at least five county chairs, anti-abortion lobbyist Melissa Adkins, former Young Republicans chief Charles Bolen and Greg Thomas, political operative for Don Blankenship.

Manchin Makes It Official

Gov. Joe Manchin is getting the band back together.

Tuesday's re-election filing featured
"many of the business and labor leaders whose groups helped form the wide-ranging coalition that propelled Manchin from the secretary of state's office to the governor's mansion in 2004," The Associated Press reports.

He also had several lawmakers on hand -- fellow Democrats -- including House Speaker Rick Thompson and Senate President Earl Ray Tomblin.

Manchin is the only candidate to file for governor so far, the Secretary of State's Office reports. The deadline is midnight Saturday, and the filing fee is $1,500.

While the GOP is expected to challenge Manchin, state party Chairman Doug McKinney predicts tough sledding.

You're dealing with a guy with better than 70 percent approval rating, and the ability to raise tons of money,'' McKinney told AP. "Any candidate would have to campaign full-time, raise a couple of million dollars and travel to every county in the state. It's hard to get people to commit to that.''

Manchin already has $2.1 million on hand for his campaign, boasts Nick Casey, McKinney's Democratic counterpart.

There was plenty of media on hand for Manchin's announcement, including The Register-Herald of Beckley, The Charleston Gazette, MetroNews (with audio), and WOWK-TV.

MetroNews also hears from some Republican lawmakers on Manchin's track record. With audio.

22 January 2008

Lawmakers Revive "Marriage Protection Amendment"

A proposed constitutional ban of same-sex marriage in the Mountain State has returned to the legislative agenda, as a measure "to accord West Virginia voters a chance to define marriage as an act between one man and one woman," The Register-Herald reports.

The state has a law achieving that, enacted in 2000. "
The reason that a constitutional amendment is needed is because the law can always be challenged in the Supreme Court,” Delegate Linda Sumner, R-Raleigh and one of 11 sponsors, told the Beckley newspaper.

Legislature 2008: Taxes

Gov. Joe Manchin has proposed a property tax break for aircraft, arguing it could increase passenger service while making West Virginia airports more attractive as storage and maintenance hubs.

"We're looking at an industry that we think we can make some strides in," Manchin spokeswoman Lara Ramsburg told The Associated Press. "We've got a growing aerospace industry."

Supporters include Sen. John Yoder, R-Jefferson, who proposed a similar measure last year. AP reports that Yoder "cited research by Berkeley County Assessor Preston Gooden, estimating that the loss from slashing property taxes would be more than offset by new jobs, increased fuel sales and the building of hangars and related facilities."

MonacoGate Update

  • The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette opines that Benjamin should follow the lead of Chief Justice Elliott "Spike" Maynard: "If justice is not only to be done but also, for the sake of public confidence in the court, to appear to be done, Justice Benjamin should recuse himself as well." The editorial also calls for the withdrawal of Maynard's vote in the Harman reversal, "although it's not clear whether that's possible."
  • MetroNews Talkline host Hoppy Kercheval questions the need for Benjamin's recusal, while advocating Starcher's.

DaughterGate Makes Another Splash

The New York Times now delves into the questions surrounding the EMBA degree awarded Mylan executive and Manchin daughter Heather Bresch, reporting that "the inquiry has mushroomed into a controversy that risks casting a shadow of cronyism over this state’s flagship university:"

Ms. Bresch has insisted that she earned her degree, and university officials have blamed a failure to transfer records for nearly half of her course work to the appropriate office for the situation, as documents were moved to electronic format from paper. But so far, the university and Ms. Bresch have not produced copies of her transcripts, receipts or other proof of her having paid for course work, or documents from the courses where grades seemed to have been entered years after “incompletes” were given.

21 January 2008

Capito Makes Pitch for Veteran Care

U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-2nd, wants the U.S. Department of Defense to expand its services for veterans suffering from traumatic brain injuries to treatment centers beyond the one in Richmond, Va., she tells the Charleston Daily Mail.

At least 50 West Virginia soldiers recently in combat have been diagnosed with these conditions, described as being "caused by a blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain," she told the newspaper.

Capitol testified last week before the House Veterans Affairs Committee to tout a bill she's co-sponsored that would expand rural-based treatment options under a pilot program. The committee also offers audio from the hearing.

Legislature 2008: Teachers (Updated)

The West Virginia Education Association hopes thousands of its members and allies will spend part of their holiday Monday rallying at the Capitol for teacher pay raises.

With the Legislature in session, the teachers' group hopes a show of numbers will propel their counter-proposal to Gov. Joe Manchin's legislative agenda.

Manchin has asked lawmakers to approve a 3 percent pay hike, $400 raises for all classroom teachers and $20 million worth of bonuses to recruit teachers to counties and subject areas suffering from shortages.

WVEA's goal is "reaching the national average in employee salaries in the next three years (approximately 8% each year) and increasing the beginning salary to $35,000."

The competing American Federation of Teachers-West Virginia, which rallied with school service workers before Jan. 9's State of the State address, has a similar proposal. "
AFT wants a $5,000 increase the first year and $2,500 a year for the subsequent two years," the Herald-Dispatch reported over the weekend.

The Huntington newspaper also compared West Virginia's pay rate with that of its neighbors, while noting that "clouding the straight pay comparisons is the variance in cost of living from state to state."

Update: MetroNews quotes a recent floor speech by Sen. Frank Deem, R-Wood, on the last impact of any raises on future state budgets: "I just hope and make these remarks so we'll be aware, conscious, of keeping this state fiscally sound and not....grant pay raises that future Legislature's will have to pay for."

2nd Update: Those who covered the rally include The Associated Press, MetroNews (which also offers a response from Team Manchin and audio from the rally), the Herald-Dispatch of Huntington, The Charleston Gazette and Public Broadcasting.

Spike & Don: We'll Always Have Monte Carlo

Though he's recused himself from the Harman Mining case, Supreme Court Chief Justice Elliott "Spike" Maynard may not be through the tumult over his relationship with Massey Energy Co's Don Blankenship.

As The Associated Press reports, West Virginia's sole appeals court has other cases involving the coal producer. The list of expected appeals, meanwhile, includes a $239 million judgment won by Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Co. last year.

"Separately, Maynard is running for re-election this year and at least one Democratic primary opponent has already raised questions about his Monaco meet-up," AP reports. "Also, Maynard has promised to release “receipts and records” some time this week to answer allegations that Blankenship subsidized his July 2006 jaunt to Europe."

As for the Harman case, "A motion for the Supreme Court to rehear the case is pending. But the attorney for the plaintiff says Maynard’s recusal today could lead to the original verdict against Massey being upheld," Public Broadcasting reports (with audio).

Harman's president, Hugh Caperton, also commented on Friday's development and what lies ahead to The Register-Herald of Beckley.

Short Takes from the Session: Day 13

JAIL COSTS: Counties would pay only half the daily rate for locking up inmates at regional jails "if they’re behind bars less than a dozen hours," under a pending bill highlighted by The Register-Herald of Beckley.

After much debate and compromise among stakeholders, it appears this could be the year that the West Virginia Legislature helps cities stabilize their drastically underfunded police and fire pensions," the Herald-Dispatch of Huntington reports. "The result is a comprehensive reform bill that Kanawha County Sen. Dan Foster will introduce in the next week or two."

PRISON COSTS: A separate area of the state budget than regional jails, the Division of Corrections has seen expenses from its prison system nearly double in just seven years. But Senate Judiciary Chairman Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall, cites West Virginia's relatively low crime rate to argue instead that a "concerted effort must be made to reduce prison population in the Mountain State," MetroNews reports.

I've yet to see any studies that would indicate over the last decade West Virginia has become a more violent state, a more dangerous state," Kessler told MetroNews (audio here.) "But the statistics would seem to indicate that we have twice the prison population."

LICENSE TO LEARN: (Update) The Denver-based Education Commission of the States "
is cautioning West Virginia officials against tying teenagers' driving privileges to academic performance," The Charleston Daily Mail reports.

SUGAR-FREE SCHOOLS: (Update) Sen. Ron Stollings, D-Boone and one of four physician-legislators, explains to The Register-Herald his push to "outlaw sugar-laden soft drinks and candy bars in schools, replacing them with healthy beverages, such as 100 percent fruit juices, high-fiber snacks and low-fat foods."

20 January 2008

Getting the Big Drift, er, Draft

West Virginia's congressional delegation is expected to co-sponsor or otherwise support a “Wild Monongahela Act” to set aside more than 47,000 West Virginia acres for federal protection, the Sunday Gazette-Mail reports.

The legislation encompasses seven parcels, including Big Draft, "a 5,200-acre oak and hickory forest just five miles from White Sulphur Springs," the Charleston newspaper reported. "The areas would become the first new wilderness areas in West Virginia in nearly 25 years."

The proposal "includes three additional areas covering nearly 20,000 more acres of wilderness than was proposed by the U.S. Forest Service in a plan issued in September 2006," the story also notes, but is "less ambitious than wilderness expansions being promoted by various state environmental and conservation groups."

The Gazette-Mail also offers a graphic as well as detailed maps showing how the legislation would expand existing wilderness areas and create new ones.

Depending on who now owns the land affected, county officials may wince at the removal of additional territory from their potential property tax rolls.

Duncan Hunter's W.Va. Factor

Before dropping his presidential bid Saturday, Duncan Hunter had been one of seven GOP contenders registered for the West Virginia Republican Party's Feb. 5 convention.

And though he had attracted four delegates to the state convention, none of his at-large candidates survived the recent voting.

Hunter had also raised $650 from three West Virginians by Sept. 30, according to the latest available Federal Election Commission filings.

Quote of the Day

"We’ve talked to people all across the state encouraging people to run, but nobody wants to do it. He’s richer than Croesus."

-- Dr. Douglas McKinney, state Republican chairman, to The Associated Press' Tom Breen on efforts to recruit a challenger to U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va.

Rocky Hits The Campaign Circuit

Incumbents seeking re-election, they say, fare best when they either run unopposed or run scared.

Perhaps mindful of that adage, U.S. Sen. Jay Rockeller, D-W.Va., criss-crossed the state last week to launch his bid for a fifth term.

"I don’t want to sound schmaltzy,’’ Rockefeller told The Associated Press' Tom Breen . ‘‘I’ve been here for 44 years. West Virginia completely changed my life."

Breen also reports that "Although there’s plenty of time left to field a candidate, no Republican has stepped forward to challenge the state’s junior senator, and the GOP’s state chairman thinks it’s unlikely that will change."

Among some of Rockefeller's other newsroom stops last week: