10 May 2008

Election 2008: President

  • The Associated Press reports that nearly 50,000 West Virginians had cast early ballots in advance of Saturday's deadline, a record for a primary election. But while 71% of the early voters have been Democrats, and the presidential race has likely fueled some of the numbers, "officials in some counties said they had expected even higher turnouts."
  • AP also reports on the planned Mother's Day visits to Grafton and Eleanor by Hillary Clinton and daughter Chelsea.
  • The Herald-Dispatch of Huntington is among those with details of Barack Obama's slated Monday appearance at the Charleston Civic Center.
  • MetroNews reports on Obama's comments that "We're still competing and (Clinton's) going to do very well in West Virginia and Kentucky. She will win those states in all likelihood."
  • Those offering overviews of West Virginia's presidential primary as Tuesday approaches include The Intelligencer of Wheeling, The Gazette and CNN. The latter interviews WCHS-TV reporter Kennie Bass for its story.

ARG: Clinton 66%, Obama 23% in W.Va.

American Research Group surveyed 562 Democrats and 38 unaffiliated likely voters Wednesday and Thursday.

With a margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points, 6% were undecided and 5% said the would vote for "someone else."

09 May 2008

Primary 2008 Shorts

  • Public Broadcasting highlights the Republican race for state attorney general. Among other items, it notes that candidate Hiram Lewis was fined during a recent hearing in which he defended a funeral home targeted by current AG Darrell McGraw. "Earlier in the proceedings, Lewis told the Judge that he had a dream, he believed it was a message from God, that the Judge would recuse himself from the case," the story said. With audio.
  • MetroNews' Talkline interviewed Democratic secretary of state candidate Joe DeLong. With audio.
  • The Journal of Martinsburg profiled GOP secretary of state candidate Charles Minimah.
  • Current Secretary of State Betty Ireland "is cautioning voters not to be misled by a mailing sent to thousands of West Virginians asking them to register to vote," the Herald-Dispatch of Huntington reports. "These mailings could cause confusion because the deadline to register to vote in Tuesday’s May 13, primary has already passed.
  • The Martinsburg newspaper also reports on the Republican's candidate for governor, former state Sen. Russ Weeks.
  • MetroNews notes that the state GOP "is in the process of revising its platform, something that's done every four years. A step in the process will come Saturday at the Charleston Civic Center and other venues across the state as part of a meeting focused on the issues the Party supports," the report said.

Election 2008: President (Updated)

  • (Update) AP's Tom Breen files from the road as he continues to track the former president's multi-town sweep through West Virginia. "Hillary Rodham Clinton is counting on a victory in West Virginia, and it's her husband's job to run up the score," Breen writes.
  • (Update) CBS News has posted video on YouTube of the former president's exchange with, as AP reported, "a heckler in Fayetteville who shouted that neither he nor Hillary had done anything to work toward universal health coverage during his presidency."
  • As one of West Virginia's several holdout "superdelegates," Gov. Joe Manchin remains uncommitted to either campaign, his spokeswoman tells MetroNews (with audio.)
  • (Update) Public Broadcasting compares JFK's message from West Virginia's 1960 primary, the last one to attract such national attention, with that of Clinton and Obama. With video.
  • (Update) the Charleston Daily Mail reports that "Sen. Jay Rockefeller and Rep. Nick Rahall, two of West Virginia's superdelegates backing Barack Obama, say they're sticking with him despite polls showing Hillary Clinton a heavy favorite in the state."

DaughterGate Update

  • The Charleston Gazette reports that "Students, faculty and alumni at West Virginia University continue to apply pressure on President Mike Garrison to resign," and "a new faculty-led group, Mountaineers for Integrity and Responsibility, formed Wednesday with just such a goal."
  • The Charleston Daily Mail focuses on protesting students, while also reporting that WVU policies "apparently would have permitted President Mike Garrison to fire two high-ranking academic officials for their part in awarding Gov. Joe Manchin's daughter a degree she hadn't earned."
  • The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that "Garrison, who has repeatedly said he washed his hands of Mylan Inc. executive Heather Bresch's disputed M.B.A. degree after her initial call, discussed the matter in a briefing with his chief of staff and other top aides late the following day."
  • (Update) Former state higher education official John Hoblitzell tells MetroNews Talkline that "President Garrison should resign and Board of Governors Chair Steve Goodwin should step aside from the decision making in this instance." With audio.
  • (Update) The Daily Mail also reports that "West Virginia University Police have confiscated fliers on campus that read 'Kill Joe Manchin' and 'Kill a WVU BOG member today in large, bold letters."
  • (Update) Charleston's afternoon paper reports as well on how Morgantown publisher, industrialist and GOP figure John Raese "said he has contributed to WVU in the past and will in the future but 'won't give a nickel' as long as Mike Garrison is president."

They Voted For You: Foreclosures

U.S. Reps. Alan Mollohan, D-1st, Shelley Moore Capito, R-2nd, and Nick Rahall, D-3rd, all voted for the "Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2008."

Passed 266-154, the measure reflects "a
massive homeowner rescue plan to provide cheaper, government-backed mortgages to half a million debt-ridden borrowers and bolster an economy crippled by the housing crisis," The Associated Press reports.

"Supporters hope the package — which awaits action in the Senate — will serve as the basis for a broad bipartisan housing compromise that could satisfy both parties' keen appetite for delivering election-year aid to anxious constituents," the AP article said.

President Bush has threatened to veto the bill as-is, and Capito was among just 34 House Republicans who voted for it.

"Republicans argued the package reward lenders and irresponsible borrowers at the expense of homeowners and renters who made more prudent choices and are straining to cover their costs in a punishing economic climate," AP reported.

Update: Capito's office has issued a press release explaining her vote and her successful amendment to the legislation "to expand flexibility for service veterans participating in the Veterans Affairs Home Loan Programs."

Election 2008: Supreme Court

  • The Associated Press reports that non-candidate spending on ads in the two-seat race has topped $617,000, a sum that exceeds or rivals what the candidates themselves had expended "in all other statewide primary contests."
  • Public Broadcasting focuses on the court campaigns going negative in advance of Tuesday's vote.

08 May 2008

Election 2008: President (Updated)

With Hillary Clinton and the former president each campaigning in West Virginia today, The Associated Press' Tom Breen sketches an overview of the primary election terrain.

"Obama's strengths are among black voters and college-educated voters, but only 3.3 percent of West Virginians are black and only 16. 5 percent of residents have bachelor's degrees," the article said. "For Clinton, the state is nearly ideal: She has consistently outperformed Obama among white, older and blue-collar voters in competitive primaries."

Breen will be tracking Bill Clinton and his barnstorming tour through the state. AP will also be on hand for Hillary Clinton's rally at the state Capitol.

Others setting the stage for the day's events include The Charleston Gazette, The Intelligencer of Wheeling and WSAZ-TV (with video).

Update: AP reports from Hillary Clinton's Capitol rally. So does the Charleston Daily Mail, which also hosts photos. MetroNews has audio. WSAZ-TV has video.

07 May 2008

Eyes Turn To W.Va. (Updated)

The Clinton and Obama camps have announced a flurry of personal and surrogate appearances in the wake of Tuesday's results in North Carolina and Indiana:

  • Former Mississippi Gov. Ray Mabus will stump for Barack Obama in Charleston and Parkersburg today, his campaign announced;
  • Hillary Clinton headed to Shepherd University today for a “Solutions for the American Economy” event at noon. MetroNews has coverage and audio (updated);
  • The New York senator also expects to lead a Thursday morning rally at the state Capitol, The Associated Press reports;
  • AP also reports that former President Clinton plans to return to the state Thursday and visit "Philippi, Sutton, Fayetteville, Lewisburg, and Mercer County;"
  • MetroNews and Public Broadcasting touch on recent polling that shows Clinton with a formidable lead over Obama among likely Democratic primary voters;
  • The Parkersburg News sets the stage as the Democrats' presidential contest arrives in the Mountain State.

Weeks Readies Legislative Pay Lawsuit

The Charleston Gazette reports on a draft of the lawsuit that Russ Weeks, a former state senator and the's GOP candidate for governor, plans to file to challenge a retroactive increase to certain legislative per diem payments.

The lawsuit "will cite four main reasons why the hike should be overturned," the newspaper reports, and alleges that the retroactive hike "amounts to an abuse of office, an offense occurring too often in this state ..."

Election 2008: Supreme Court (Updated)

  • The Associated Press delves into the combined 142 years of legal experience of the race's Democratic candidates, while asking each about the one case from their careers that sticks out in their minds;
  • A poll by TSG Consulting shows Menis Ketchum and Margaret Workman ahead in the Democratic field, but with 40 percent undecided and an error of margin of +/- 5.1%, The Charleston Gazette reports;
  • The Herald-Dispatch of Huntington profiles the race and reports that "recent scandals and perceived conflicts of interest are at the top of citizens' lists of things to correct when two justices are elected to the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals in November."
  • AP highlights the money race to date: "Lawyers remain the most generous source of campaign cash for West Virginia's Supreme Court races, with the coal industry and physicians also contributing significant sums to this year's candidates."

06 May 2008

One Week To Go (Updated)

As West Virginia wraps up early voting and approaches its May 13 primary:

  • The Associated Press' Tom Breen previews the Democratic primary match-up between Gov. Joe Manchin and Delegate Mel Kessler of Raleigh County.
  • The Mountain Party, the only third party with ballot status in the state, has announced endorsements and delegates to the national convention of its affiliated Green Party, The Gazette reports.
  • (Update) The Charleston Daily Mail scrutinizes e-mails to and from Supreme Court candidate Bob Bastress, a West Virginia University law professor.
  • (Update) WSAZ-TV reports on a poll showing Manchin with 63%, Kessler with 20% and 17% undecided among likely primary voters.

05 May 2008

Faculty Senate Votes No Confidence in Garrison (Updated)

The tally was 77-19 with one abstention. As The Associated Press reports, the measure "demands that Garrison step down, or that the WVU Board of Governors require his resignation."

"The Faculty Senate’s action represents only a recommendation," MetroNews observes. "Neither Garrison nor the Board of Governors has to follow the vote. But it does represent a strong feeling by the faculty."

MetroNews also has audio.

Update: MetroNews also has video of the resolution motion, the final vote and Senate reaction. It also has the text of Garrison's responding statement.

Others with reports include The Charleston Gazette, The Daily Athenaeum, Public Broadcasting (with audio) and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Rasmussen: Clinton 56%, Obama 27% in W.Va. (Updated)

Rasmussen polled 840 Democratic primary voters over the weekend to find that Hillary Clinton continues to maintain the 2-to-1 edge over Barack Obama indicated by the firm's mid-March survey.

Clinton is viewed favorably by 72% of West Virginia’s Primary Voters, Obama by 48%," Rasmussen said in a release. "Clinton’s numbers are unchanged while Obama’s ratings have dropped five percentage points."

The poll was released amid news that presumptive GOP nominee John McCain plans to visit West Virginia on May 16. The Associated Press has a story.

Rasmussen found that "72% say they’re at least somewhat likely to vote for Clinton over McCain in the general election. However, only 56% say they’re somewhat or very likely to vote for Obama."

Update: Hillary Clinton has announced a Thursday appearance in Charleston, AP reports.

Update II: The margin of error was +/- 3.5 percentage points. Among other findings:

  • Clinton's favorability rating remains unchanged from March, at 72%, while Obama's has dropped from 53% to 48%.
  • The economy and the war in Iraq remain the top two issues among the voters polled.
  • President Bush's disapproval rating edged up by a point, to 85%.
  • Gov. Joe Manchin's approval rating dipped from 57% to 53%.

ATVs in W.Va.

The Register-Herald offers a series examining the popularity of all-terrain vehicles in the Mountain State, the record high fatality rate and the long-running legislative debate over safety regulations.

The Beckley newspaper reports that the state's ATV laws are "more lax than surrounding states," and notes the lack of successful legislation this year in the face of "a comprehensive 64-page study of West Virginia ATV deaths and injuries compiled by the state Bureau for Public Health and the Criminal Justice Statistical Center."

WVU Faculty to Weigh In on DaughterGate (Updated)

The Associated Press sets the stage for today's meeting of WVU's Faculty Senate and its consideration of resolutions responding to the DaughterGate scandal.

But AP also reports that even if faculty vote no confidence in President Mike Garrison, "it's unclear whether it will be anything more than symbolic. Garrison has repeatedly said he won't resign, and he has powerful backers in his corner, including Gov. Joe Manchin and WVU Board of Governors members he appointed."

MetroNews also previews the day's possible actions, as does The Daily Athenaeum. WVU's student-run newspaper also reports that "four West Virginia University head athletics coaches spoke out in support" of Garrison over the weekend.
(Update: the Charleston Daily Mail is among those focusing on the timing and handling of the endorsements.)

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette took a step back in a Sunday story that offers the recent report on DaughterGate as "a detailed, inside look at how far officials were willing to go for the governor's daughter, inventing explanations, falsifying her records and repeatedly misleading the public."

AP also earlier reported on the scandal's potential impact on WVU donors.

Update: West Virginia Media interviewed Garrison, and offers video in six parts along with commentary. The Charleston Gazette, meanwhile, reported that W.Va. Media "originally planned to feature Garrison critic Peter J. Kalis and others, but the station canceled Kalis after it secured an interview with Garrison."

"Selection Day" for Teacher Pension Transfers

As The Associated Press reports, Monday marks the day for Teachers' Defined Contribution plan enrollees to hand in the paperwork necessary to allow them to transfer into a different retirement program.

"Officials expect heavy turnout for 'Selection Day.,'" AP reports. "Supporters certainly hope that's the case: just 2,251 (TDC) participants had requested transfers as of Friday, according the latest figure posted by the state's Consolidated Public Retirement Board."

"Transfers will occur only if at least 65 percent, or 12,343 enrollees, make that choice," the article said. "Those who don't would still keep their individual TDC accounts."

AP also details some of the hurdles facing the transfer process, including a tight time window, while also hearing from TDC enrollees who want to keep their individual investment accounts.

also reports on "Selection Day."

Election 2008 Shorts (Updated)

  • The Intelligencer of Wheeling compares Gov. Joe Manchin with his Democratic primary rival, Delegate Mel Kessler of Raleigh County, on the topic of coal liquefaction.
  • The Associated Press finds that Barack Obama's campaign is focusing on the coal issue Monday: "Illinois State Rep. Dan Reitz, a former coal miner, is scheduled to visit with miners in Beckley and take a tour of coal extraction technology at West Virginia University Tech," AP reports. (Update) Reitz talked to MetroNews, as did a New York farmer stumping for Hillary Clinton in the Eastern Panhandle. Audio from both here.)
  • A National Rifle Association official and U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-2nd, helped headline a Berkeley County event where GOP officials predicted that "discontent Americans, upset with problems common to most people — including the rising cost of gasoline — will provide the momentum behind Republican victories in upcoming 2008 elections," The Journal of Martinsburg reports.
  • The Journal also focuses on the Obama campaigns efforts in the Eastern Panhandle in advance of next Tuesday's primary.
  • The Gazette also crunches some campaign finance numbers in the state Supreme Court race.
  • (Update) The AP's Tom Breen talks to some of the 2008 candidates considered longshots, including Kessler and U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller's two Democratic primary challengers.

The Pros and Cons of Downsizing Government

Figures tracked down by The Charleston Gazette appear to flesh out the Manchin administration's pledge to reduce the size of state government.

"Currently, state government is budgeted to operate with a total of 38,460 full-time equivalent positions," the article said. "However, as of Friday, according to figures from the Budget Office, there were a total of 3,419 vacant full-time positions - or nearly one job in 10."

The Gazette further found that Health and Human Resources topped that tally, with 640 vacant positions out of 6,250 budgeted. The Division of Highways followed with 598 out of 4,498.

The review had been prompted by a recent Capitol rally of environmentalists and union workers, who believe vacancies at the Department of Environmental Protection impair DEP's "ability to enforce the Clean Water Act," the article said (while finding 94 unfilled positions out of 911).

The article also cites a public employees' union official, who said that "while cutting the size of state government sounds good in theory, it appears to be coming at the expense of agencies being able to perform vital services."