16 May 2008

They Voted For You: Iraq Funding

U.S. Reps. Alan Mollohan, D-1st, and Shelley Moore Capito, R-2nd, voted for a $163 billion measure that contains the Bush Administration's Iraq war funding request and other spending provisions.

But the effort failed, 141-149. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-3rd, voted against the legislation, while "132 Republicans sat out the vote in protest," The Associated Press reports.

"The practical effect of the GOP protest is likely to be minimal," the article said. "While it kills the war funding component of the bill for now, the Senate is sure to revive it next week."

Election 2008: President

The Associated Press previews Friday's slated visit by presumptive GOP nominee John McCain to a St. Albans gun and archery store. WOWK-TV also has a setup, with video.

Update: AP, The Charleston Gazette and the Charleston Daily Mail all offer coverage. WSAZ-TV has coverage and raw video of the visit, and The Journal of Martinsburg spoke to some of its local participants.

Public Broadcasting, meanwhile, sifts through the result of the Democrats' presidential primary.

"Barack Obama suffered his biggest defeat yet in West Virginia’s primary election Tuesday, and the state’s image is taking a hit," the report said. "The Democratic primary shined a spotlight onto West Virginia -- and what it revealed about race and religious prejudice in West Virginia isn’t pretty."

With audio. Update: Public Broadcasting also spoke to the state's Democratic and Republican Party chairmen about the role of race and religion in the primary.

The piece also touches on The Daily Show's take on the West Virginia primary. The Comedy Central program's video segment is here.

They Voted For You: Strategic Petroleum Reserve

Sens. Robert C. Byrd and Jay Rockefeller contributed to the 97-1 passage of an amendment that aims "to increase the supply and lower the cost of petroleum by temporarily suspending the acquisition of petroleum for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve."

The U.S. House also passed the measure 385-25, with the help of Reps. Shelley Moore Capito, R-2nd, and Nick Rahall, D-3rd. Alan Mollohan, D-1st, did not vote.

The Associated Press
offers some details.

Teacher Pensions Prompt Lawsuit

While the state await results from the potential exodus from its 401(k)-style retirement plan for educators, a lawsuit seeking class-action status targets the program's handling.

As The Associated Press reports, the lawsuit alleges that members of the Teachers' Defined Contribution plan "were steered toward an investment that performed only slightly better than some savings accounts, and that some of them had wrongly been lured away from a traditional pension."

The case focuses on an investment option offered to TDC enrollees by VALIC.

"VALIC engaged in a systematic scheme of hiring agents, with whom the teachers, school service personnel and professional staff were familiar,'' AP quotes the plaintiffs' lawyers as saying. "We believe many of the representations made by these VALIC agents were not factually based and were clearly fraudulent in character.''

The Charleston Gazette and MetroNews also report on the lawsuit, with the latter offering audio from one of the suing lawyers.

They Voted For You: Farm Bill

U.S. Sens. Robert C. Byrd and Jay Rockefeller, both D-W.Va., helped pass the Food and Energy Security Act on an 81-15 vote.

The $290 billion farm bill "will increase food aid for the needy as well as subsidies for farmers enjoying record high incomes," The Associated Press reports.

"Rising food costs put political pressure on lawmakers to boost money for food stamps and other nutrition programs," the article said. "The bill's fate appeared bleak until House Speaker Nancy Pelosi intervened and forced farm-state negotiators to divert money from farm subsidies to food programs."

The state's House delegation, Reps. Alan Mollohan, D-1st, Shelley Moore Capito, R-2nd, and Nick Rahall, D-3rd, had all helped pass the measure in that chamber Wednesday, 318-106.

President Bush has threatened to veto the measure, but AP notes it garnered enough support for an override in both the House and Senate.

15 May 2008

Primay Turnout

The Associated Press reports that about 40 percent of West Virginia's registered voters turned out for the May 13 primary, citing unofficial figures from the secretary of state.

Those focusing on local turnout include the Herald-Dispatch of Huntington and The Journal of Martinsburg.

Others looking to the upcoming canvassing of votes include The Times West Virginian of Fairmont and The Parkersburg News.

Election 2008: Supreme Court

The Associated Press examines the role Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship played in Tuesday's defeat of his longtime friend, Supreme Court Chief Justice Elliott "Spike" Maynard.

"I don't think that helped Justice Maynard a bit, to be associated with Don Blankenship, even if Don Blankenship was not actively involved in his campaign," state Democratic Party Chairman Nick Casey told AP.

In Maynard's (and Blankenship's) native Mingo County, the Williamson Daily News reports that Maynard captured the top spot in that county -- but no other.

The State Journal also focuses on the MonacoGate factor, while questioning as well whether "a bigger reason for Maynard's defeat is that West Virginia does not have a solid pro-business voting block within the Democratic Party."

, meanwhile, talked to primary winner Menis Ketchum, who "believes outside groups will attack him in the months leading up to the November General Election."

"If attacked, I'll do just like this time," he told MetroNews. With audio.

Update: The Charleston Daily Mail also sifts through the results.

Election 2008: Governor

The Charleston Gazette attempts to analyze Gov. Joe Manchin's primary win over freshman lawmaker Mel Kessler with 75 percent of the vote.

The Register-Herald of Beckley reports that former local state senator Russ Weeks, the GOP nominee, "is insisting on a series of seven regional debates."

The Beckley paper also reports that the Democrat Kessler, like Weeks a Raleigh Countian, has endorsed the Republican, "
even offering to let him have his car to meet voters"

DaughterGate Update

The resolution may be nonbinding, but 565 members of West Virginia University's faculty voted Wednesday to demand that "embattled President Mike Garrison quit over a master's degree scandal involving the governor's daughter," The Associated Press reports.

Just 39 faculty members opposed the measure while 11 abstained in "the second call for his resignation in 10 days," the article said.

"Professors hope the latest no-confidence vote on Garrison's leadership will be harder to ignore because more faculty members were involved," AP's Vicki Smith reported. " Garrison acknowledged the vote in a prepared statement, but reiterated he plans to stay in the job."

The Charleston Gazette also has a story. So does the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, which also offers video.

MetroNews has a report and audio, while Talkline Host Hoppy Kercheval opines that the vote has effectively ended Garrison's presidency.

The Daily Athenaeum
has coverage as well. Public Broadcasting has an audio report.

Election 2008: President

Those crunching the numbers to add West Virginia delegates to Clinton and Obama's tallies include The Charleston Gazette.

"Clinton's landslide victory Tuesday in West Virginia gave her 20 committed delegates to the Democratic National Convention, but did not prompt any more of the state's superdelegates to declare they'll vote for her," the Gazette reported.

The remaining eight would go to Obama.

The Register-Herald of Beckley focuses on the state's remaining uncommitted superdelegates, finding that "neither Gov. Joe Manchin nor Sen. Robert C. Byrd...would say how they intend to vote once Democrats gather to choose a presidential nominee."

MetroNews spoke to superdelegates Nick Casey (audio) and Alice Germond (audio)

As for the presumptive GOP nominee, The Gazette reports that "Sen. John McCain plans a visit to the Charleston area Friday, but it is apparently a private event and McCain officials said Wednesday they could not release the senator's itinerary."

"However, an employee of St. Albans Gun and Archery at 450 Walnut St., St. Albans, said the senator is expected to visit that store at 10:45 a.m. Friday," the article also said.

14 May 2008

How W.Va. Voted

The Associated Press offers an overview of the statewide and legislative races.

AP also weighs the Obama factor in the primary win for U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va.

Those reporting on Clinton's win over Obama include AP, CNN, Politico, MetroNews, Public Broadcasting and The Charleston Gazette.

Update: The Lehrer News Hour analyzes Clinton's romp, while also hearing from West Virginia's Robert Rupp othat "Obama didn’t necessarily need to give his pre-emptive Mountain State concession speech. The New York Times also has a story.

Congressional race coverage comes from CQ Politics, Public Broadcasting, MetroNews, The Gazette and The Charleston Daily Mail.

Those focusing on the state Supreme Court race and the primary defeat of Chief Justice Elliott "Spike" Maynard include Public Broadcasting, the Daily Mail, The Gazette, MetroNews and the Herald-Dispatch of Huntington (updated).

Update: In other election news, the Herald-Dispatch reports on Huntington Mayor Dave Felinton's tight win in the Democratic primary, while The Intelligencer of Wheeling has Republican Sen. Andy McKenzie's victory in Wheeling's mayoral race. The Register-Herald of Beckley, meanwhile, notes that former state Supreme Court Justice Warren McGraw won the Democratic primary for Wyoming County's circuit court seat.

13 May 2008

W.Va. Primary Election

As West Virginians head to the polls, The Associated Press reports that 76,519 voters have already cast early or absentee ballots - the second-highest number after the 2004 general election.

AP also offers overviews of the federal and state races.

Those expected to post statewide returns include:

Those posting local results include:

12 May 2008

Clinton, Obama Wind Down W.Va. Push

The Associated Press talked to Obama supporters attending his Monday rally at the Charleston Civic Center.

Others with coverage of Obama include MetroNews.

MetroNews' Talkline snagged an interview with Hillary Clinton (audio here), with Obama slated to speak to host Hoppy Kercheval later in the day.

The Charleston Daily Mail reports that "Polls have shown Sen. Hillary Clinton stomping rival Barack Obama by 40-plus points in West Virginia, yet the former first lady isn't taking Tuesday's primary here lightly."

AP also reports that a string of VIPs have chimed in for Obama: Charleston native Jennifer Garner "was featured in automated calls urging voters across the state to support the Illinois senator for president; film star Kal Penn was stumping for him in Fairmont and Morgantown; and his supporters also include "former Mountaineer quarterback Major Harris and current quarterback Pat White."

Election 2008: Legislature

The Associated Press finds that "general election isn't for nearly six months, but dozens of West Virginia legislative candidates can relax after Tuesday."

"That's because nearly half the races for the House of Delegates won't have major party opposition, along with about a third of Senate races," the article continues, citing records from the secretary of state's office.

AP also reports on legislative candidate spending in advance of the primary: about $1.6 million spent after $3.2 million was contributed or loaned to House and Senate campaigns.

The top Senate spender: Mike Ross, who "had plowed more than $97,654 into his effort... Unopposed in his party's primary, the Randolph County Democrat seeks a rematch with Republican Sen. Clark Barnes, who unseated him in 2004."

As for the House races, "Sally Susman tops the list...at $72,563 as she and nine other Democrats compete for five seats in the 27th District. The veteran Raleigh County politico had left the House in 2006 for an unsuccessful state Senate run. She has also largely self-financed her current bid."

Suffolk: Clinton 60%, Obama 24% in W.Va.

Suffolk University polled 600 likely Democratic Primary voters over the weekend.

Asking voters to predict the next president, the survey found:

  • 31% Clinton
  • 27% Obama
  • 26% McCain
More than two-thirds, or 67%, said that Clinton should not get out of the race "regardless of what happens on Tuesday," while 24% said she should exit.

An even larger margin, 72%, said that Clinton is not hurting the Democratic Party by running in the remaining parties, versus 20 percent who said she was.

Just over half, 51%, believed that Obama could beat McCain in November. Another 29% thought he could not. The remaining 20% were undecided.

Also, 23% said they would vote for McCain if their candidate did not win the nomination. Another 6% said they would vote for Ralph Nader.

Other highlights:
  • 4% said they would vote for John Edwards
  • Obama favorable/unfavorable - 44%/41%
  • Clinton favorable/unfavorable - 70%/21%
  • Top isse - the economy, at 56%, followed by Iraq war (21%) and health care (9%)
  • 41% favored making President Bush's tax cuts permanent.
  • Bush's unfavorable rating was 77%
  • When asked about their family's situation, 62% said they were "holding steady"
  • Just one-third of the surveyed houseolds contained veterans.
  • Even fewer, 30%, had union members.
The margin of error was +/- 4 percentage points. Suffolk has also posted details.

Primary Election Eve in W.Va.

  • The Associated Press' Tom Breen previews the Obama-Clinton matchup in West Virginia, and the role former President Bill Clinton has played, heading into Tuesday.
  • Obama is set to return to the Mountain State with a Monday appearance in Charleston, while Clinton hits southern counties. Those with reports include AP, MetroNews and The Gazette. Charleston's morning paper also sets the state separately for Obama's stop.
  • AP also profiles the three Democrats seeking their party's nod to challenge U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-2nd.
  • The Register-Herald focuses on Delegate Mel Kessler, D-Raleigh, Gov. Joe Manchin's opponent in that party's gubernatorial primary.
  • MetroNews highlights the two Republicans vying to take on Democratic Attorney General Darrell McGraw.
  • With national attention turned to West Virginia, The Intelligencer of Wheeling reports that "Secretary of State Betty Ireland doesn’t want the state’s election process to be the focus."