04 July 2008

Quote of the Holiday Weekend

"You're a great baseball man."

-- U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va. to Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., during an argument on the Senate floor overheard by The Washington Post.

The Post reported that when Bunning retorted that he "he has the same rights on the floor as Byrd," history's longest-serving U.S. senator replied, "Yeah, man, you're a senator," and laughed hysterically.

The Politico also has the exchange, which made Quote of the Day on Taegan Goddard's Political Wire as well.

Wylie Stowers, 1928-2008

Southern West Virginia has lost another Democratic faction kingpin. Wylie Stowers was 79 when he died Wednesday at a Huntington hospital.

Those with coverage include The Lincoln Journal, The Charleston Gazette, Public Broadcasting (with audio) and MetroNews.

Manchin Weighs in on Supreme Court Appeal

Gov. Joe Manchin has asked West Virginia's Supreme Court to take in DuPont's appeal of a nearly $400 million judgment against it, to review its punitive damages portion if for no other reason.

The Associated Press has details. "Manchin urged the justices to clarify what sort of appellate review is to be afforded DuPont under its constitutional right to due process," the article said. "His lawyers cited a 2003 U.S. Supreme Court decision to argue that the 14th Amendment guarantees appeals of punitive damages."

DuPont tells AP it is pleased with the governor's intercession. The plaintiffs? Not so much.

"I've never seen anything like this," their lead lawyer, Michael Papantonio, told AP. "This just further delineates how badly the deck is stacked in West Virginia against people trying to recover when they're taking on DuPont. It's stacked against people who have been wronged by corporate America."

Cook Upgrades Capito-Barth Race in W.Va.'s 2nd (Updated)

The Cook Political Report now ranks the contest between U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-2nd, and Democrat Anne Barth as competitive.

The nonpartisan outfit has changed its ratings for the Capito-Barth matchup and nearly 30 other U.S. House races.

But Cook still gives Capito the edge as she seeks a fifth term.

Cooked upgraded the race from "likely Republican," defined as "not considered competitive at this point but have the potential to become engaged, to "lean Republican," which are "considered competitive races but one party has an advantage."

(Cook also ranks West Virginia as "solid Republican" in the McCain-Obama race, though it "currently sees the Presidential contest as a Toss Up" nationally.)

Update: The Capito-Barth race remains "Republican Favored" in the eyes of both The Rothenberg Political Report and CQ Politics.

01 July 2008

Republicans to ROMP for Capito

U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-2nd, is one of eight GOP House candidates who stand to benefit from the fundraising committee Regain Our Majority Program (ROMP), noted by The Politico.

Manchin Going To Bat For Obama (Updated)

Amid various signs suggesting West Virginia will remain red in this year's presidential election, Gov. Joe Manchin has pledged to come out swinging for his party's nominee.

Manchin told The Charleston Gazette, "after meeting with other 'centrist' leaders of the Democratic Party for two days in Chicago," he believes "Illinois Sen. Barack Obama can carry West Virginia in November."

"I've told Barack, 'You need to come to West Virginia and sit down and talk,'" Manchin is quoted as saying.

The Associated Press covered the weekend meeting of the Democratic Leadership Council. MetroNews also caught the governor afterward, and reports him saying "he was recently able to talk with the Illinois senator and his staff and stress just how important the West Virginia vote could be to his campaign."

MetroNews also has audio with its report, which also said that "no Democratic nominee has won the White House since 1916 without winning the West Virginia Primary."

The observation dovetails with the recent county-by-county electoral map analysis of Appalachia that accompanied an op-ed on the topic in The New York Times. The op-ed, in turn, was invoked in a Monday piece, "Winning over West Virginia," in the United Kingdom newspaper The Guardian.

Update: Manchin also spoke to Public Broadcasting (audio here), recounting this conversation with Obama:

He says, 'You know Joe, I don’t know if my demographics work that well, which is being an African American in a state that is predominantly white Caucasian.' And I kidded with him. I said, I come from an ethic background, in being Catholic in a state that has very few Catholics. You could say my demographics do not work well in West Virginia, but people need to know you. They will base you on your performance. You need to spend time in West Virginia.

Happy New (Fiscal) Year, W.Va.

It doesn't sound nearly as exciting as Jan. 1, but Tuesday kicks off West Virginia's new budget year.

Toward that end, the state completes the gradual halving of the sales tax on groceries to 3 cents on the dollar. The Associated Press reports on the latest food tax cut, while noting that West Virginia's "will still be higher than surrounding states. Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, and Pennsylvania don't have a food tax. Virginia's is 2.5 percent."

July 1. also marks the opening of the market for workers' compensation coverage to competition beyond the state-created BrickStreet Insurance Co. Those with coverage include the Charleston Daily Mail, The Register-Herald of Beckley, The Journal of Martinsburg and the Bluefield Daily Telegraph.

Update: MetroNews' Talkine featured dueling perspectives on the food tax cuts, with audio from Delegate Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, and Manchin spokeswoman Lara Ramsburg.

30 June 2008

Election 2008: President

The latest Federal Election Commission filings show that Barack Obama continues to outraise John McCain among West Virginians, The Associated Press reports -- though the Democratic presidential hopeful's campaign notes to AP that the money race is but one barometer of the White House contest.

"Obama has received more than $208,000 from West Virginians, including about $38,500 last month, the FEC filings show," the article said. "McCain attracted about $16,400 in May, bringing his in-state total near $88,600."

The Washington Post casts West Virginia in the red column in a lengthy Sunday piece that contrasts that trend with movement in the opposite direction by Virginia.

U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-2nd, told that newspaper that Democrats "do appeal more to an upper-middle-class, higher-educated, faster-moving kind of voter. Voters here are still waking up in the morning saying, 'I want to make sure my kids get fed and that someone's not trading away my constitutional rights.' "

Stateline.org, meanwhile, is the another to remove West Virginia from the roster of 2008 battleground states. The nifty interactive map includes the Mountain State among 19 it ranks as "safely Republican."

The "Out There" column specifically notes the departure of West Virginia from the list of "purple states:"

Once a staunchly Democratic state, it has voted Republican during the past two presidential elections and gave Obama such a primary drubbing that Out There can no longer justify calling it purple.
Also referring to the May 13 outcome as a "drubbing," AP notes as well that "Exit polling conducted for The Associated Press during the Democratic primary indicated that little more than a third of Clinton's supporters would back Obama, who received about 26 percent of the vote, were he the nominee."

Update: Gov. Joe Manchin is also quoted in the Post piece. After telling the reporter "he has to convince West Virginians that national Democrats would not be able to take away gun rights, even if they wanted to," the governor is quoted as saying, "I've encouraged Barack. I say, 'Please come back to West Virginia and sit down and talk to people so they'll get to know you.' "

Special Session Recap

The Associated Press was on hand for Saturday's finale of the legislative special session convened by Gov. Joe Manchin.

AP reports on the final passage of the hotly debated electioneering communications bill and the session's end. It also offers a glance of the session's highlights.

The Legislature's extensive web site features a roster of the session's 19 items, with links to bill text, roll calls and other details.

AP focused earlier on the back-and-forth over the campaign ad disclosure measure. Others who sifted through that debate include The Charleston Gazette, Public Broadcasting (with audio), MetroNews and The Intelligencer of Wheeling.

W. Va. Supreme Court Rebuffs Legislative Pay Raise Challenge

The state Supreme Court unanimously rejected the petition filed by former state senator and 2008 GOP gubernatorial nominee Russ Weeks, challenging provisions of the legislative pay raise bill passed this year.

The Associated Press has the story, as does The Register-Herald of Beckley.