07 November 2008

Byrd Agrees to Step down as Appropriations Chair

After renewed questions about his ability to continue in the post, Sen. Robert C. Byrd announced plans Friday to relinquish the reins of the powerful Appropriations Committee in January, The Associated Press reports.

The Charleston Gazette
was first with the story, while Politico also has coverage. AP reports separately on the reaction by state political leaders.

Update: Byrd's planned departure as chairman has set off a chain reaction of Senate committee changes, and could likely land Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., atop the influential Commerce Committee, AP reports.

Election 2008: Gambling

AP's Tom Breen follows up on his coverage of the ballot issue that would allow gambling at The Greenbrier, reporting that the resort "will hire a consultant to evaluate the prospect."

The Register-Herald of Beckley also has a story.

AP reported earlier that Maryland voted to legalize slot machines Tuesday, "paving the way for up to 15,000 machines in five locations."

"For slots, the sites approved by voters are in Anne Arundel, Cecil and Worcester counties, the city of Baltimore and on state property in Rocky Gap State Park in western Maryland," the article continues.

At least one of those locations could compete with Charles Town Races & Slots for gamblers, as the West Virginia track draws most of its customers from out-of-state and was denied casino table games by voters last year.

But Ohio voters rejected a ballot measure that would have allowed a casino in that border state, AP reports.

Election 2008: Republicans

The Charleston Daily Mail says that "in 2012, West Virginia could elect either its first-ever female governor or United States senator. It all depends on which office Republican Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito decides to run for."

The Daily Mail also hears from state GOP Chairman Doug McKinney about the Tuesday victories of the seven House Republicans targeted by last-minute attack ads from state Democrats.

With only 200 votes separating him from Tuesday's apparent winner in their state Senate race, Republican Bob Adams tells The Journal of Martinsburg that he's waiting for the canvass.

MetroNews quizzes GOP operatives and Charleston Mayor Danny Jones about a string of close Republican losses Tuesday, and what their party should do going forward. With audio.

Election 2008: President

Public Broadcasting sifts through the election results to identify what kept West Virginia "red" in the Obama-McCain race. With audio, and a map showing how the counties voted.

Public Broadcasting also spoke to residents of Huntington (with audio) and Morgantown (ditto) about Obama's win, and covered a speech at West Virginia University by Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Leonard Pitts on the topic (audio here).

Others field local reaction include The Intelligencer of Wheeling, the Charleston Daily Mail and the Parkersburg News.

Election 2008: Governor

The Associated Press reports that "Buoyed by the largest victory margin ever won by someone seeking his office, Gov. Joe Manchin vowed Thursday to extend health coverage to every uninsured working West Virginian," possibly by expanding PEIA and Medicaid.

"The governor also pledged to continue the gradual tax cuts that helped define his first term — but he offered no specific tax-related proposal for next year’s session," the article said. "He instead cautioned that a national recession could at least hamper that goal."

The Charleston Gazette reported earlier on Manchin's possible agenda and the factors behind his landslide win Tuesday.

Toll Hike for Turnpike on the Horizon

Both The Register-Herald of Beckley and The Charleston Gazette report that state officials see little choice but to raise tolls on the 88-mile West Virginia Turnpike "at some point, in the near future," as one official put it.

The Beckley paper focuses as well on the factors that have made a rate hike an issue: reduced traffic from both passenger and commercial vehicles, thanks to high gas prices and the economic woes.

It also reports separately on possible future options for Tamarack, the arts and crafts showcase destined to be removed from the agency that oversees the Turnpike.

06 November 2008

Election 2008: Turnout

Despite hitting a record number registered voters, and after the most successful round of early voting yet, West Virginia's turnout Tuesday bucked a national trend that saw ballots cast reach an all-time high.

The Associated Press reports that "a national expert on voter turnout says the signs of an overwhelming Obama win nationally, and a lack of enthusiasm for his alternative, tell the story."

Others examining turnout include The Charleston Gazette, the Charleston Daily Mail, the Herald-Dispatch of Huntington and MetroNews.

05 November 2008

Election 2008: The Results

The Associated Press has a a roundup of both the federal contests in West Virginia, from the McCain-Obama battle on down, and the statewide and legislative races.

AP also conducted extensive exit polling, and reports the results, and also has an item on passage of the bid to add casino gambling to The Greenbrier.

As for the headlines and coverage across the state:

The Register-Herald (Beckley): Sumner lone Republican to win 27th House seat; Senate leader defeats challenger; Incumbents take House 28th; Louisos, Staggers, Perry to claim 29th House seats; Greenbrier gambling gets nod.

The Charleston Gazette: ; House sweeps: Dems in 30th, GOP in 32nd; Putnam legislators win re-election.

The Charleston Daily Mail (updated):
Voter turnout in W.Va. down, breaks from nationwide trend; A newcomer claims a seat in the 30th District, and Hunt returns after 2-year absence; Incumbents hold onto House seats representing Putnam, Mason and Jackson.

The Herald-Dispatch (Huntington):
Wolfe elected mayor (AP also has an item); Adkins, Chiles, Stephens all re-elected.

The Times-West Virginian (Fairmont): Software glitch delays vote count; Mayor unseated in Fairmont council election; Tennant prevails in race for commission.

The Journal (Martinsburg);Voters don’t despair despite long lines; Snyder retakes seat in Senate; Barnes likely;Incumbents Blair and Cowles win re-election to seats; With a majority of precincts reporting, Yoder wins election (as circuit judge); Doyle, Lawrence take seats in W.Va. House.

The News and Sentinel (Parkersburg):Turnout hits 67 percent in Wood County; Ellem, Azinger, Poling win; Airport levy crashes.

The Intelligencer and News-Register (Wheeling): Voters Have Trouble At the Polls; Jack Yost elected to WV Senate;Kessler retains state Senate seat; Klempa, Hutchins retain seats.

04 November 2008

Early Voting 2008: A Look at the Numbers

Besides reporting that a record 153,789 West Virginians cast early votes before Tuesday, the secretary of state's office released detailed (preliminary) figures that include voter party affiliation for 50 of the state's 55 counties.

The figures show that the percentage of both Republicans and Democrats who cast early ballots were in excess of their share of overall registered voters:

Republicans Democrats
Registered: 29.2% 55.7%
Early: 31.6% 58.5%
Difference: +2.4% +2.8%

During the 2004 election, The Associated Press received early voting figures by party affiliation for 15 counties:

2004 General Republicans Democrats
Registered: 29.8% 58.2%
Early: 41.1% 52.0%
Difference: +11.3% -6.2%

Update: As for the 2008 breakdown by congressional district:

Republican early vs. registered Democrat early vs. registered
1st District 34.6% +2.1% 55.4% +3.5%
2nd District 33.9% +1.8% 55.4% +4.3%
3rd District 24.4% +1.7% 67.7% +2.2%

A caveat: of the five counties without party breakdowns, one is in the 1st and the rest are split between the 2nd and 3rd. The 2nd is missing Calhoun as well as Berkeley, which ranks second statewide for both registered and early voters this year. Democrats, likely spearheaded by the Obama campaign, also registered more voters than Republicans in Berkeley County for the first time since the 2004 general election.

Update II: Some other tidbits:
  • In terms of raw numbers, 37,430 more Democrats than Republicans cast early votes statewide.
  • Republican early voters outnumbered Democrats in all eight counties in which they have a larger share of the registration rolls: Doddridge, Grant, Mineral, Morgan, Preston, Ritchie, Tyler and Upshur.
  • In 21 counties, the percentage of Republicans voting early was below their portion of registered voters. Democrats were underrepresented by early voters in five counties.
  • The counties without early voting breakdowns by party: Berkeley, Calhoun, Lincoln, McDowell and Taylor.

Election 2008: A Final Word from the Pundits & Polls

The final trendlines from Pollster.com show a widening in the McCain-Obama matchup in West Virginia.

As for the pundits, the leading national political analysts released a final round of race ratings within the last several days:

(click to enlarge)

Update: The Pollster.com trendlines reflect two final West Virginia Polls: a survey of 600 likely voters conducted Friday-Monday by American Research Group, which had McCain at 53% and Obama at 43%; and an online poll by YouGov/Polimetrix, which found McCain 52%, Obama 43%. The latter was conducted Oct. 18 through Nov. 1

Update II: Among its "Things to Watch on Election Day," Politico includes Capito among several GOP incumbents against whom "Democrats could have better luck against" under the heading of "BAD, BUT NOT A WORST-CASE HOUSE SCENARIO (20-30 GOP LOSSES)."

03 November 2008

W.Va. Early Voters Hit Record 153k

The Associated Press reports that "preliminary totals have 153,789 early votes cast" by Saturday's deadline. "surpassing the old record by nearly 22 percent. In addition, 13,412 absentee votes have been cast."

"All told, about 13 percent of West Virginia's registered voters have already cast their ballots," the AP article said, "with clerks reporting long lines on the last two days of early voting that ended Saturday."

County clerks across the state are reporting individual records for early balloting, with many citing Saturday as their one-day best.

But MetroNews reports that "only six percent of registered voters in southern coalfield counties cast ballots in the early voting period," with "
Boone, Lincoln, Logan, Mingo, McDowell, Wyoming and Raleigh counties all below 10 percent."

Secretary of State Betty Ireland also spoke to MetroNews (with audio) about the overall election turnout, which she has projected as 70%.

Election Eve 2008 (Updated)

  • The Charleston Gazette reports that "The McCain campaign has unleashed a last-minute attack on Democrat Barack Obama, alleging -- by selectively quoting from a 10-month-old interview -- that Obama plans to 'bankrupt' the coal industry with his plan to limit greenhouse gas emissions."
  • Gov. Joe Manchin spoke to CNBC about the campaign battle in West Virginia, and was asked about the Obama comments. Video here. WTAP-TV also has an item on his morning appearance.
  • The Charleston Daily Mail reports that U.S. Rep Shelley Moore Capito, R-2nd, balked at appearing alongside Democratic challenger Anne Barth on the cover of the latest issue of Metro Valley magazine. As a result, Barth appears alone on the cover - to the objection of some Capito supporters and her campaign.
  • (Corrected) Warren R. McGraw II has bought almost $14,000 (updated figure) worth of radio advertising and robocalls on behalf of his uncle (corrected; see filings here), Attorney General Darrell McGraw. The Gazette had initially reported that Warren McGraw, the attorney general's brother, had made the independent expenditure.

02 November 2008

The Early Word on Early Voting

The Associated Press reported before the Nov. 1 end of early in-person voting that "West Virginians are going to the polls in droves and election officials are now predicting an early voting record."

With the record set in 2004 at 126,503 early votes, "As of Friday morning, nearly 122,000 state residents had cast ballots in West Virginia’s 55 counties. That’s about 10 percent of the state’s eligible voters," AP reported.

Since early voted ended Saturday, several have updated on the turnout:

  • Nearly 11 percent of the Northern Panhandle's registered voters cast early ballots, The Intelligencer of Wheeling reports. "there are 113,950 registered voters registered through the six counties in the Northern Panhandle. As of the close of early voting on Saturday afternoon, 12,471 had already voted in the region," its article said.
  • WSAZ-TV has the Kanawha County figure and also reports that "in Putnam County, more than 6,800 voted early," while "in Huntington, 7,000 people have already made their voice heard."
  • WOWK-TV has Putnam County's final figure at 7,500, a record.
The Journal of Martinsburg noted that early voting in the Eastern Panhandle had topped 15,000 in advance of the final day.

Election 2008: Weekend Roundup


  • WSAZ-TV hosted a forum for GOP gubernatorial nominee Russ Weeks and Mountain Party candidate Jesse Johnson, after "Democrat Joe Manchin declined WSAZ's offer to take part in the forum." A number of video clips accompany the online article.
  • WSAZ-TV also held debates between congressional candidates in two races: Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-2nd, and Democratic challenger Anne Barth (with full video and clips); and Rep. Nick Rahall, D-3rd, with GOP nominee Marty Gearheart (also with full video and clips).
Supreme Court
  • AP offers an overview of the contest among two Democrats and one Republican for two seats on West Virginia's Supreme Court.
  • Both AP and Public Broadcasting (with audio) offer coverage from the Supreme Court candidates' forum held at West Virginia University's College of Law. The host has a webcast.
  • AP previews this year's legislative races: all 100 seats in the House of Delegate are up for election, as are 17 of the 34 state Senate seats. AP hears from officials from both major parties on their prospects, and also analyzes the latest campaign finance filings.
  • The Journal fields GOP reaction to a campaign by a labor PAC, the West Virginia Building & Construction Trades, targeting several of their legislative incumbents and hopefuls.
  • The Journal profiles Democrat Mike Roberts and the Mountain Party's Robin Mills among the legislative challengers as well.
  • AP profiles the close battle between incumbent Democratic Attorney General Darrell McGraw and GOP challenger Dan Greear.
  • AP takes an advance look at the ballot issue in Greenbrier County that would allow casino gambling at its world-famous resort. As AP's Tom Breen reports, because of an impasse between The Greenbrier and its workers, "union officials are appealing to voters in this southeastern West Virginia county to help the resort increase its revenues by adding gambling to its list of amenities."
  • The Journal previews an Eastern Panhandle Democratic rally headlined by national party official and local resident Alice Germond.

Palin Returns (Briefly) to W.Va.

Republican running mate Sarah Palin made another Sunday landing at a West Virginia airport, en route to an Ohio campaign appearance.

marks the brief visit.

Bill Clinton in W.Va.

Former President Bill Clinton sought to rally voters to support fellow Democrat Barack Obama during a Saturday visit to Beckley.

The Register-Herald pegged the crowd at "approximately 200," while The Charleston Gazette estimated it at "around 800."

Public Broadcasting, which settled on the latter figure, covered the event and also has audio.

WSAZ-TV, which went with the former, has coverage and video.

Upate: The Associated Press has coverage.

RNC in W.Va.

Republican National Committee Chairman Mike Duncan headlined a Friday visit in Charleston with "about 150 enthusiastic supporters of the GOP presidential ticket," The Charleston Gazette reports.

MetroNews also has an item.