West Virginia

WV Senate: Another questionable poll from Public Policy Polling

If you’ve been following the race for United States Senate in West Virginia between Gov. Joe Manchin and John Raese, you’ve probably heard about the latest poll from Public Policy Polling that shows:

  • Manchin: 50%
  • Raese: 44%
  • Undecided: 6%

The problem here is, once again, the details of the polling. Below is the party ID breakdown from the last four public polls for which the information is available.

As you can see, there is reason to take this poll with a grain of salt, much like the last poll that Public Policy Polling produced in this race. To believe this, you would have to believe that the Democratic Party’s base is motivated within the state to levels in hasn’t been within the last three cycles.

Wait, what? On Election night, West Virginia shocked the political world

West Virginia Legislature

West Virginia has had the oddest political culture for decades.

At the Presidential level, it has trended reliably Republican since 2000. Prior to the election of Congresswoman (now Senator-elect) Shelley Moore Capito in 2000, voters rarely sent a Republican to Congress for longer than a single term. Moore Capito’s father, Arch Moore, was the only Republican Congressman to serve more than one consecutive term between 1950 and 2000. And the last time a Republican Senator served a full term was in the 1940s.

West Virginia’s political culture is heavily influenced by labor unions — traditionally a fundraising and organizing arm of the Democrats — but their reliance on coal as in industry (it generates more than $3 billion annually) has strained the relationship between average West Virginians the increasingly anti-fossil fuel Democratic Party.

As in many Southern communities, the mentality really seems to be this (as a Southerner, I understand it):

My grandaddy was a Democrat. My daddy was a Democrat. I’m a Democrat.

But Election Night 2014 brought big changes to West Virginia’s state-level political landscape; changes the Washington Post called “unexpected.”

Senator-elect Moore Capito won every single county with a whopping 62.1% of the vote state-wide, and her coattails were pretty long. For the first time since the 1920s, Republicans will hold every seat in the House of Representatives, leaving just one Senate seat (Joe Manchin, a popular former governor) left for Democrats.

Democratic Senator: Delay Obamacare until 2015

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) is frustrated with the Obama administration because of its proclivity for delaying politically inconvenient parts of Obamacare, the latest of which is the delay of the employer mandate. He’s ready to delay the entire law until 2015, according to Betsy Woodruff of National Review:

As he was headed to the Democratic caucus lunch yesterday, Senator Joe Manchin had strong words about the president’s extension of the employer mandate deadline.

“You’re just picking and choosing,” the West Virginia Democrat said of the administration’s decision. “First it’s basically the large employers, then it’s medium groups, then it’s 50 to 100 — medium-sized. If there’s a problem, there’s a problem.”

He said there’s bipartisan support for legislation postponing the implementation of the entirety of the Affordable Care Act until 2015.

“We’re sure in a transition period and they keep changing the dates,” the senator said, frustrated. “So I wish everyone would come to grips.”

Manchin, a red state Democrat who frequently breaks with his party, had previously expressed support for a one-year delay of the individual mandate, on of Obamacare’s most unpopular provisions. The West Virginia Democrat, however, has voted against attempts to repeal or defund the law.

Democratic donors turn eyes to the Senate

Just hours after DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) conceded that Democrats aren’t likely to win control of the House of Representatives this fall, Politico ran a story noting that many high-dollar donors are shifting their focus to the Senate races in which vulnerable Democrats are running:

With Democrats’ grasp on the Senate increasingly tenuous — and the House all but beyond reach — some top party donors and strategists are moving to do something in the midterm election as painful as it is coldblooded: Admit the House can’t be won and go all in to save the Senate.

Their calculation is uncomplicated. With only so much money to go around in an election year that is tilting the GOP’s way, Democrats need to concentrate resources on preserving the chamber they have now. Losing the Senate, they know, could doom whatever hopes Barack Obama has of salvaging the final years of his presidency. 
Some Democratic operatives think a big chunk of that money should be going to Senate contests instead — and they’re beginning to make that case to wealthy contributors. One senior Democratic strategist who is involved in a number of Senate races said conversations with many of the party’s biggest donors about shifting their giving away from the House and toward the Senate had begun and that, “it’s only a matter of time before we start seeing the results.”

“After the health care rollout and with the start of the new year, Democratic donors are starting to focus on a critical choice they have to make: Donate money to pick up a small handful of House races or defend the Senate majority at all costs so that the president can get something — anything — done,” the strategist said.

House Dem questions legality of Obama’s “administrative fix”

Nick Rahall

The legality of President Barack Obama’s “administrative fix” has come into question by legal scholars who, correctly, note that the administration doesn’t have the authority to arbitrarily delay enforcement of politically inconvenient provisions of Obamacare.

The criticism isn’t coming from critics of the law, but also those who voted for it. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV) told CBS News that the legality of the move was one of the reasons he voted for the Republican-proposed Keep Your Health Plan Act, despite a veto threat from the White House.

Rahall was asked if voted for the Keep Your Health Plan Act because he thought President Obama’s fix didn’t go far enough. “I voted yes, perhaps that was part of the reason,” Rahall told CBS News. “But the main reason was, I’m not sure he had the legal underpinning to do what he did.”

Senate Democrat backs delay of ObamaCare’s individual mandate

Breaking with President Barack Obama and Democratic leadership, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) said on Thursday that he would vote for a stop-gap spending measure that delayed ObamaCare’s individual mandate for one-year, citing the administration’s delay of the employer mandate:

“There’s no way I could not vote for it,” Manchin said at a Bloomberg Government breakfast today. “It’s very reasonable and sensible.”
Manchin, 66, said he’d be willing to delay the individual mandate as part of the budget negotiations because the Obama administration in July gave businesses an extra year to provide their workers with health insurance.

“Don’t put the mandate on the American public right now,” Manchin said. “Give them at least a year. If you know you couldn’t bring the corporate sector, you gave them a year, don’t you think it’d be fair?”

Chris Moody of Yahoo! News reports that Manchin will vote for the CR, including funding for ObamaCare, that Senate Democrats are expected to push through the chamber either today or tomorrow.

House Republicans are reportedly considering tacking on a one-year delay of the individual mandate to Continuing Resolution (CR) after the Senate returns the measure to the chamber. Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) confirmed on Thursday that it’s “unlikely” that he will accept a “clean” CR.

Labor union leader: Obama’s war on coal is a “war on jobs”


Not only are labor union leaders revolting against President Barack Obama over his ill-conceived healthcare law, they’re also pushing back over environmental regulations against coal plants.

In a letter to the editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Raymond Ventrone, business manager of Boilermakers Local 154, slammed the Environmental Protection Agency’s “anti-coal agenda and noted that the new regulations are hurting the workers that he represents.

“Just three years ago, hundreds of construction workers and boilermakers from Local 154 installed state-of-the-art pollution control equipment on a 1,700 megawatt coal-fired power plant,” wrote Ventrone, who represents 2,000 workers in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia. “More than $500 million was invested in this plant, proving that coal and clean air were not mutually exclusive.”

“Now, those breakthrough technological upgrades — approved by the Environmental Protection Agency only three years ago — have been deemed insufficient by the very same agency by virtue of new regulations created without a vote in Congress or input from the public,” he explained, adding that the anti-coal regulations have forced two Western Pennsylvania coal plants out of business.

Ventrone sees the anti-coal regulations as an attack on his members way of life, noting that they’ve been maligned as they earn an honest living. He also pointed out that environmental gains have been made even as coal usage increased substantially.

Nate Silver: GOP could take control of the Senate in 2014

With former Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D-MT) deciding to pass on the open seat in Montana, the odds of a Republican takeover have increased, according to Nate Silver, a political analyst with an uncanny ability to predict elections.

Republicans already had a fair chance to take control of the Senate before Schweitzer’s surprising announcement this past weekend. But with six seats currently held by Democrats in traditionally red states, three of which will be open seats, the odds are beginning to look favorable for Republicans.

“The G.O.P.’s task will not be easy: the party holds 46 seats in the Senate, and the number will very probably be cut to 45 after a special election in New Jersey later this year,” wrote Silver at FiveThirtyEight. “That means that they would need to win a net of six contests from Democrats in order to control 51 seats and overcome Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s tiebreaking vote.”

“A race-by-race analysis of the Senate, in fact, suggests that Republicans might now be close to even-money to win control of the chamber after next year’s elections,” adds Silver. “Our best guess, after assigning probabilities of the likelihood of a G.O.P. pickup in each state, is that Republicans will end up with somewhere between 50 and 51 Senate seats after 2014, putting them right on the threshold of a majority.”

Liberty-minded group backs conservative candidate in West Virginia

Pat McGeehan

If Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) thought she was going to coast to the GOP’s Senate nomination in West Virginia, she may have another thing coming.

The Republican Liberty Caucus has endorsed Pat McGeehan, a veteran and former member of the West Virginia House of Delegates who is challenging Capito for the Republican nomination in the state.

“Pat McGeehan has shown leadership skills badly needed in the Senate,” said RLC National Chair Matt Nye in a press release from the group. “Receiving the Republican Liberty Caucus endorsement is a testament to his commitment to the principles of individual liberty, limited government, and free enterprise.”

“At the Republican Liberty Caucus we believe that less government means more liberty. We advocate the principles of individual rights, limited government, and free enterprise,” added Nye. “We work in the Republican Party because we believe it is the best vehicle for bringing about the political changes we want and we believe that Pat McGeehan will become part of the growing number of Liberty Republicans advancing those goals in Washington.”

Case dismissed against student who wore NRA shirt to school

It’s nice to see when common sense prevails. The case against Jared Marcum, a 14-year-old West Virginia middle school student who wore a NRA t-shirt to school, has been dismissed:

Jared Marcum’s mother, Tanya Lardieri, was overcome with emotion after signing a dismissal order and cementing the fact that the criminal charges against her 14-year-old son, Jared Marcum, have been withdrawn.

“It should have come sooner but it’s done and we don’t have to have that concern anymore about him having a criminal record” Jared’s father Allen Lardieri tells WOWK. “I’m just glad that it’s over. His mother is glad it’s over.”

Jared’s attorney Ben White calls this a win for common sense.  White says he’s heard too many stories of children being penalized for seemingly harmless behavior, just because each of these incidents included gun imagery of one sort or another.   
“I didn’t think it would go this far because honestly, I don’t see a problem with [the shirt], there shouldn’t be a problem with this,” Jared told WOWK on April 18, the day he was arrested.

While Jared didn’t see a problem with the shirt, neither did the Logan County School District, as it has publicly stated that Jared’s shirt did not violate the district’s dress code.

Back in April, Marcum wore the “Protect Your Rights” shirt, which also displyed a rifle, to school. A teacher reported Marcum to school officials, who told him to remove the shirt or turn it inside-out. He refused.

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