While I have never considered myself a typical “Trumpster,” I remain firm in my support for former President Donald Trump. That has never meant that I agree with everything he says and does. I don’t.
He might have won in a landslide if only Twitter had suspended him years earlier. After all, it was there that he often lobbed salvos at those he happened to be perturbed at in the moment. Loyal supporters were sometimes ripped, losing him their support forever.
At the end of his term, he should not have even addressed the capitol crowd January 6. While he absolutely said nothing to “incite a riot,” some loyalists undoubtedly thought he did.
And he certainly should not have attacked Vice President Mike Pence, a loyal and patient man who never wavered in his support for Trump.
Do I think we’ve seen the last of President Trump? Of course not. In addition to being the leading GOP candidate for President in 2024, I think he should consider a run for House of Representatives or U.S. Senate in 2022. Follow the path blazed by John Quincy Adams and he could be the biggest thorn President Biden ever had in his side.
Can you imagine the liberal reaction if he announced he’s filing?
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I’ve quoted the wise philosopher and my great friend, the late Judge John Charnock of Charleston, regarding Republican unity many times. “When assembling a firing squad, the first thing Republicans do is form a circle,” John always said.
If Acting State Chair Roman Stauffer was interested in promoting the GOP, he’d make an effort to cooperate with and assist the Wayne County Executive Committee in replacing resigned Delegate Derrick Evans.
In this case — as in most — “assisting” does not mean acting as a dictator and taking over the functions of the county committee, which is what Stauffer did.
He is enough a part of the former state dictatorial executive committee to feel shutting the public and rank-and-file Republicans out of any decision-making process is preferable to transparency.
It was not all that unexpected for Stauffer, in one of his first official functions as chair, to usurp and then close his delegate interview process to the public and press.
Let me make something clear from my long years of experience: West Virginia Democrats are open and transparent in their deliberations; Republicans hide in any way they can find.
Be a reporter and call Democrat State Chair Belinda Biafore or her predecessors and you’ll be welcomed to any meeting they hold. I’ve attended Democrat meetings to choose replacement legislators in the past — but not Republican ones.
I’m confident Republican voters do not approve of party secrecy but there is little they can do about it. Among obvious examples, the state committee even took the average voters right to choose delegates to the national convention.
National convention delegates, under the current regime, are chosen in locked, smoke-filled rooms just like West Virginia’s dirty, old political days of a dollar and a swaller. Fat cats who grease the party financial coffers stand a much better chance at going to the national convention than the little old man or woman who has volunteered service to the party for 50 years.
There is nothing apparent in the current state party operation that enhances Republican favorability with John Q. Public. Success has come, in my opinion, in spite of most party leaders.
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On the other hand, it’s difficult to argue with success. I’m aware that Republicans control four of five congressional seats, the entire board of public works, both houses of the legislature and many county and municipal offices.
I submit that the dramatic turnaround is due to the popularity of President Donald Trump not Roman Stauffer or Beth Bloch, the national committeewoman who “assisted” with the Stauffer delegate interviews.
Sadly, Trump’s Mountain State people pushed changes, such as how national delegates are chosen, that added to the layers of secrecy. That’s too bad and eventually the party will pay for it.
As for convention delegates, GOP leaders were joined by lazy county clerks in wanting to end direct elections. Too many names on the ballot to count, some pleaded. My suggestion would be if one can’t handle his or her job, resign. Someone will be happy to count votes.
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It might seem a bit of a coincidence that Wayne State Senator Mark Maynard was said to be unhappy that his favorite replacement candidate was not included in the first list of recommendations. In a shocking development, Josh Booth made the second list.
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In keeping with the zaniness of the GOP State Committee, one member is proposing an astronomical salary for the new chair, whoever that might be.
Member Pam Krushansky from the First Congressional District, has circulated a resolution she will be pushing at the state committee’s March winter meeting.
Krushansky, who coincidentally is employed by Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, wants to set the chair’s pay at $150,000. That’s a hefty figure for an organization that struggles to keep $30,000 in the bank with national support.
Krushansky’s plan would give the chair even more power but would require that he or she raise the funds to pay the six-figure salary.
In trying to drum up support, Krushansky says the party needs a top-notch chair to oversee its elected officials and maintain growth.
Frankly, it’s a scary thought to think that Stauffer might be dictating what Secretary of State Mac Warner is doing. She also mentions a need to maintain “a conservative majority on the Supreme Court,” positions that are non-partisan.
The resolution would eliminate the executive director position, saving that salary at least.
Perhaps, since the state chair obviously rules with an iron hand, a solid gold throne could go with the deal.
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Speaking of hiding the public’s business from the public, Cabell Republican Delegate Daniel Linville is preparing to introduce another Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) bill with some teeth this session.
Linville, one of the hardest workers at the capitol, took up the FOIA cause originally championed by then-Cabell Delegates Kelli Sabonya and Carol Miller. Both of them moved on — Sabonya to the county commission and Miller to congress — but Linville didn’t miss a beat in pushing the right for the public to know what’s going on.
While West Virginia has a good looking FOIA law on paper, there is little or no compliance or enforcement.
If a government unit decides to arbitrarily ignore or deny a FOIA request, the only option the requester has is to go to circuit court to force compliance. That is time-consuming and costly. It can also be daunting for someone unfamiliar with the court system.
Last year alone, two different state officials — the Agriculture Commissioner and the Attorney General — failed to provide legitimate government documents I requested. One simple issue asked Ag Commissioner Kent Leonhardt for documentation that his office properly charged some residents for copying services. He refused to answer that so we can only assume the facts.
The public’s business should be open and transparent. Hiding information from the public only heightens the suspicion that something untoward has happened.
Some concern has been expressed that a political opponent could essentially work a county clerk or assessor to death by repeatedly requesting government copies. That’s one reason Linville has made a solid attempt to come up with pricing that is fair to all parties.
Frankly, I think the concern about too much work is disingenuous but the price for copies should make sure an office doesn’t lose thousands of dollars complying with FOIA.
Basically, Linville’s bill will put some state agency in charge of policing FOIA compliance. If Citizen A asks for documents from his or her local public service district and is ignored, he or she should be able to contact an agency that can fine that PSD and force compliance.
For transparency’s sake, let’s hope Linville is successful in 2021.
Ron Gregory is a political columnist and covers the legislature for lootpress.com. Contact him at 304-533-5185 or email@example.com