The 2020 U.S. Census came too early to include West Virginia’s 400,000 new residents. That meant the state was one of the losers in the congressional sweepstakes that surrounds the population count once a decade.
It would be difficult to remember a time when the Mountain Stare did not lose House of Representatives members in the count. There sure is no modern record of actually gaining population and representatives.
But once Governor Jim Justice goes on a statewide tour promoting his plan to eliminate the personal income tax, all that will change.
Justice has informed us that by merely doing away with this income tax, a minimum of 400,000 people will flock to our shores intent upon becoming residents.
It’s just too bad the Republican legislative supermajority hasn’t passed the income tax removal already. Of course, they would have needed to pass it even before the most recent session to turn the census count around in time for 2022.
As the Governor tells it, cutting out the tax will immediately spark the nearly half million to flock here, so 2019 would have been the drop dead date for next year.
Perhaps seeing interstates, roadways and bridges plugged up with folks coming into the state could cause Congress to change all the rules and give us back our third congressperson mid-term. It’s still worth a shot.
I’m just worried about how a current resident will ever get back into the state if he or she heads to the beach or other foreign soil. With those 150,000 vehicles inward bound, where would we ever merge in?
Actually, all those new residents might just be more trouble than they’re worth. Perhaps Justice should just stay “home” in the Governor’s Mansion and let us drift along toward extinction.
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I’ve mentioned it before, but it is next to impossible for the legislature to redistrict the House of Representatives to gerrymander their chosen incumbent out this time around.
In the modern past, as redrawn House districts went from six to five to four to three, it was easy to see who legislators wanted to make losers and winners.
But under those scenarios there were at least three or four possibilities. Now, it seems, there are but two: east-west or north-south. Either one, my guess is, would lead to a face-off between Republican Congressmen David McKinley and Alex Mooney.
It would take some very creative finagling to put either in a district with the third Republican, Carol Miller. If Huntington and Charleston end up in the same district, either east-west or north-south, some delicate chopping will be required.
Population parity, of course, will be key. Frankly, I’d prefer my buddy, former Mountain Party gubernatorial candidate Danny Lutz, to carve up the state rather than the 134-member legislature.
But it will be done, leaders assure me, in time for candidates to file eight months from now. Mooney, forever to be known as our “Maryland Looney” of song and fame, may have to head back across state lines to join his inexplicably qualified Maryland state senator/chief of staff.
(Yes, I know Mooney’s mother, Lala, is actually the brains of the operation so that no chief of staff is really needed).
There’s no doubt that, of the three GOP representatives, both Democrat and Republican legislators would prefer to eliminate Mooney. Among Republicans, McKinley and Miller are both former delegates, something Mooney never was. The sitting legislators will prefer former colleagues every time.
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Since the legislature is legally committed to single member Delegate districts starting in 2022, it will be fascinating to see the maneuvering and manipulating while that redistricting occurs later this year.
Republicans will attempt to assure themselves of decades of dominance in the state Senate as well.
While the entire state is Trump country, it’s likely population decline will be more noticeable in much of the southern coalfields, where it has turned pure red. Any loss in the south will be made up in the growing Eastern Panhandle and north central regions.
The growth in the Morgantown area and to an extent Fairmont, likely favors Democrats.
Majority Republicans will need to be cautious in areas such as Cabell and Raleigh counties where they risk creating special interest districts that could actually favor Democrats.
As with Congress, legislative districts must be contiguous (to those from Hamlin that means geographically connected). I’m confident proposed new lines have been in the works for some time and will eventually be unveiled for all to see.
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Historically, in 1962, the House delegation went from six to five. That was the year Democrats greatly underestimated the vote-getting ability of Republican Arch A. Moore, Jr., who easily handled veteran Democrat Cleve Bailey in a showdown of incumbents. In 1972, Congressman James Kee of the Kee family dynasty (both his father and mother preceded him) was the target with Congressman Ken Hechler trouncing him two-to-one as we went from five to four representatives.
It was in 2002 that we dropped from four to the present three as incumbent Democrat Harley “Buckey” Staggers, Jr. was the obvious target when his district was combined with incumbent Democrat Alan Mollohan. The new district paved the way for the latter to win by a huge margin.
It is possible to see gerrymandering designed to achieve the desired result in all of those combinations. The notable exception to the legislature’s desired result was Moore’s win over Bailey.
The 2021-22 version will be fun to watch. And watch it we will.
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Amazingly, the state managed to exist 160 years without an Independent Party of West Virginia but the rush to form one after the 2000 election was so pedal to the metal that organizers were willing to possibly commit false advertising at the least and election law violations at the worst to have a “party” convention.
Former Republican Delegate Marshall Wilson, whose bull in a china shop approach to politics is well documented, somehow believes that by getting more than one percent of the vote as a gubernatorial write-in on that November 2020 election day, he “created” a new party.
Never mind that the “Independent PARTY” is a contradiction in terms from a man who prides himself on quoting the seriously old scholars routinely. Whatever Wilson wants always seems to make sense to him and that one percent who would actually want to see him in charge of the state.
But does it make an iota of sense to anyone else? I doubt it.
And despite social media proclamations of a new “party,” it’s clear that Secretary of State Mac Warner has not arrived at the same party conclusion as Wilson and his disciples. Not yet at least.
Miscommunication caused me to think Warner attorney Donald Kersey was having more difficulty with the Independent Party issue than is actual fact. Kersey had been ill, which apparently slowed down the process as much as anything.
But, in fact, when Wilson associates began planning the “Independent Party of West Virginia convention” they held a couple weeks ago, Kersey pointed out that no determination had officially been made that there WAS an Independent Party of WV. No party; no convention? Not as Wilson’s fans see it.
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I will concede that Wilson’s write-in vote total was quite impressive and certainly exceeded what I expected.
The former GOP delegate inspires a nearly cult-like following in political circles and social media.
Many of those determined to write him in in 2020 ignored their overall agreement with the Libertarian Party, which was and is a legitimate party with ballot access. I kept constantly pointing out during the campaign that Wilson’s write-ins and Libertarian Erika Kolenich’s votes combined would be much more impressive than either standing alone.
Three or four percent looks better than one or two.
But back to the issue of whether the Independent Party of WV is a legal political party, Kersey recently sent an email to Wilson allies pointing out that Warner has asked Attorney General Patrick Morrisey for an opinion on the matter.
“As I understand, the ‘Independent Party of West Virginia’ (IPWV) is a registered political action committee (PAC). However, IPWV has not been formally determined to be a recognized ‘political party’ as contemplated by W. Va. Code § 3-1-9,” Kersey wrote.
“We spoke with Del. Wilson and Mr. Bochinski in early/mid March when they initially filed to organize IPWV as an ‘executive committee.’ Our Elections Director explained that it will take some time to research the legal question, but Mr. Bochinski indicated that time was of the essence for him to establish a bank account that day. So, the Elections Director explained he can organize IPWV as a PAC instead. The question of party status has remained unanswered because, until your note in the data request application, we were unaware of any need for expediency.
“That legal determination is still pending by the WV Attorney General’s Office (AG) pursuant to a request by our office made prior to the initial executive committee application (though coincidental timing, it was triggered by a journalist inquiry following a radio interview by, I believe, Del. Wilson). I will note that that request to the AG was more broad and, in sum, essentially whether a gubernatorial write-in candidate’s party, if not already ‘recognized’ in WV, can become a party under 3-1-9 without following the signature-petition process in 3-5-23 et seq. To my knowledge, this is the first time the question has been raised (at least in recent years),” Kersey continued.
“I spoke with senior staff at the AG’s office and was informed that their formal opinion on this matter will not be ready by April 10th (the date of the proposed ‘convention’). I am sharing this information with you to be as transparent and forthcoming as possible, and so that you can consider this information before expending any effort, time, resources, and other matters for a convention or similar ‘party’ activities,” Kersey continued.
Then, while not being in the position to issue a formal opinion himself, Kersey adds, “without knowing the AG’s formal opinion on this matter, my preliminary research has led me to believe that a write-in candidate cannot achieve party status as contemplated in W. Va. Code § 3-1-9. Generally, I based this on an analysis of all applicable Chapter 3 laws and case precedent. One such case is Write-In Pritt Campaign v. Hechler (1994), which examined a similar issue of law. The facts are different, but the court’s analysis and holding suggest that the nature of a write-in candidacy cannot satisfy the various elements for party status under 3-1-9.”
So there you have it. Despite being told that there are serious questions as to whether the Independent Party of West Virginia exists, Wilson and supporters proclaimed that they did, in fact, plan and hold a “party convention” anyway.
I always puzzle when those like Wilson religiously expect others to comply with the very letter of the law but ignore such requirements for themselves.
One might ask Wilson why it was so imperative to immediately open a checking account and, even more curious, why it was a requirement that a “party convention” be held by April 10.
I’d ask but he long since quit answering my inquiries.
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As far as congressional redistricting goes nationwide, most analysts agree the census outcome gives an additional slight edge to Republicans in 2022. Typically, the party out of power gains in off-year elections anyway.
Obviously the GOP doesn’t need to gain much to take over the Senate, which is currently deadlocked at 50-50.