It was the usual week of contrasts for the West Virginia Republican party.
While the legislative super-majority grew, the state executive committee was continuing to look like a gang of buffoons from Parts Unknown. The chasm between legislative Republicans and executive committee members keeps growing.
To begin with, new State Party Chair Mark Harris failed to keep his word. That may not be unusual for a Republican preacher/doctor, but it isn’t the stuff that wins converts to the Cause.
Gathered on the South lawn of the state capitol a few days after his highly-suspect “election” as state chair, Harris solemnly promised me he’d let me know when a new state executive director was chosen.
Although John Findlay’s appointment as West Virginia’s Republican Executive Director has repeatedly been reported in Virginia newspapers, it’s been kept top-secret here. It was quite difficult for me to get a receptionist at state GOP headquarters to even confirm the appointment this week.
When one considers Findlay’s dubious track record, there’s little wonder West Virginia Republicans are not featuring their new director in 60-second TV spots.
As Virginia’s former Republican executive director, Findlay’s dismantling of the once strong GOP majority in the Mother Commonwealth is quite remarkable. Consider West Virginia’s conversion from a Blue state to Red; throw it in reverse and you have Virginia Republicans under John Findlay’s leadership.
If Findlay can do for West Virginia Republicans what he did for their friends in Virginia, State Democrat Chair Belinda Biafore should be getting ready to lead a victory parade down Main Street.
While West Virginia now has the entire board of public works, four of five congressional seats, and both houses of the state legislature in Republican hands, Virginia Republicans didn’t win a single statewide race in Findlay’s 4-½ years in charge.
Under Findlay’s leadership, Republicans even lost their once-solid control of the General Assembly in the November 5, 2020 election.
When he stepped down in Richmond, Findlay appeared to be unhappy that his Virginia “workload” was sometimes 60 hours a week. Apparently that’s not the case here. He wasn’t in when I called Thursday and still hasn’t returned my call as of Sunday.
I’ve said it before and I’ll add it again: I’ve never had a Democrat state chair, executive director or county chair take four days to return a call. But, then, Democrats have no tendency to hide public information from the public.
Former Virginia State GOP Chair Wilson called Findlay “very professional.” That evaluation came from a state chair that likewise led the party to electoral defeat before being ousted himself.
Wilson actually placed third when running for re-election as chair last year.
Wilson’s evaluation came before Findlay showed up in a circus ringmaster costume for vote counting last week. The photo of Findlay accompanying this column was widely distributed on social media. He was apparently making light of the procedure, calling it “a circus.”
How clever and original. He also called the new Virginia State Republican Chair “a clown” in remarks at the time. He’s clearly loyal to his party.
“Findlay said he regrets that the November 5 election did not go well for Republicans. Democratic control of both houses of the legislature, combined with a Democratic governor, will give the party complete control in Richmond for the first time since the mid-1990s,” according to the (Richmond) Times-Dispatch.
“You control what you can control and you just kind of have to accept the rest,” Findlay told the Richmond paper.
Apparently there’s not much Harris and Findlay can control. As noted, Harris can’t even control keeping his word to a reporter.
The Richmond paper said Findlay “is in the conservative wing of the party, a supporter of President Donald Trump who pushed the party’s rhetoric; he dubbed Governor Ralph Northam ‘Gov. Blackface’ earlier this year following the racist yearbook photo scandal that led to massive calls for Northam to resign.”
The paper continued, “Findlay said he has another regret.
“In 2017, an election mail piece attacked Democrat Danica Roem of Prince William County who is transgender and at the time was running to unseat Del. Bob Marshall, R-Prince William. The mail piece referred to Roem as male.
“Findlay said he knew Roem when she was a newspaper reporter, before she transitioned. However, he said, the mail piece should not have misgendered her.
“’I always felt bad about that because I didn’t intend to do that and it came off as us being mean, and I never did end up talking to Danica about that,”’ he said. ‘”But I feel bad because … I should have caught it.”’
“Roem said the mail attack was just one of numerous transphobic statements by Findlay. ‘Saying you feel bad about something to the Richmond Times-Dispatch isn’t contrition nor is it an apology,”’ she said. “’He has my cell. He can call me if he’s genuine about it.”’
A Republican in a party leadership position calling with an apology? The most unheard of thing I ever heard of.
Bearing Drift, which calls itself “Virginia’s conservative voice” called Findlay one of the biggest “losers” of the Virginia 2020 election season.
The publication’s senior contributor, Stephen Spiker, had this to say, “On a final note, congratulations to John Findlay, former Executive Director of the Republican Party of Virginia, for accepting a similar but lesser post as the Executive Director of the Republican Party of West Virginia, a state with far fewer people and competitive elections.
“Findlay is most remembered as the ‘enforcer’ for former Chair John Whitbeck, closely monitoring social media and communications for anything that could be perceived as a negative word against how RPV (Republican Party of Virginia) was being run, and quickly trying to out and ostracize any offending parties. Now, he dresses in costumes and calls the current RPV chairman a ‘clown:'”
Sounds like Findlay perfectly fits the mold for leadership in the secretive State Order of WV Republicans where if one doesn’t agree 100% with all party wisdom, he or she is ostracized.
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As Trump supporters did in West Virginia, Findlay led Virginia’s GOP to abandon as much input as possible from state Republican voters in favor of decisions by wiser party leadership.
Far fewer Virginia Republicans participated in choosing their party leaders and nominees under Findlay. Careful readers will recall that Trump-led Republicans managed, among other things, to take voting for delegates to the national convention out of the hands of “ordinary voters” transferring it instead to “elite leadership.”
As a Trump supporter, I was — and am — offended at that insult to “average” Republican voters who leadership clearly feels are unable to correctly select Presidential nominees. What an insult.
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As noted, legislative Republicans are doing well and just keep doing better.
Raleigh County Delegate Mick Bates’ switch from Democrat to Republican last week highlights the difference.
Bates brings the GOP margin to an insurmountable 78-22 and amplifies him as another conservative voice in the much-changed Southern Coalfields.
I could mention that no representatives of state GOP committee leadership were present at the Raleigh County Courthouse when Bates made the switch, but Harris was probably off collecting some of those upwards to $400 in donations he pulled down for Raleigh Republicans in the last election cycle.
Findlay better hope all his deep connections with Mountain State Republicans pay off by way of contributions to party coffers. Otherwise he may have to don a clown outfit and REALLY bring the circus to town to raise money for this gang of clowns.
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Speaking of party coffers, of which I understand the state GOP committee’s are incredibly low, no experienced politico I know ever saw an ad like the one now being run by Harris and his state GOP.
The party’s Website is actually soliciting a VOLUNTEER to serve as political director. One does not have to read the job description to realize such a position, if done right, likely requires the 60-hour weeks Findlay was crying about. Any seasoned politician knows the importance of a skilled political director.
And Harris expects to hire a VOLUNTEER? Maybe he just could put the Three Stooges in charge of personnel. But wait … they weren’t in the circus.
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I have friends in the state GOP who asked me to give Harris “a chance” as party chair. I said I would.
Having waited a month for him to keep his word regarding hiring a state director, I figure I gave him plenty of opportunity to prove himself.
It looks like Mark Harris can’t be trusted. For all her dictatorial tendencies, former Chair Melody Potter always told me the truth. It goes without saying that predecessors Conrad Lucas and Kris Warner were always candid and transparent. Too bad Republicans are now tied to a “leader” like Harris.
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Cheers to the Kanawha County Commission for immediately rescinding their mask mandate in keeping with the latest CDC and Justice administration guidelines.
Hats off to Commission President Kent Carper for sticking close to his office throughout the entire pandemic. His devotion to public safety may well be unparalleled.
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Of life’s little pleasures, Richwood’s Annual Feast of the Ramson is near the top.
For the first time in 30 years or so, I enjoyed that pleasure over the weekend.
Despite the horrible devastation of the Flood of the Century, Richwood still shows its pioneer spirit. Held in the Moose Lodge due to school construction at its usual site, as many as 1,500 hungry souls attended.
The food was superb and the fellowship even better. A salute to a town showing what can be done, even in adverse circumstances.
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As most of us knew would happen, it took President Joe Biden just a short time to stir up global conflicts, slow down the booming Trump economy and establish gasoline shortages.
Putnam Republican Delegate Joshua Higginbotham was the lead sponsor of a bill that will become law July 7 that relieves us of at least one of Biden’s threats to the comfortable life as we knew it under Trump.
HB 2842 bans municipalities in the state from prohibiting utility companies or customers from connecting to a utility based on the utility’s energy source.
In other words, if Customer A wants electrical service at 100 Main Street and the power company uses fossil fuel as its energy source, neither the customer nor the utility can be banned from connecting that service.
With Biden’s far left agenda, such action was a real threat. That’s no longer true, thanks to Higginbotham.
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Here’s another mask musing: I tend to agree with those who now wonder why businesses that forced us to adhere to government edicts on masks no longer do so.
After all, some were determined to force full-fledged mask regulations by Governor Justice as long as he insisted customers wear them. But now that has changed, yet some still insist we all do our Lone Ranger impersonation and wear masks.
Do we just love to have big government ordering us around?