Where’s the money?

“Where’s the money” is the question facing legislators as they enter the final stages of the 2014 legislative session.  It appears the only ideas for getting more money to balance the state budget is a tax on cigarettes or tapping into the rainy day fund.

Here some ideas that will never fly – in an already election year risk adverse Legislature – along with the strong challenge planned by Republicans to capture the House of Delegates.  But there is 2015 and someone should be looking at and researching the potential of these revenue producing opportunities as well as others.

Internet gaming could open up a world of opportunity.  Only three states (Nevada, Delaware & New Jersey) have legalized this option.  In a recent POLITICO article Keith Smith, who heads Boyd Gaming said, “… online gaming [is] an opportunity to be relevant to a new generation of customers, one that is already playing online.”  The piece noted that despite the murky legal status of online gambling, last year $6 billion of the estimated $15 billion worldwide market came from the United States.

A growing market is Advance Deposit Waging (ADW).  It is a form of betting on the outcome of horse races in which the bettor must fund their account before being allowed to place bets.  State governments receive a cut of ADW revenues.  It is not legalized in our state.

Generally, Advance Deposit Waging companies are licensed in Oregon and are known as “wagering hubs.”  These include well know names like Churchill Downs, The Racing Channel, Keeneland, TVG xpressbet.com and greyhounchannel.com.  Research would tell us how Oregon is taxing this activity.  States have long offered tax relief to attract businesses from other states.  What’s wrong with competing with Oregon for these ADW companies?

Nearby in Kentucky two tracks (Kentucky Downs and Ellis Park) have Instant Racing which are electronic pari-mutuel gaming machines, which rely on the outcome of previously run Thoroughbred races to generate winning numbers.  Kentucky Downs operates 390 machines that grossed $291.2 million in handle and averaged nearly $24.3 million per month in 2013, while Ellis Park’s 187 machines handled more than $27.7 million last year and averaged $2.3 million per month.

West Virginia already allows video lottery machines.  Maybe those thinking about the future should consider Off Track Betting.  Fans in localities where there are no race tracks could have access to simulcast racing across the country and included Instant Racing machines like in Kentucky.

Finally, let’s not forget the growing use of tablets and smartphones.  No doubt these will play an important role in future gaming experience.  These devices must be considered if state leaders decide to look at any of these concepts.

I am offering these ideas not as an advocate but with the hope those wondering “where’s  the money” will put some type of process in place to look for all opportunities – not just gaming – to avoid a certain tax increase for our citizens in 2015 if nothing is done.

Who Will Control WV Legislature?

Who Will Control WV Legislature?

Candidates begin to file for West Virginia offices tomorrow.   The 2014 election will not be like any we have seen when it comes to the WV Legislature.  A national movement has been underway which has helped both Republicans and Democrats finance their efforts to take total control of Legislatures, Governorships and enact policies not getting done in messy Washington environment.

Over the last few years as I follow national politics it became clear Alabama Republican success at winning control of state government could be a model for WV Republicans.  Just as the filing period opens today’s New York Times has a long piece, not only about Alabama, but how money is moving across state lines to impact local races.

Anyone Democrat or Republican with an interest in the outcome of the 2014 battle to control the WV Legislature will want to read about the national strategy to “help both parties consolidate local control.”

Here is the link to what could be the plan for West Virginia in 2014.

Ready Set Go?

January first two thousand fourteen is the beginning of the 2014 election season – but not for WV Republicans.  They have used every day and opportunity during the last year.  On the other side appearances would say Democrats are on idle.

For GOP stalwarts the late November 2012 indication Congresswoman Shelly Moore Capito would take on incumbent Senator Jay Rockefeller may have been a starting point.  But even before that new leaders (and some old ones) were at work after seeing a 2014 opportunity in the GOP gains in the 2012 legislative elections.

When Rockefeller said he was done after 50 years of public service you could see the Democrat party was not ready to contest that election or maybe any other.  Months passed with the Democrat party leadership being unable to recruit, urge or otherwise get a Senate candidate.

At this point it seems there is a lack of preparedness by Democrats – not for Republicans who are ready to battle for control of the WV Legislature.  Historically the state Democrat party has turned on its machine 45 days or so before a November election.   The House of Delegates seems more at risk.  Speaker Tim Miley is new and unknown but he appears to be the type to lead a major effort to retain control for his party and its policies.

Last summer at a State GOP Logan meeting I found the Party nearly ready for the 2014 election.  It has always been the Republican Party that was on idle – but not now.

Underway was the recruitment of legislative candidates, a research process to make certain they were the right ones for the task.  A heavy emphasis on social media, grassroots efforts like none they have done in the past, enlarged staff, strategically placed offices and a national party behind their plans.

On the surface other than getting Secretary of State Natalie Tennant to enter the Senate race and a sellout dinner of appreciation for Senator Rockefeller there seems to be little Democrat party activity.  That may be the strategy as State Chair Larry Puccio is cagey and he has Senator Joe Manchin in his toolbox.

Republicans made a serious effort to get sitting members of the Legislature to switch parties only two could be recruited – and one had previously been a Republican.    The only gain I see from this was the news coverage and a pumped up social media campaign that this was huge deal…really.

There is nothing more important to either party than the control of the Legislature.  As the New Year begins yet to be known is if the GOP has found serious candidates for the 100 House seats and 17 Senate ones.   Also, not known is what Governor Tomblin and Senator Manchin will do to assure Democrat control of the Legislature ahead of the 2016 election cycle.

If I were involved in the Democrat party or running for the Legislature on that ticket I would be asking what is my Party’s strategy for 2014.  The Republican Party’s strategy is in place

Must Read

Most of my readers are either political junkies or people interested in politics, government, public policy or commentary.  So here are “must reads.”

Political polling always seems a mystery to those not engaged in the practice of campaigns. There is an excellent piece on political polling in today’s Charleston Daily.  Zack Harold the Capitol Reporter for the newspaper uses both a nationally known pollster and Mark Blankenship who runs a Charleston-based research and polling firm.  Don’t miss this easy to understand explanation by clicking here.  A side – by side piece explains ‘margin of error’ which is found by clicking here.

Two college professors are writing about today’s youth being turned off by politics.  There commentary has appeared in newspapers across the country including The Charleston Daily Mail.  Having lead the WV Young Republicans in the 1960’s I recall when most colleges had Young Republican clubs and nearly all counties had YR clubs.

The trend today is disturbing and requires the attention of our educators among others.  We must assure civics is being taught in our schools.  Political organizations must create activities that attract young people as politics can be fun.  And finally community leaders need to make room for young folks in civic organizations, which could be the first step to becoming involved in government.

Be sure to read the column by professors Richard Fox and Jennifer Lawless.

Extremism

There is a cancer growing on the Republican Party.  Extremism.  Extremism does not win national elections.  Senator Barry Goldwater only won 6 states and 52 electoral votes in the 1964 presidential election.

Winning the nomination was one serious fight in the GOP.  Despite that Goldwater’s allies led by F. Clifton White started early and were organized at the precinct level.  There may be a lesson here for main stream conservative thinking about the 2016 nomination.  Teddy White in his national bestseller “Making of the President 1964” provided an excellent account of the battles.

Even before the outcome of that election Goldwater set the stage in his Cow Palace convention acceptance speech for continuing the fight.  He made the infamous statement, “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.”  The battle continued between extreme elements of the Party and the more moderate thinking.

Fortunately, former Vice President Richard Nixon still loved by most Republicans got into the 1968 campaign early, won the nomination and the extremist went under cover.  In subsequent presidential elections responsible conservatives like Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush were nominated and elected.

Our party faces significant decisions if it is to win another presidential election, let alone in 2014, hold the U. S. House of Representative and take over the Senate in Washington.

Those decisions include rejection of the Tea Party’s scorched earth strategy, strengthening the hand of moderate leaders and finding a presidential nominee who knows the importance of working with others.

This is not something which can wait.  Republican activists on a national, state and local level need to begin to think about the consequences of their actions.

“As the founder of modern Republicanism Barry Goldwater found out, extremism in the pursuit of one’s goals isn’t popular with the American public.” (1)

(1) Brandt Ayers, publisher Anniston Star in Alabama

BREAKING – US Supreme Court to Look At EPA

The court will review six petitions that will look at reversing EPA’s power over carbon dioxide emissions.  Click here for a USA Today report for details.

Political Observations

Over the last four years various readers say they like the pieces I post from elsewhere.  Today all the newspapers are full of commentary.

Jim Lees long involved in reform efforts and WV Democratic politics writes  about an “election of ideas” saying the 2014 U. S. Senate contest offers that potential.  Read it here.

THE SUNDAY TAKE by columnist Dan Balz picked up on a paper “Persuasion Is Not Power” presented to the American Political Science Association the weekend before Obama said he would go to Congress before taking military action in Syria.  You will find the Balz piece “Obama, Syria and the limits persuasion” interesting and enjoy comparisons to Reagan, LBJ and FDR.  Read it here.

“To save the GOP, look to Bill Clinton” by Democrats William A. Galston and Elaine C. Kamarck goes back a quarter of century when their party was in a bad way.  Read it here.

“Bucking the RINO charge” by Dana Milbank offers a look at what is faced by some congressional Republicans in the Syria debate. Read it here.

Many Mansions & Tidbits

The story goes…when A. James Manchin [Joe’s Uncle Jimmy] was once running for the House of Delegates he often told audiences “…in my house are many mansion were it not so I would have told you”…well there is Gayle, Mark, Brooke, Tim, Joe IV, Heather and many more I assume…maybe that is where Democrats can find a U.S. Senate candidate.

Hard to understand 2nd congressional district Republican hopefuls …announcing their candidacy in August… when no one is paying attention…not even party insiders at the county level…learned long ago the announcement of candidacy may be your best news day.

Milking earned media in August was… I am not sure what office I want when I grow up… Delegate Suzette Raines (R-Kanawha)…just elected to the House in 2012…after part of one term says…I want to be a State Senator…now she thinks she wants to go to Washington…could turn out she at least wins the earned media contest…if she announces for Congress after Labor Day…who knows what she wants or where she will end up.

On the other side…of the 2nd district it may seem quiet…but primary candidate Nick Casey is out making house calls…earlier in the summer he paraded with Senator Joe & Gayle at Coalton Days.

In case you missed it this summer…state Democrats are bringing  out the big gun for the Jefferson/Jackson Day Dinner…VP Joe BidenI suggested in an earlier tweet he was coming to help look for a Senate candidate…could be…never underestimate the power of a guys named JOE.

Getting into the spotlight is State Senator Dave Sypolt (R-Preston)…was favorably mentioned in Charleston Gazette editorial last week…regarding State President Jeff Kessler’s “future fund idea”…good to see Sypolt stepping out.

Hard to believe the WV State Board of Education has engaged a law firm… to help it select a search firm… to search for a new State Superintendent…the same group of attorneys it hired to handle the lawsuit filed against it for firing Superintendent Jorea Marple…what happen to watching your money?

Yet to be seen…but will new House Speaker Tim Miley (D-Harrison) step up and save House Democrats in 2014…it’s going to take a major effort to get ahead of the enthusiasm and planning being done by the State GOP party.

The 2nd district GOP race…it may turned out to be a fight of ages… the experienced vs. the inexperienced…when 29 year-old Ron Walter, Jr. entered the race that thought struck me…the Republican party seems to be in an age transition.

Promise this is the last word…at least for now…on the 2nd congressional district…a factor yet to be heard from is Putnam County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Sorsaia…he built a lot of friends and name ID when he ran in the special election for Governor…keep an eye on his schedule.

BTW have you noticed the Democrats still have not found a candidate to run in the First Congressional District…Congressman David McKinley has performed well since his election in 2010…what is going on inside the Democratic party?

Politics & Horses…a giant in political journalism Jack Germond passed away this month…he had retired to Charles Town…was a regular at Charles Town Races…he once told NPR he went to Charles Town races twice a week as he said “it’s a totally cleansing experience.”

 

 

 

Politics & Horses

If you follow me on Twitter @TygartValleyWV you know I am an avid horse racing fan.  This is a big weekend when politics and horses will merge.  Horses and jockeys known across the country are already shipping into Mountaineer Racetrack for the WV Derby.   They will compete in races named for leaders in our State’s political world.

@CalvinHBorel who has won three Kentucky Derby races will ride in several races throughout the day.  Next week at Saratoga he will be inducted into the Horse Racing Hall of Fame.  Every horse racing fan’s sweetheart 25 year-old @RosieNapravnik who has earned $8,142,640 has several mounts.  She will be on Overanalyze in the WV Derby, won the Arkansas Derby an important race in advance of the “run for the roses” but finished 11 in the Kentucky Derby.  Handicappers look for him to bounce back on Saturday.

A West Virginia rider Jose Montano was selected as the national apprentice jockey of the year.  He received the Eclipse Award during a ceremony at Miami’s Gulfstream racetrack.  He rides mostly at Charles Town but will make the trip to Mountaineer.  He will be on Russell Road a WV breed horse with 43 career starts winning 25.

Stakes races throughout the day are named for West Virginia legislative leaders and the Governor, but expect them to take a backseat to the famous horses and jockeys on the track.

BloodHorse publication has a full review of what to expect on Saturday.   If you cannot get there the 44th running of the WV Derby will be on Fox Sports Networks beginning at 5 p. m.

Democrats Dilemma

Democrats current dilemma in West Virginia is not unlike that confronted by Republicans over the last fifty years.  During those years Republicans seemed only to win elections with candidates named Moore or Underwood.  The Party was never strong, organized, well financed, working together or developing the future.  Besides, with few exceptions, the GOP faced the problem of Democrats voting a straight ticket.

All that began to change in 1996.  Though the national Democratic ticket was headed by popular incumbent President Bill Clinton, Democrat voters showed they knew how to crossover.   WV Democrats helped Republicans elect the only non-incumbent Governor in the nation that year – Cecil Underwood.  Little did anyone realize or think then the GOP dilemma was being transferred to the Democrats.

Like the Republicans in the 20th Century only a few famous names Byrd, Randolph, Rockefeller and more recently Manchin have carried the Democrats to victory.  Though Democrats have won statewide Board of Public Works offices the 2011 primary special election for Governor showed none have emerged to take the place of the famous.

A two-party system appears to be in the making for West Virginia.

It started seventeen years ago with Underwood getting majority party voters to place an X by his name.  The next step was in 2000 when voters made Governor George W. Bush the first non-incumbent Republican presidential candidate to carry the WV in seventy years.  Another Moore (Shelley Moore Capito) entered the scene that year winning a seat in Congress while Bush won again in 2004 and the Republican legislative pick up in 2012.  There have been other GOP wins in state races strengthening the move to a two party state.

Not sure what is happening in the Democrat party, but from the outside the dilemma appears to me not unlike what Republicans have faced for fifty years, too few known names, a lack of organization, adequate funds, a united team and a bench to assure the future.

West Virginia will be the winner if the dilemma ends for both parties.  Nothing would be better for our State than the checks and balances brought on by a strong two party system.