Archive for the ‘Political Observations’ Category

Capito Hurt?

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

There has been a political development on the national stage that could impact Rep. Shelley Moore Capito’s announced plans to seek the U. S. Senate in 2014.  Only time will tell.

Today U. S. Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) well known for his recent efforts to recruit the most “right-wing” candidate possible for various Senate races was named to head the Heritage Foundation,  a conservative think tank based in Washington.  Some of the DeMint recruited candidates lost later to a Democrat.

The impact of this change could cut two ways as related to Capito.  First, he may not be so active in recruiting Senate candidates and spend more time on conservative policy, or he could even be in a stronger position to influence the selection of the “right candidate” in Senate races.

When Captio announced Senator DeMint was one of the first that panned her entrance into the race.  He told POLITICO “She would not be the conservative’s pick there.”  He was joined by conservative organizations like the Club for Growth in criticizing Captio as a potential nominee.

Will see!


Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

After the not-so-surprising announcement that Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito will become a candidate for the United States Senate the attention among these West Virginia hills is the “fiscal cliff.”  Its impact could result in significant change in our State that relies on the flow of our tax dollars back from Washington.

Yesterday I tweeted a piece by James Capretta in National Review “How to Approach the Fiscal Cliff.”  Since then I thought his excellent advice should be shared with readers of PHILLIPSBILLBOARD.  Click for a must read.

BTW you can follow me on Twitter @TygartValleyWV.

Aftermath Part II

Monday, November 12th, 2012

The morning afterwards I wrote a piece about the Aftermath.  I mentioned if there a lesson to be learned from the positive campaign [my wife Jenny’s thought] of Allen Loughry approach in winning a seat on the Supreme Court.  There is a front page story about this very question in today’s Charleston Gazette written by Paul J. Nyden.  Click here to learn the Loughry way.

The aftermath continues for potential change in the WV Legislature. Not only is it being driven by the huge victory by Republican candidates but Democrats must face the new reality.  To help our non-“political valley” readers keep up here is the Statehouse Beat column by Phil Kabler. Stay informed here.

An editorial in the Charleston Daily Mail also addresses the aftermath as it impacts the Legislature.  Read it here.


Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

Today is a new day in the political world.  Yesterday brought cheers to some and extreme disappointment to many.  What happen and why, what needs done?

We all know what happen.  On the surface without much sleep or study it appears the Obama team after 2008 made a tactical decision that brought benefits yesterday.  They left a staff footprint in places they knew were must wins for a second term – Ohio for one.  It took entirely too long for Republicans to find their nominee.  The Obama negative machine kicked in to define Romney before he could turn around.  The need to carefully handle the extreme branch of the Republican Party delayed Romney’s message that Republicans must work with Democrats to address the nation’s needs.  Not to be forgotten or even understood was why no effort was made to show the human side of this descent man.  Finally, there was that lady Sandy a late arrival to the political world.

What needs to be done?  The Republican Party’s tent needs to be expanded.  A serious look needs to be taken at the demographics and appeal to people in the minority and immigrant communities.  I recall Karl Rove telling us in early 2001 that for President Bush to win in 2004 we needed Hispanics.  Bush won 44 percent of Hispanics in 2004 and Romney 27 percent yesterday.

We know what happen in West Virginia.  Success came to Republicans by winning the Attorney General’s office with Patrick Morrisey and Allen Loughry becoming a member of the Supreme Court.  More importantly the gains made by Republican candidates for the Legislature is huge.  That is where real change in public policy comes from.  Overall the Democrats continued winning most major offices in the Executive Branch and the US Senate seat.

Governor Romney continued the Republican trend started by George W. Bush in 2000 when he became the first non-incumbent Republican to do so in 70 years.

What needs to be done?  Despite recruiting outstanding statewide GOP candidates as was done this year there is more to it than just filing, raising a small amount of money, attending Republican events and ramping up at Labor Day.  The success of Patrick Morrisey proves you can win but it takes an aggressive campaign, money and a political and marketing strategy.  Is there a lesson to be learned from Allen Loughry’s positive campaign?

Now with the gains in the Legislature it is time for Republicans to develop new public policy ideas with an aggressive communications strategy.

At the county level candidate recruitment should start today.  There are good candidates who did not make it yesterday but need to make a second run.  However, they must be supported by a strong grassroots Republican county committee.

The State Party needs to change the tone of its message, talk about the benefits of a two-party system at all levels and look for new blood where needed.

Finally, too often the party faithful in both parties put off creating the energy required for victory until the next election.  Success comes a day at a time.


Monday, October 29th, 2012

You can bet Sandy would not win any election but all interest is focused on her.  However, Political Junkies like me and a lot of you are wondering what impact she will have and where does things stand as the snow begins to fall.

The immediate impact is likely to be an increase in early voting.  Secondarily, Governor Tomblin has suspended his campaign to oversee the preparations as West Virginians prepare to cope with Sandy.   Candidate Bill Maloney in a tweet urged West Virginians to help each other.

On the practical side campaigns count on last minute door-to- door efforts to turn out their voters.  Many neighborhoods are cleared of campaign signs that might blow away.  Romney signs have been in huge demand and would be hard to replace at this point.

Likely many candidates will postpone trips and county political organizations will cancel get-out-to vote events.  Locally organized phone volunteers with lists at home will continue to call – as long as phone service remains.

Of course, those last minute direct mail pieces will make it as the mail always runs.  But Sandy may cause you to miss a few TV commercials.

Where things stand can be found on a chart [click to see] Secretary of State Tennant tweeted a couple hours go.  It shows county-by-county early votes and absentee ballots returned as of October 29th.

Once Sandy has cast her spell you can bet campaigns will go into a full court press until November 6th election day – hold on…it could be some ride.



Thursday, October 25th, 2012

Books elect presidents not a slick pamphlet laid out like a magazine.  The Obama campaign’s release of this last minute brochure makes him look a candidate running for almost any office on a shoe string budget.

Obama’s brochure has 20 pages covering manufacturing, energy, small business, education, the tax code, improving health care and retirement securing.  These appear to be a rehash of his ideas of the last four years – sort like his speeches.

When Bill Clinton ran for President in 1992 he published 231 page book “Putting People First”.  When the Republicans won the House of Representatives in 1994 they published a 197 page book entitled “Contract with America”.

Candidate Clinton’s book covered 32 topics from Agriculture to women.  He had a serious vision for America.  Contract with America was the result of serious work and was signed by the 367 Republican candidates.

According to POLITICO Obama’s Chicago-based brain trust had intended to highlight four years of “solid, steady progress” in the final days of the race.  On Tuesday a bullet-point plan was released for a second term – which his team long resisted despite appeals from likes of Bill Clinton, Nancy Pelosi and James Carville.

Well I doubt the Obama magazine will become internationally recognized as Newsweek which will cease publishing print edition after nearly 80 years.


A glossy pamphlet isn’t a plan

By Senator Orrin Hatch

A Second First Term

The Wall Street Journal




Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

Voters start to the polls today.  They have faced six elections starting in 2010.  Voters are suffering election fatigue, the candidates are running tried campaigns and the money providers are drained.

Campaigns need energy to be successful.  The Governor’s race in WV has always been the energy creator but not this time.  Governor Tomblin seemed to spend his summer governing and dealing with problems not of his doing.  Candidate Maloney has worked under the radar.  Neither generating the enthusiasm required.

Today the action appears to be race for Attorney General.  Hardly what one would expect with a candidate (Morrisey) coming from outside our borders.   Incumbent McGraw has faced difficult battles in the past but not like this one.  It appears Morrisey is running a website campaign with an ad on every site visited.  I would have advised McGraw to follow a different campaign strategy than he has for years.  One that would have generated energy to fuel his re-election bid.  We’ll see.

There have been no public polls since R L Repass and Partners released their work in early September for the WV Chamber of Commerce.  But you can bet if Candidate Maloney had an internal poll showing him at the edge of victory it would have been leaked – or he would be writing another big check.  He needs the energy I recall from Governor Underwood’s 1996 for him to win.

The incumbent Governor Tomblin is expected to be in the lead.  His concern should be Southern voters who were a big factor in his earlier election.  Southern coal miners are not going to vote for Obama – that is a given.  But will they leave their traditional Democratic party to vote for Romney?  They may just not vote.  Remember when United Mine Workers declared a holiday in 1996 so their members would go out and vote for Democrat Charlotte Pritt.  Cecil Underwood won while the miners went squirrel hunting.

What could save Democrats in close races across the state is Senator Manchin.  Though he appears safe for re-election he is out working every day and has made some strategic moves.

Republican Party leaders have created high expectations among their county leaders.  Most see hope for a top down victory starting with Governor Romney.  The question is…will Romney have coattails?  If not, despite Republicans putting up their best slate of Board of Public Works candidates in years success may not be at their doorstep.

With such outstanding candidates and the need to change various state officials I would have offered this strategy.  One that was coordinated from the top that included fund raising, messaging, scheduling and marketing.  However, one thing being coordinated is the GOP effort to get-out-the vote thru eight Victory offices spread around the state.  This should pay dividends.

The Democratic Party has always run coordinated get-out-vote efforts.  Not much has ever been known about the elements used.  With the baggage of Obama on that ticket their candidates had better hope the party faithful go to the polls.

The most important take away message from this piece is don’t let fatigue keep you from the polls.

Bob’s View

Monday, October 15th, 2012

[Editor’s Note:  After the last presidential debate I got an email from Bob Harris a longtime friend.  He provided me his views about the debate and Obama’s inability to use the tools of his position.  Bob is an astute observer of Washington, the national political scene and Congress. I thought Bob’s email observation and the Michael Gerson column he sent would be interesting reading before tomorrow’s presidential debate.  He agreed to this being published.]

Throughout Obama’s Presidency, I have complained about his inability to use the White House and his powerful position to any advantage, whether politically or diplomatically.  He just hasn’t seemed to understand and, therefore take advantage, of his own office.  It is his only for the trappings.  Very frustrating…

Obama debate performance and week following has further demonstrated his total lack of understanding of his office and how to use.  He stood side-by-side with Romney and let Romney dominate him in a debate — this after nearly 4 years of standing next to leaders from around the world. Odd and very frustrating…but not unexpected.

Romney has more positions that some jockeys have mounts during a racing season.  He can’t find one he likes and will stick to it long enough to embrace it.

I am forwarding Michael Gerson’s column from the Post today pointing out how Romney has found a new voice — a convincing voice at that.  It is the voice of “his inner centrist.”  This is very important and it must be understood for what it is by the President and the Obama team before the next debate.  If Obama does not turn this new trend toward Romney by the debate next week, he will be inside the 16th pole with blinkers on, not seeing Romney charging past him from behind.

The column is below, but I pulled out the last paragraph to highlight here:

“Anger in the Obama camp is understandable. Romney seems comfortable with his new tone — almost relieved to be back into Massachusetts mode. He is better positioned to appeal to independents in Ohio and elsewhere. And Obama is still reacting to Romney, not the other way around. Days after they parted in Denver, Romney is still dominating the debate.”

This is where the President’s lack of understand of the power of his office really comes through.  An incumbent president should never be in the position of responding…And, that is what we have seen for the past 3-plus years, why should anyone expect that to change during the campaign.

From Romney, a change in tone, not policy

By Michael Gerson, Published: October 8

Mitt Romney’s debate message has become his campaign strategy. In Denver, he was a bipartisan dealmaker, concerned about the lives of real people, especially when they inhabit battleground states. A day later, he apologized for his “47 percent” comment — which should have been done weeks before. In that same interview, he went on to talk about social mobility: “The gap between the rich and the poor has gotten larger. . . . I want the poor to get into the middle class.” His stump speech now features populist themes. Romney has discovered his inner centrist.

After considering their range of options, critics have chosen apoplexy. Democratic officials accused Romney of “outright fabricating” and “basically lying.” David Axelrod called Romney “Gantry-esque” — a charge of exceptional viciousness, hidden by literary obscurity. (Sinclair Lewis’s Elmer Gantry was an alcoholic, abusive, sacrilegious fraud.) President Obama, after recovering from the Denver altitude, set out this challenge: “If you want to be president, you owe the American people the truth.”

So is Romney being “dishonest” (Axelrod) or tacking a bit toward the middle, as presidential candidates often do? Is this readjustment fraudulent or merely later than expected?

For the most part, Romney has shifted his tone and emphasis, not his policy. All along, he has proposed tax reform, not merely tax cuts. He never opposed all federal financial regulations — though this is not the kind of thing a Republican emphasizes in the primaries. In these cases, Romney hasn’t changed his plans. He has merely refuted caricatures of his plans. You can hardly blame a man for refusing to be a straw man.

On a few issues in the debate, Romney’s transformation seemed a little too eager. Maintaining education funding seems at odds with his proposal for a 5 percent, across-the-board cut in federal discretionary spending — though it wouldn’t be that hard to make up $3.5 billion in education cuts elsewhere in a $425 billion domestic discretionary budget, if this is Romney’s intention. His health plan would not guarantee insurance coverage for people with preexisting conditions in every case. But it would heavily subsidize the purchase of health insurance and guarantee that anyone with coverage could move from insurance to insurance without facing preexisting-condition exclusions.

These claims are within the bounds of normal, unscripted imprecision during a debate. For the most part, Romney was attempting to present his moderate conservative agenda in a favorable light to independent voters. I’d prefer that agenda to be more creative, particularly in promoting equal opportunity and social mobility. But it is not deception to emphasize the most appealing portions of your proposals. It is the nature of political persuasion.

The accusation of lying shuts down all genuine policy debate. Romney promises, for example, a 20 percent, across-the-board reduction in income taxes, with lost revenue made up by economic growth and cutting loopholes and deductions for the wealthy. I suspect these sources, in the end, would not be sufficient. So you can either close some loopholes for the upper middle class or reduce the 20 percent tax cut (a prospect one of Romney’s economic advisers has raised). This is worth a debate. But such a debate is rendered impossible by the questioning of motives. This is a genuine disagreement, not attempted fraud. Romney is making an argument, not engaged in a plot. And a refusal to engage the argument indicates an inability to engage the argument seriously or successfully.

Those who urge Obama in the next debate to call Romney a liar, or close to it, are doing him no favors.  It is one thing to do this on the stump, where taunting and mocking result in applause. It is another thing to try this tactic face to face, where it nearly always seems desperate and small. Because of the manner of Obama’s failure in the first debate — by being too passive — he will need to be more aggressive in the next. But that is a difficult trait to calibrate, particularly in a president prone to public petulance. A small turn of the faucet and the cold water suddenly scalds.

Anger in the Obama camp is understandable. Romney seems comfortable with his new tone — almost relieved to be back into Massachusetts mode. He is better positioned to appeal to independents in Ohio and elsewhere. And Obama is still reacting to Romney, not the other way around. Days after they parted in Denver, Romney is still dominating the debate.




Sunday, June 10th, 2012

It is a quiet day along the Tygart River.  I hope you are in a quiet spot.  Here is some Sunday reading.

Obama’s real opponent:  Europe 

By Dana Milbank (The Washington Post)

Some think that Ohio will decide the presidential election.  Others are watching Florida or North Carolina or Wisconsin.

But if you really want to know who will win the White House in November, you should ask the Europeans.  They aren’t eligible to vote, but they may well cast the deciding ballot – and for President Obama, it’s looking grim.  Read the full story here. 

With friends like these…

By Kathleen Parker (The Washington Post) 

For the past year, we’ve been relentlessly reminded that Republicans didn’t especially love their front-running president candidate.

Now it appears Obama is getting a taste of Romney’s stew.  Democrats seem to be inching away from their man, undermining and diminishing the president with a thousand ting cuts.  Not even his strongest alleged ally, Bill Clinton, can stay on message.  Of course, Clinton has never really been Obama’s friend, despite his assertions to the contrary.  Read the full story here. 

Sure, This isn’t ’08, but There May Be More at Stake This Campaign

By Richard W. Stevenson (Political Memo, The New York Times)

Washington – The current presidential campaign is producing very few goose bumps, except perhaps among those who get all tingly when they view billionaire-financed attack ads.  Read the full story here.

Poppy Chic

By Maureen Dowd (The New York Times)

I flew down to Houston last year to have lunch with George Herbert Walker Bush.

“Did you come because you think I’m going to die?” he asked me with a wry smile.  Read the full story here.



Disbelief and Disappointment

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

Mike Teets entry into the race to replace Agriculture Commissioner Gus Douglass did not surprise anyone.  But his abrupt departure four days before the deadline to withdraw caught his supporters and Republican leaders by surprise.

A greater surprise [maybe] came last night when he endorsed Walt Helmick in the five person Democratic primary.   The only way to describe the reaction was disbelief and disappointment.

This whole thing is strange.  It is known Helmick requested a meeting with Teets just days after Commissioner Douglass announced he would not seek re-election.  Rumor has it that Teets made clear to Helmick he planned to run – and considered his 2008 race to be an investment for 2012.

Teets and his loyal supporters spent the summer of 2011 preparing for the race.  He filed pre-candidacy papers, developed campaign tools, in October issued a formal announcement and filed for the office January 24, 2012.

Is there a quid pro quo here?  It will take Helmick’s election to get that answer.  Then again we may never know what caused this turn of events.