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Statehouse Beat: Tomblin shines through storm

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Final election thoughts:

If there was any doubt, his leadership during the Big Sandy Superstorm likely sealed the deal for Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's re-election this Tuesday.

I was talking to a Tomblin operative back on Oct. 26, saying the incoming storm presented a real opportunity for the governor to show leadership. Yes, said the operative, but also the possibility of bungling things badly.

As it turned out, there was no reason for pessimism. Tomblin smartly ordered National Guard troops and Division of Highways crews into strategic locations in advance of the hurricane/blizzard, assuring they could begin assisting with clearing roads and checking on isolated households immediately.

Within hours, shelters opened and the state secured 700,000 military Meals Ready to Eat and 1.4 million liters of water to feed anyone dislocated by the storm.

As would be expected, the governor provided regular updates on the status of storm recovery, and joined U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin on a three-day inspection tour of the hardest-hit areas.

From a campaign perspective, for the two-thirds of households that had power, Tomblin got a priceless amount of TV time on the major networks, the cable news networks, and on the Weather Channel, which at the peak of the storm was drawing close to 40 million viewers.

A Google News search Friday brought up 18 pages of articles referencing Tomblin in the past week. (Actually, there were more than 18 pages, but the remainder were foreign language publications, referring to Tomblin as "Il Governatore," "Le Governeur," and my personal favorite, "Der Governeur.")

The search for Bill Maloney articles brought up just over two pages, with a third page containing just four articles - with the fourth being a Daily Athenaeum editorial endorsing Manchin and Tomblin that mentioned Maloney ...

Remarkably, Maloney was on statewide radio Friday calling the recovery efforts unacceptable, and said, "Sitting in an office with a nice suit on making calls won't get things done."

(Maloney was apparently unaware that, at that point, Tomblin had either been to, or was en route to 10 of the hardest-hit counties...)

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I did get a kick out of Maloney's recent TV spot, in which he says, "Are you tired of all the negative ads? I know I am," -- and then proceeds to launch into yet another attack on Tomblin ...

Not so amusing was a last-minute e-mail and website which despicably accuses Tomblin of requesting a pardon in 2001 for a "convicted child rapist."

The facts are that the individual in question had been arrested and convicted at age 19 of third-degree sexual assault for having consensual sexual relations with his teenage girlfriend, had served his time and completed parole, and sought a pardon since the criminal record was making it impossible for him to pursue any educational or career opportunities.

The "source" of the e-mail was one Marvin Astley, which turns out to be the name of a minor character on "The Family Guy" TV series, but all evidence suggests the real source is West Virginia's answer to Donald Segretti, Maloney consultant Greg Thomas ...

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The most interesting race Tuesday night may be state Supreme Court. It's just a gut feeling, but I think Circuit Judge John Yoder finishes second to Justice Robin Davis for the two seats on the high court.

Part of that is based on how closely Yoder came in the 2010 special election against Justice Thomas McHugh.

Secondly, there's a segment of West Virginia voters that won't vote for two women for statewide office -- and a much larger segment of state voters that won't vote for two Charlestonians.

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If Attorney General Darrell McGraw pulls out another nail-biter Tuesday, it will be because he played the "He's not one of us" card against recent New Jerseyian and Washingtonian Patrick Morrisey.

Portraying an opponent as an outsider almost never fails in West Virginia politics -- and it was never done better than in 1998 when Sen. Randy Schoonover, who had barely gotten through Clay County High School, used it to beat Harvard Law grad Mark Burnette in his re-election bid.

(More election thoughts Monday.)

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Finally, the most disturbing trend of this election cycle: Children in campaign commercials.

Supreme Court candidate Allen Loughry's son, Justus, was featured predominately in two ads. (All in all, it would not be a stretch to say Loughry had the best campaign spots of any statewide candidate this election cycle.)

Likewise, Delegate Mark Hunt, D-Kanawha, featured his young son in an ad (along with a lot of other family members).

Delegate Doug Skaff, D-Kanawha, had a whole slew of kids appearing in his TV spots. 

And let's not forget, the ad that kicked off the Maloney general election campaign was "A Brighter Future," better remembered as the "sad kids under Obama/happy Republican kids" spot.

With the possible exception of Honey Boo Boo, I'm not sure we are well served getting political guidance from children ...

Reach Phil Kabler at philk@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.

 


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