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Statehouse Beat: Poore joins House hopefuls

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- As a resident of the 37th Delegate District, I was despondent about the possibility of losing Meshea Poore as my representative in the House -- until I was reminded that at this point in 1999, there were at least six or seven Democratic "candidates" for the open 2nd Congressional District seat.

Ultimately, when the filing deadline closed in January 2000, there were only four Democrats on the ballot, and one was fringe candidate Beth Taylor. Among those who announced their candidacies in 1999 but ultimately opted not to run were Delegates Jon Amores and Mark Hunt.

Were I advising Poore, I'd say stay in the House, where her star is rising to the point that there's been speculation she could be named Judiciary chairwoman, rather than attempting a quixotic run for Congress.

(Then again, making a run for Congress makes more sense if one anticipates the House of Delegates flips Republican in 2014.)

With money and name recognition, Nick Casey will be tough to beat in the primary, and once the primary's over, this is still a congressional district that Larry Sabato pegs as "likely Republican."

(Based on that, I asked state GOP Chairman Conrad Lucas if the party has an ace-in-the-hole candidate who has yet to announce. He said not as far as he knows, and presumes Sabato's Crystal Ball rating is based on historical performance.)

Also, Delegate Ron Walters, R-Kanawha, said rumors he's getting in the race aren't true, at least not at the present. 

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More changes at Department of Health and Human Resources: Interim commissioner for the Bureau for Children and Families Doug Robinson is retiring at the end of the month. DHHR Secretary Karen Bowling reportedly told Robinson she wants to put together her own team of commissioners.

Robinson was appointed interim commissioner in July 2012 by ex-acting secretary Rocco Fucillo. Concerns are that its coming at a bad time with health-care reform in the works, since BCF runs the local offices where eligibility for programs like Medicaid are determined.

Meanwhile, Fucillo is still on the state payroll, with his same salary of $98,400, and a new title as of July 1 of "DHHR executive."

Word is, he's been instructed to gear up his private sector job search, however, and that he should not consider his current position to be long-term.

Fucillo is probably unfireable, since that would be the final blow to any possible defense to the whistleblower suit brought by ex-DHHR counsel Jennifer Taylor and Susan Perry.

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Following a recent item as to why John Raese is taking the demise of the Mountaineer Sports Network so personally, an industry insider sent this note:

"The idea that JR is taking the loss of WVU Athletics so personally because he built MetroNews and West Virginia Radio Corp. is interesting, but I think John's ego is ultimately tied to coin.

"The loss of WVU football and basketball means WVRC can no longer bundle their programming. Let's say you own WPKR-AM in Ona. Let's also say you want to carry the Mountaineers. What WVRC could do was make you an offer you probably couldn't refuse: You can get the Mounties for your station, but you also have to clear their pre- and post-game shows, plus you'll get a deal if you take Sportsline, and Talkline with the steam-released Hoppy Kercheval.  It would also be nice if you would consider being a MetroNews affiliate.

"How many non-WVRC stations carry Hoppy and MetroNews just to get WVU football and basketball? Will they continue to do so if those shows aren't bundled with sports? That is the very real threat to JR's radio empire.

"Having said all that, I am not a fan of West Virginia Media Holdings. Their production values are horrible. The coaches' shows they do are unwatchable. I can't imagine how they could pretend to have the talent or resources to do any of the non-conference games plus the weekly coaches shows."

Points well taken. As noted here before, nearly 30 years ago, MetroNews built its identity through its ties to WVU sports, to the point it was able to vanquish rival statewide radio network Mountainet.

What will be interesting to see, as the WVU/IMG Sports radio network is assembled, is whether Raese will swallow his pride and have WVRC stations sign on as affiliates. Better to have a small piece of the pie than none at all.

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Finally, congrats to Jann Hoke, director of the governor's Office of Equal Employment Opportunity, for receiving one of 48 national Henry Toll Fellowships from the Council of State Governments.

Regarded as the nation's premier leadership development program for state government officials, state alumni of the Toll Fellowship program include Robin Capehart, Carte Goodwin, Brooks McCabe and John Unger.

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

 

 


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