CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Some election observations:
I had a hunch a Republican would win one of the two seats on the state Supreme Court ... I just bet on the wrong horse.
I underestimated how much name recognition Allen Loughry could generate in a very short timeframe.
However, even though it was cut off in midstream, the $350,000 of public campaign financing Loughry received was far more than he could have raised on his own, and he used it for an excellent TV ad campaign -- with initial whimsical spots capped off with a strong message that he was not a millionaire, but would be an honest justice. (Kudos to George Manahan and crew.)
He also got an invaluable amount of free publicity this fall when he went to the Supreme Court seeking the release of matching funds under the public financing pilot project -- and it probably didn't help rival Tish Chafin that attorneys acting on her behalf attempted to intervene to block the funds.
Conversely, Chafin's final campaign spot was confusing, dismissive of lawyers who "like to deal in fine print." Isn't that what the law is about?
Also, the Chafin name is negative baggage in certain parts of the state. Ironically, Chafin finished fourth in Mercer County, with only about 23 percent of the vote, even though the county is in husband Truman Chafin's senatorial district.
(Loughry, by the way, brought in a fork and a picture his son, Justus, had drawn for me of a crow. I said, give me a break, I was the only pundit who didn't predict a Chafin victory.
I then feigned a senior moment, claiming I got the Republicans confused, and typed "Yoder," when I meant "Loughry.")
Best one-sentence summary of the election: Darrell McGraw was a 20th-century candidate who ran a 19th century-style campaign.
While he was getting hit with $1.6 million of independent expenditure attack ads, McGraw relied on fliers, appearances at fairs and festivals -- and one poorly produced, little-aired TV spot.
While many politicos believe the "Scream in Racine" played a bigger role than Don Blankenship's dollars in defeating Warren McGraw in 2004 Supreme Court race, the video of Darrell McGraw grabbing the camera away from a Morrisey "tracker" in Milton did more damage to the attorney general than we first imagined.
(Unlike 2004, there were no commercial spots using the footage, but in this day and age, emails with a YouTube link are more than sufficient.)
That being said, like most political observers, I thought McGraw would squeak through yet again. That voters would regard Patrick Morrisey as an outsider to West Virginia, retained by the corporate entities tired of an attorney general's office that aggressively pursued consumer protection efforts.