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...)
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 ...