Last updated: August 27. 2014 1:06AM - 731 Views
By Ron Gregory ronjgregory@gmail.com

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So you thought Mingo County politics was bizarre?

Last week, four West Virginia state senators and at least one staffer traveled to Plains, Georgia, to present former President Jimmy Carter with an award. The certificate, issued by Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, declared Carter to be an “Honorary West Virginian.”

While one of the senators said the proclamation was issued in honor of Carter’s birthday, nothing on the certificate actually explained what the former president did to earn the honor.

State Sen. Bob Beach of Monongalia County was particularly excited at meeting Carter. He exclaimed on Facebook that it was one of his “bucket list” items. Two of the three other senators are actually Christian ministers, who apparently had no disagreement when Carter supported Hamas the week before in a national op-ed article.

Perhaps Tomblin, Beach and senators John Unger, William Laird and Ron Miller do not actually remember the Carter days. Remember lines at the gas pumps, 21 percent interest rates and the Iranian hostage debacle? For that, they made Carter an honorary West Virginian?

Senate public relations guru Lynette Maselli insisted Friday that the senators “drove their own cars” to Plains. She said staffer Steve McElroy was “on vacation.” Maselli said there was no public expense for the delivery.

Beach would not respond to my question as to whether he supports the Carter position on Hamas.

Republicans will try to exploit the Carter trip for November 4 election purposes. On the other hand, GOP candidates try to blow any opportunity to win legislative seats. New Yorker Michel Moffatt continues to fill social media with his support for right-wing causes and the Republican party in general. In a largely Democrat district, the wisdom of that move is at best questionable. Yet Moffatt told me he is the “Republican nominee” and proud of it. That and a dollar gets a McDonald’s cup of coffee.

State Senate Republican candidate Gary Johngrass, meanwhile, spouts the same GOP party line and called me an “old fool” for suggesting that was a mistake in his campaign against Democrat incumbent Ron Stollings.

As GOP Gov. Arch A. Moore Jr. always said, “Get all the Republicans together and you know what you’ve got? You’ve got beat.”

For authentic mountain entertainment, a visit to the Aunt Jennie Wilson Festival this weekend at Chief Logan State Park is just the ticket. Roger Bryant does a fabulous job putting things together. It’s Saturday from 4 to 11 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 7 p.m.

Call me a cynic. Who, me? Still, I have to recall the days when a county state road supervisor under Moore was indicted for using state employees to build a home on his private property with state material.

In a county with about 70 percent Democrat registration, a jury was selected made up of all Republicans. The supervisor was, astonishingly, acquitted.

That brings to mind the three-judge panel selected to consider charges against GOP Kanawha County Prosecutor Mark Plants. In a state where Democrat judges outnumber Republicans by roughly five-to-one, the choices ended up being two Republicans and a Democrat.

Aren’t such coincidences interesting?

Meanwhile, a Washington, D.C., newspaper has described how out of touch West Virginia’s senior U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller is with the state he allegedly represents. Although Rockefeller, with West Virginia barely an hour away from D.C., visits constituents less than most congressional representatives, he is costing the taxpayers a small fortune.

An example cited by the Washington Examiner was a trip Rockefeller made to West Virginia earlier this year. It cost taxpayers $9,667 because the senator insists on traveling by private plane. By contrast, Rockefeller’s economic development director and my good friend, Brandy Lynn Messer, made the same trip one month earlier for $300. She took one of the daily scheduled flights instead.

The article in the Examiner said Rockefeller lives like the millionaire he is – and sends the bills to taxpayers.

What a dilemma it would be if the courts rule Republicans can name a candidate to the House of Delegates ballot to replace Suzette Raines of Kanawha County. That would make one wonder why Democrats did not get to do the same for county commission in Mingo.

Why GOP staff would waste time trying to get a losing primary candidate on the Kanawha House ballot is still beyond me. Her father, former state Sen. Vic Sprouse, could not even win a school board seat but Republicans act as though he’s a political genius.

Your comments, story ideas, gossip and nominations for Honorary West Virginian are always welcome. Call my cell, 304-533-5185, or use my email.

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