Of the 17 West Virginia State Senate races to be determined Nov. 6, 16 are contested. The next is the primary of 16 previews of every race delivered to you by the MetroNews workforce in run-up to Election Day. Search for our previews on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays over the subsequent six weeks.
HUNDRED, W.Va. — No different senate district in West Virginia can declare voters in as many counties because the state’s second senatorial district.
Lengthy a Democratic stronghold that includes names like Jeff Kessler and Larry Edgell, the state’s de facto pure fuel hub borders Ohio and Pennsylvania in a number of elements of the district — a spot booming with potential because of the pure fuel growth of the previous decade.
However it isn’t a Democratic stronghold anymore — at the least for the second. Michael Maroney gained the seat vacated by Kessler through the latter’s unsuccessful bid for the Democratic nomination for Governor in 2016. Two years prior, it was Republican Kent Leonhardt — now the state’s Commissioner of Agriculture — who ousted Larry Edgell by a mere 676 votes. Edgell had been in search of his fifth time period.
Leonhardt’s profitable bid for Commissioner of Agriculture helps, partially, deliver us to the upcoming race on Nov. 6, 2018. Charles Clements, the person appointed to fill Leonhardt’s unexpired time period, will search a full four-year time period for the seat he as soon as aspired to fill 20 years prior.
In 1998, recent off of a brief stint within the Home of Delegates, Clements was defeated by then newcomer Larry Edgell by greater than 2,500 votes.
Between the 2 candidates, the 75-year-old Clements gives the expertise — two years within the Home of Delegates at a time when Republicans have been wildly outnumbered within the mid 1990’s — adopted by these previous two years ending Leonhardt’s time period.
“While I may have been a freshman in the Senate, I knew how the system worked,” he stated. “I knew how everything worked. So I was able, really, to hit the ground running.”
That helped, Clements stated, result in the passage of S.B. 360, a invoice he sponsored — designed to guard West Virginia’s mineral rights royalty house owners from post-production value deductions by extraction corporations.
His opponent, Democrat Denny Longwell, gives no such expertise in political workplace. Moderately, the 71-year-old Longwell brings to the desk his army expertise as a Hospital Corpsman (although he regrets he didn’t serve abroad throughout Vietnam), an iron and metal employee, and an Worldwide Consultant for the United Steelworkers Union from 1986 to 2004.
“Before I ever decided to get in this race, I got involved in the county Democratic Party because I wasn’t satisfied with the Democratic Party as we know it today,” Longwell stated. “It’s not the Democrat Party I knew 30 or 40 years ago.”
Longwell, like Clements, is a local of New Martinsville — the place he lives now. At first, there was no itch to run for workplace. Slightly, the staunchly pro-union Longwell needed to serve on the County Government Committee — serving to at a grassroots degree to rebuild a celebration that he thought had misplaced its really feel for what was as soon as a Democratic stronghold — blue-collar union staff.
Democrats, he stated, can not depend on merely ‘filling a ballot’ — whether or not in West Virginia or throughout the nation — with an individual who merely has some free time to commit and a obscure understanding of civic obligation.
“You need to go out and do your work and find qualified, capable, viable candidates to run,” Longwell stated. “That restores the confidence and the faith in the party by people. There’s a lot of people who sit back and watch. They’re quiet. They never speak up or say anything, but they are watching every move.”
He continued: “And they develop a perception of the Democrats that, ‘They really don’t care. They’re just filling the ballot.’ Well, you see what that’s got them.”
What that’s received them, based on Longwell, is a multitude. He stated he reluctantly voted for Hillary Clinton within the 2016 basic election, however stated he “loves” Bernie Sanders, “admires” Congressional candidates Kendra Fershee and Richard Ojeda, and describes his hero because the late Sen. Paul Wellstone, a Minnesota Democrat and labor stalwart who died in a aircraft crash in 2002.
“(Bernie Sanders) is saying the right things for America,” Longwell stated. “Bridges, roads, infrastructure, water, education, health care. He’s saying all the things.”
Longwell additionally needs to mannequin himself after Del. Dave Pethtel (D – Wetzel, 05) — who as soon as misplaced to Charles Clements, the truth is — and believes that working individuals want a voice in Charleston.
However in an period of political polarization — an period the place all politics are tribal — you could be stunned to listen to Longwell and Sen. Clements have some areas in widespread.
Putting an analogous chord as Longwell on the subject of infrastructure, Clements has lengthy been an advocate for an extension of I-68 additional into the state’s main pure fuel hub — an funding in West Virginia’s long-term future that he thinks most of his colleagues in Charleston don’t acknowledge.
“At one time we had a robust economy based on coal,” Clements stated. “And coal sort of has, unfortunately, been sliding down on the ladder of what we can depend on to base our economy. But the gas industry coming in here — it’s not the gas industry. I want to see us develop what’s going to come from that gas industry.”
Failing to capitalize on downstream alternatives, Clements stated, can be a monumental mistake.
“I want to see an economy grow,” he stated. “I don’t want to see taxes grow. I want to see the revenue growth in our economy. Every revenue equation has two parts — you’ve got the tax rate and the tax base. Let’s grow the tax base and leave the rate where it is.”
Clements owned and operated a wholesale petroleum enterprise in New Martinsville for greater than three many years. When the doorways closed in 2004, he moved onto a job with H&R Block. His world view has been formed by these two roles — as he’s seen on each ends what he believes to be an inefficient tax construction that typically punishes entrepreneurs.
That leads us to one of many main factors of rivalry in what seems to be an in any other case sanguine race — severance taxes.
“We get the people now who continually want to raise the severance tax on this natural gas, I go back and say, ‘We don’t have a monopoly on this natural gas,” Clements stated. “You’re in business for only one reason, and that’s to make money. And they’re going to go put their investments where they can make the most money. If that means spending more time in Pennsylvania or more time in Ohio, that’s what they’re going to do.”
Conversely, Longwell sees potential in growing fuel severance taxes — notably because it pertains to further compensation for the state’s academics and long-term fixes for the a lot maligned Public Staff Insurance coverage Company (PEIA).
“I don’t care what they do in Pennsylvania or Ohio or Timbuktu,” he stated. “The severance tax being increased will help pay the PEIA — fund it.”
Longwell stated Charleston’s Republican management “doesn’t have the right” to run a marketing campaign — any marketing campaign — on bringing an finish to the historic instructor work stoppage earlier this yr.
“For me to define ugly, I simply look back at what happened to the teachers from the majority party in the Legislature,” he stated. “That was ugly. In that party, that same party was out campaigning now that they were responsible for getting that raise for the teachers. They voted against them 14 out of 15 times, and now to claim they got the raise for them? I don’t know any other way to put it, but it’s a blatant lie.”
That’s why Longwell helps further raises for West Virginia’s academics and faculty personnel. In the meantime, Clements is preaching a modicum of endurance because the PEIA Activity Drive — whose creation was a key element in ending the work stoppage — continues to work and collect knowledge.
“The Governor appointed this PEIA Task Force to look at PEIA,” Clements stated. “Then, the thing that sort of frightened me about it is when he said, ‘I’ve got my own plan for PEIA.’ And that makes me think, what are we doing? If we’ve got a task force to work on it, let’s see what they’re going to do.”
Clements added: “If you’ve got a plan Governor, don’t waste the people’s time on this task force.”
The second district stretches to the northwest nook of Marshall County, as far east as Ritchie County’s border with Wirt County, as far south as Calhoun County’s border with Clay County, and thus far east it almost hits Coopers Rock State Forest on the Monongalia County aspect of the border. No different district has such a attain — maybe making it one of the crucial economically distinctive and numerous. A State Senator on this district can see the advantages and the dangers related to pure fuel, the expansion and financial influence West Virginia College has on the outlying area, and the interweaving of city and rural communities — held collectively by loads of trucking visitors and much more potholes.
It will possibly additionally see the problem of business drying up — like in Calhoun County. In complete, the district options all of Wetzel, Tyler, Doddridge, Ritchie, and Calhoun counties. It additionally consists of elements of Gilmer, Marion, Monongalia and Marshall counties.
That drying up of business presents one thing of an curiosity for Clements — who wonders if improved financial circumstances in West Virginia may assist clear up West Virginia’s largest well being issues — notably the opioid and prescription ache killer epidemic.
“I think one of the big problems we have in this state, truthfully, is the demise of the family,” Clements stated. “We’ve lost our family. I’ve talked to people in Charleston that said she had nine students in a room and that only one of those nine was living with their natural parents. The rest of them were living with grandparents, living with single parents, or even with neighbors.”
Higher financial circumstances, he hopes, would remedy that drawback.
The race is, primarily, targeted on two world views of economics. Clements is obvious in his opinion on progress and taxation.
In the meantime, Longwell stated there are causes to be skeptical that right-wing economics will ever assist individuals who labored industrial jobs like he as soon as did. When requested about the way forward for capitalism, he expressed concern and doubt — although he did have some hope in America’s lengthy marriage to free-market rules.
“Capitalism has worked for a long, long time,” Longwell stated. “What I hear the right saying — the majority party in the West Virginia legislature — they’re throwing that word socialism out there. Everybody blames Bernie Sanders about socialism, but you know what some of those social things are.”
“Social Security, your highways, your law enforcement, your firefighters — all those things are social issues. But, yet, we get this perception somehow that that’s bad.”
The race appears completely targeted on economics — provide, demand, human capital, different types of capital and labor.
And, come Nov. 6, voters in elements of 9 counties could have a choice to make on two candidates — each very happy to criticize their very own events.
The selection will come right down to the previous small businessman, Home Delegate, and now State Senator — or the staunchly pro-union metal employee, iron employee and county government who solely entered the race as a result of he felt working individuals weren’t being represented.
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