Last updated: July 18. 2013 2:20PM - 275 Views
Ron Gregory
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Unlike some statehouse reporters, we never vacation here. Instead, we are always on hand to spin our web.


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Judging by the enthusiasm and size of the crowd, it may be virtually impossible for anyone to slow down Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito in her move to the United States Senate.


Capito definitely packed them in and got a rousing response from those gathered at the Logan Country Club in Chapmanville over the weekend.


Billed “A Gathering in the Hills,” the event brought together Capito supporters from Boone, Lincoln, Logan and Mingo counties. There was even some spill-over from adjoining counties and the place was full of cheering partisans.


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While Capito cannot ignite a crowd like her father, former three-term Governor Arch A. Moore, Jr. did (who can?), the congresswoman appears to get better and better as she continues her public service.


Capito’s speech Saturday night included just enough political “red meat” to keep her partisan supporters enthused and it was sprinkled with calls for unity that inspired Democrats and Independents who paid $25 a plate for the privilege of hearing her. The congresswoman also kept the crowd interested with family anecdotes that brought chuckles and cheers.


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When Capito talked of her first congressional election, in which she trailed for most of the night before surging to a minimal lead, it brought a chorus of laughter.


The congresswoman said her mother, First Lady Shelley Moore, was closeted in a room alone with her head in her hands as her daughter took the narrow lead.


“I looked at her and said, ‘it’s okay, Mom. We might still win and, if we don’t, it isn’t the end of the world.”


The First Lady continued to look as though a train wreck had just occurred.


After trying again to console her mother, who she thought was strangely upset “after me and my family had been in 36 elections,” Capito said her mother finally looked up.


“You don’t understand how bad it is,” she intoned. “Hillary Clinton just got elected to the United States Senate.”


Capito deadpanned, “And I thought she was worried about her daughter!”


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State Senate Clerk Joe Minard and his wife, Mary, helped Boone Democrat Senator Ron Stollings and his friend, Helen, celebrate Stollings’ birthday last week. Stollings was also honored by the staff at Madison Medical Group.


Minard has said that he and Stollings have become “good buddies,” over the years.


Minard, a former state senator from Harrison County, operates the family restaurant in Clarksburg that is home to the best spaghetti and salad in the state. My close friend, Alicia, and I often marvel at how a simple lettuce salad can be so far superior to any others.


If anyone has not tasted Minard’s food by now, it is easily worth the trip to Clarksburg to sample some of the fare. And, again, be sure to get a salad — the world’s best.


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Hmmmn. Think I’ll drive to Minard’s today.


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Beside the excellent restaurant business, Minard is one class act when it comes to public service as well. I doubt that I, or most politicians, would have accepted what the governor and state senators did to Minard when Jeff Kessler was installed as acting senate president. By every logical right, Minard should have earned the position but he was double-crossed by many who promised to stick with him.


Still, as noted, Minard took it all with calm and grace, eventually being elevated to the clerk’s position.


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I continue to believe the state — and southern West Virginia in particular — would be better off without Kessler in a leadership role. Hopefully, disgruntled voters will do the right thing next year and sent the senate president packing, even after state senators made backroom deals to put him in charge.


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Back to Capito for a moment. She cheered the mostly Republican crowd Saturday evening by telling them she expects to be the next U.S. Senator while she believes the GOP will hold on to her congressional seat as well as David McKinley’s in the First District. Capito brought on a round of cheers when she said she believes a Republican can be elected in the state’s Third District, now represented by long-time Democrat Congressman Nick Joe Rahall.


Most observers suddenly believe that the Republican most likely to defeat Rahall would be current State Senator Bill Cole of Mercer County.


It is believed that Cole would bring enthusiasm, a keen business sense and his own funding to such a race. Cole is an automobile magnate in the southern edge of the state.


My personal opinion (I’m glad you asked, Phil) is that Cole would be by far the strongest candidate Republicans could field. In fact, I will go out on a limb and predict Cole will defeat Rahall if he get in the race.


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Not so if Fred Snuffer makes another run on the GOP side. I think 2012 was as perfectly positioned for a Republican as it can be in the Third and Snuffer still lost to Rahall. He will lose by a bigger margin in 2014, if he is the GOP candidate.


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Now let me get this straight. The classrooms of America and the country itself have been headed down the tubes since we lost discipline in school. To show discipline, of course, Bible-thumpers think classroom activities HAVE to include the Pledge of Allegiance and an organized prayer each day.


These same folks lament the fact that teachers no longer have control of their classrooms. “When I was a boy (girl), if my dad found out my teacher had whipped me at school, I was in for another one when I got home,” is often the refrain of those who “literally” take the Bible to heart.


Yet, when a Logan Middle School eighth grader got into an altercation with his teacher because he (the student) was wearing a National Rifle Association shirt, the boy’s supporters claim he needed to “stand up” to the teacher, principal and law enforcement officers called to the scene. The lad’s father said he would take the school system to court to enforce his son’s “rights” and dozens of supporters joined in the cry to sue the school board.


As I said last week, I don’t think a public school student has any overriding “rights” while in the classroom. He or she is obligated, as far as I know, “to obey those who have rule over you.” But, only, apparently, if the student agrees with the rules.


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The breakdown of discipline is apparent when the student returned to the school wearing the same offensive shirt. Media reports said he was joined by as many as 100 fellow students who showed their support for him by wearing similar shirts.


Let me make my opinion perfectly clear: the boy should have been banned from school until he agreed to follow the rules. His father should have been charged with upholding truancy.


THAT’S discipline and it is exactly what the pro-gun, Bible-thumpers say they want.


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You can say you read it here first, even if you didn’t. (What’s a little fib among political friends, after all?) Former State Democrat Party Chair Nick Casey, a Charleston lawyer, will announce this week that he is running for Capito’s seat.


Casey will be a tough candidate in what I perceive to be a Republican district. He is widely known as a close confidante of Senator Joe Manchin and is the counsel for the Catholic Church in West Virginia.


By way of transparency, I will admit that Casey is a close personal friend and I will have difficulty criticizing him, if needed. I think Casey is, simply, the salt of the earth.


On the other hand, Republican Senate Minority Leader Mike Hall of Putnam County is a longtime friend and client. If he seeks and wins the GOP nomination, I will definitely be torn.


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On the subject of Manchin, when Capito was delivering her list of expected GOP wins, someone in the Logan crowd shouted, “And we’re getting rid of Joe Manchin!”


Capito, whose family ties to the Manchin family are legendary, deftly responded, “I’ll let you take care of that.”


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Perhaps in a commentary on how much West Virginia has turned “red” in recent years, State Republican Chair Conrad Lucas and other party brass were absent from the Logan event because they were attending a similar affair in Morgan County.


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As usual, comments, tips or story ideas are always welcome and anonymity will be protected. Send an email to the address listed or call me any time at 304-533-5185.


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