Labors of Love

Reporter’s Notebook

First of all, happy Labor Day. Whether you choose to be part of a labor union or not, whether you’re building a pipeline or teaching a math class, we all benefit from the work you all do.

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As predicted by me and most people in the know, Clay County Delegate Roger Hanshaw won out to become the next speaker of the House of Delegates.

I wouldn’t expect any earth-shattering changes between now and January when Hanshaw will have to be selected again. But there are two changes I expect to see over the next couple of months.

First, my sources tell me that Del. Eric Nelson, the Republican chairman of the House Finance Committee, could be moving on. The Kanawha County native could very well be the next Commerce Department secretary. After several rounds of voting during the House Republican Caucus Aug. 28, it was between Hanshaw and Nelson in the end, with Hanshaw being the apparent victor.

Replacing Nelson as finance chair could be Del. Eric Householder, R-Berkeley. Speaking of the Eastern Panhandle, I’m also told that House Majority Leader Darrell Cowles, the Morgan County Republican, could be replaced by Del. Riley Moore, R-Jefferson.

Those two changes could well mean a difference in what kind of bills come through the chamber. It could also mean a real chance at tax reform, which has floundered the last couple of years.

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What’s next for Don Blankenship? The Constitution Party candidate won’t be on the November ballot for U.S. Senate unless he decides to do a write-in campaign, or a miracle happens. The only avenue left to him as an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

First of all, timing is a huge factor here. Absentee ballots, by state code, have to be delivered to county clerks by Sept. 21. That’s 18 days folks. Secondly, Blankenship hasn’t had the best of luck with appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court.

State Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, might want to give Blankenship a phone call and patch things up.

Morrisey upset several of the Republican primary candidates while on the campaign train. He’s known as a bull dog and a hard charger, and that led to several incidents with other candidates that left bad tastes in their mouths, including Blankenship.

One public incident between Morrisey and Blankenship involved Morrisey trying to get Blankenship in trouble with his parole office — he was convicted of a misdemeanor for “conspiring to willfully violate mine safety and health standards” — for missing a campaign finance deadline. His supervised release expired on May 8, the day of the primary.

I’m not sure Blankenship would admit this, but his campaign is nothing but a way to get revenge against Morrisey and spoil his chances at defeating the Democratic nominee, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin. If I had spent a year in prison and had someone tattle on me to my parole office the day before my parole ended, I’d be mad too.

Morrisey should find a way to make good with Blankenship, because even if Blankenship doesn’t get on the November ballot, he could still flood the race with commercials attacking Morrisey.

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The WV MetroNews/Dominion Post West Virginia Poll from Rex Repass came out Friday.

Released at the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting and Business Summit at the Greenbrier Resort, it showed Manchin with an 8-point lead over Morrisey, 46 percent to 38 percent.

Is this an accurate barometer of the race currently? Good question. It certainly is a snapshot, but it’s a very blurry snapshot.

First of all, they don’t release a margin of error with the poll. They use what they call a “hybrid methodology,” meaning it’s a combination of automated phone calls, live phone calls with real questioners, and online surveys.

Also, they didn’t start the poll until the week after President Donald Trump visited the state two weeks ago. That means it might reflect part of a bump for Morrisey, but who knows if it does? This poll could be better for Morrisey or better for Manchin. Take it with a full shaker of salt.

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Lastly, on Friday we had a late breaking item hit with the announcement of the resignation of West Virginia Lottery Director Alan Larrick.

The Governor’s Office announced the resignation in a release and statement at 4 p.m. At that point I had been calling around for 20 minutes before the announcement was released. Justice Communication Director Butch Antolini didn’t pick up and no one at Lottery knew who to direct me to. The Department of Revenue didn’t even know.

Sources tell me that Larrick was pushed out by Bray Cary, advisor to the governor. As to why, I don’t know, but it’s not much of a secret that Justice and Cary want integrity fees — basically money paid to the sports leagues to make them feel better. I never got the impression that Larrick was against integrity fees though.

The Governor’s Office still hopes to find a way to circumvent the Legislature, which has made it clear they don’t want to have professional sports leagues siphon off money that could be going to the state.

This is a developing story which I will keep following.

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