It’s difficult to comprehend the magnitude of the Republicans’ Nov. 3 annihilation of West Virginia Democrats. Just 10 years ago, it would have been impossible for GOP partisans to even dream of such success.
Gone are the days of what appeared to be permanent Republican minority status.
Now outnumbering Democrats 23-11, Republicans are in control. With a veto-proof House of Delegates as well, the Republican Legislature could do whatever it wants.
Having a fellow Republican as governor furthers that possibility. West Virginians will see if GOP rule is really what they craved.
Some politicians and parties are better suited in minority roles, it seems. I remember telling the late Republican Charleston Mayor Kent Strange Hall that he functioned better as the loyal opposition than when being the decision-maker. Voters obviously agreed, electing him as mayor in 1995 but defeating him in the primary after one term. Prior to that, he was treasurer and a city official in one way or another for years.
As treasurer, he was often the outspoken opposition to plans of Charleston mayors.
In that regard, I’m not at all sure West Virginia Republicans are cut out to govern. We’re about to find out.
Businessman John Mandt Jr. has been given a second chance by Cabell countians. By a narrow margin, he defeated Huntington City Councilman Mark Bates for third place in the three-member 16th District in the state House of Delegates.
In a bizarre turn of events, Mandt recently resigned the House seat he was elected to in 2018 after anti-LGBTQ social media posts were made public.
Mandt alternately claimed the posts were hoaxes and also asked forgiveness for writing them.
Several of the posts credited to Mandt included slurs against fellow 16th District Republican Delegate Daniel Linville. The delegate has been in hot water before for anti-Islamic and homophobic remarks.
It will be interesting to see how these two GOP delegates get along during the 2021 session. Until now, Linville has shown remarkable restraint in dealing with Mandt.
Despite resigning, it was too late for Mandt to get off the ballot. So, voters reelected the wayward delegate.
Another pair of Republican delegates that will be fascinating to watch are in District 13, where incumbent Josh Higginbotham will be joined by Jonathan Pinson.
Pinson, an ultra conservative, actually outpolled his fellow Republican by 2,000 votes. Higginbotham just held off Democrat and former Delegate Scott Brewer by 300 votes for second.
It’s no secret that far right-wing Republicans are dissatisfied with Higginbotham, claiming he’s not conservative enough.
Rumors throughout the general election persisted that Pinson was supporting Brewer — not Higginbotham — for the second seat.
I’ve predicted big things for Republican state Senator-elect Amy Grady in District 4. She’s an attractive candidate for many reasons, not the least of which is her intelligence and ability to clearly articulate ideas.
Known as a giant slayer for defeating Senate President Mitch Carmichael in the primary, Grady is a freshman legislator to watch in the 2021 session. I predict that, politically, she won’t be stopping at the Senate chamber.
While female Democrat candidates rightfully made much of their “Mountain Mommas” candidates this year, Republican women were well represented.
U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito leads the GOP women. Then there’s U.S. Rep. Carol Miller.
In Cabell County, Nancy Cartmill was elected to another term on the county commission. A newcomer in Logan, Diana Barnette, will shake up the traditionally all-Democrat county commission there in January.
Barnette is bright and voices a common-sense approach to promoting tourism as economic development.
A West Virginia Executive magazine article said, “Barnette refers to herself as an accidental entrepreneur, [but] the spunk and determination she has exhibited from an early age are evidence that her success has been anything but accidental.
“When asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, the only thing she knew for certain was that she wanted to be in charge.”
Two outstanding Democrats — Danny Godby and Danny Ellis — remain on the Logan Commission, but expect lots of production from this bright Republican.
Meanwhile the red wave led by President Trump — in West Virginia, anyway — was apparent all over the state. Nowhere was it more noticeable than Mingo County, where veteran Democrat County Commissioner Greg “Hootie” Smith lost reelection to Republican Gavin Smith.
Personally, I think Mingo voters made a mistake on this one. “Hootie” Smith is well respected throughout the state and provided honest, efficient leadership for decades.
Gavin Smith did not even respond to interview requests from the Williamson Daily News prior to the election.