The primary election held during the difficulties of staying safe during the COVID-19 pandemic was not easy and, at times, challenging to our county clerks and elections staff. But, with proper planning and execution, every precinct opened and West Virginia led the nation in options to vote.
Despite the very successful election, political opponents have already begun spreading misinformation to fit their narratives on social media and in opinion articles.
A statewide election consists of more than 1,700 voting precincts that require more than 9,000 poll workers on Election Day. Deploying a statewide election with well-trained poll workers takes long hours and dedication. To pull this off, it takes undivided attention to listen to the needs of the county clerks and to coordinate state and federal agencies to support the efforts of our county election officials. I am looking forward to telling West Virginia’s story on how to run and manage an election safely while other states struggled.
But Democrat Natalie Tennant is already spreading unfounded stories about her record — and misstating facts.
Now that I have the Secretary of State’s Office running smoothly and operating efficiently, she wants to take credit for things she failed to do as secretary of state in an attempt to get the job back. It is disappointing that she would take such a negative approach this early in the campaign. But that doesn’t surprise many of us, since she has a long track record of taking her eye off the job she was elected to do so she could run for other political offices while being secretary of state.
During her eight years as secretary of state, Ms. Tennant ran for governor against incumbent Earl Ray Tomblin, and lost. Then, she spent nine months crisscrossing the state again — this time, running for U.S. Senate against Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va. Tennant lost that race, as well.
She failed to build consensus among stakeholders, and irritated the very people she most needed to succeed, the county clerks. I had to build key relationships from the ground up.
Through constant contact, listening and staying focused on the job I was elected to do, my administration rebuilt solid working relationships with county clerks, as well as the West Virginia Legislature, constitutional officers and other agencies that played key roles in preparing for and deploying the primary election during COVID-19.
The West Virginia Department of Commerce, local development authorities, chambers of commerce and business associations across the state contributed, and they are leading the long-overdue development of our state’s business services. Never have they had a voice as strong in the Secretary of State’s Office as they have today.
I am very much looking forward to comparing my record during my first term to my opponent’s. Robust debate on the issues will show that my transformation of the office in a very short time took careful planning and detailed execution, quite the contrast to what voters rejected in my opponent in 2016.
I hope Ms. Tennant will not hide from her narratives, as West Virginians deserve to know the truth and the motives behind her assertions. I challenge her to a debate, so voters may learn about both of our management styles and plans for the future.
But for now, my focus is on my job as secretary of state. There is still a lot of work to do. I will continue our implementation of new business services that West Virginia couldn’t imagine possible just a short four years ago.
In the meantime, the West Virginia One Stop Business Center is open for business. Our office modernization gave our call center the ability to safely work from home during the pandemic. The safety of our employees and our callers has been a priority, as we approach important business reporting deadlines at the end of this month.
We haven’t missed a beat and stand prepared to serve all voters, candidates, businesses and officials during these difficult times.