- The American Conservative - https://www.theamericanconservative.com -

Death of the West Virginia Democrat

If you didn’t already have enough reasons to find last week’s election results dispiriting, here’s another one to chew on. The wiping out [1] of the Democratic Party in West Virginia appears near-complete—a rather momentous development, though perhaps for not-obvious reasons. Yes, this was a long time coming, and that the Democrats would incur major losses in 2014 was not at all unexpected. Still, the scale of the decimation was staggering. (Natalie Tennant, a white, coal-supporting Democratic Senate candidate, somehow underperformed compared to Obama in 2012. She lost by 27.6 percent)

West Virginia was long home to an idiosyncratic, difficult-to-comprehend ethos that for decades (centuries?) had been somewhat insulated from the transitory, cyclical trends of national politics. Whereas, say, Pennsylvania or Missouri had always been taken as “bellwethers” of sorts, West Virginia perennially marched to the beat of its own drum. The state elected Democrats, and only Democrats, for something like 60 years. Sen. Robert Carlyle Byrd’s name is famously plastered everywhere you look there, because West Virginia sorely needed pork (i.e., infrastructure projects), and Byrd was darn good at bringing home the pork.

But Byrd is dead now. Jay Rockefeller, another legacy Democrat, retired. No one has emerged to carry on the West Virginia populist Democrat mantle; Sen. Joe Manchin, the only remaining Democrat of real repute (perhaps other than Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin), falters in this arena. Unlike Byrd—who spoke out voraciously [2] against the Iraq War, for instance—Manchin doesn’t give the impression of taking populism very seriously. His idea of channelling populist discontent is to position himself as some kind of ill-defined “centrist” with no core convictions other than ostensible “moderation.” (Manchin had been a member of David Frum’s “No Labels” group until quitting last week [3].) Say what you will about Byrd, but at least he had a relatively discernible political ideology.

“Can you believe that, in anyone’s imagination, they thought that would ever happen in West Virginia?” Manchin said Wednesday [4]. “But things change.”

Advertisement

Well, yes, “things change,” but things also happen because certain actors consciously effect change. The rout of Democrats in West Virginia didn’t have to happen, it was allowed to happen by a combination of fecklessness, poor strategy, and concerted GOP messaging that has successfully “nationalized” politics all over the U.S. Indeed, that was the stated goal of conservative operatives this cycle—to “nationalize” contested races such that they became less about local concerns, i.e., how to best serve the constituents of a particular polity, and instead morphed into nebulous referenda on Obama. (Here’s a video [5] of legendary GOP marketing guru Richard Viguerie explaining how all this went down.)

It’s not simply that Democrats lost and Republicans won. One might imagine a West Virginia political culture that retained its idiosyncrasies and simply elected Republicans instead (after all, West Virginian Democrats tended to be quite culturally conservative.) But I don’t think that is what’s happening here. The incentives presently at work in the American system are truly “nationalizing” politics and thereby negating regional distinctions.

Why the heck should a citizen in Greenbrier County, West Virginia vote for a House member on the basis of aversion to Obama? That calculus makes little sense in terms of his or her own self-interest. However, such a calculus most certainly serves the interests of GOP consultants, who worked diligently and craftily this cycle to “frame the narrative” in a way that would enable them to seize power, and therefore money and influence.

Nick Rahall, a 19-term House incumbent, was ousted [6] last week, even after surviving in 2010, which was widely assumed to have been the absolute low-point for Democrats. (Rahall actually won fairly easily that cycle—by 12 percent. What exactly happened in the ensuing four years? Certainly Obama was unpopular in West Virginia then as well. I don’t know the answer.) Because of his seniority, Rahall was positioned to provide needed resources to his constituents in that very inscrutable area (even relative to other parts of West Virginia) that few understand.

change_me

Now, instead of this seasoned Congressman who had held office since 1977, a novice GOP state senator will be representing the district. Is that really going to benefit the Greenbrier Valley? Is that really going to help preserve a very peculiar political culture, which ought to be celebrated in a country that supposedly prizes diversity? Seems doubtful.

And this is all merely on the federal level. Republicans also captured total control [7] of the West Virginia state legislature (including the House of Delegates for the first time in eight decades) on the strength of such candidates as a 17-year-old girl [8] who campaigned on cutting business taxes. (She’s now 18.)

The 2014 elections may have been a sweeping victory for the GOP, but they were a stinging defeat for localism.

Michael Tracey is a journalist based in New York City.

Follow @mtracey [9]

40 Comments (Open | Close)

40 Comments To "Death of the West Virginia Democrat"

#1 Comment By Mario On November 14, 2014 @ 12:20 am

And what does some New York City journalist know about West Virginia? Did this writer lament the downfall of the Rockefeller Republican? Rahall apparently was busted for supporting the president on climate legislation before doing an about-face when it leaked out. West Virginia isn’t the only example, politics has pretty much been nationalized everywhere.

#2 Comment By Robert On November 14, 2014 @ 4:19 am

I grew up in the Greenbrier Valley, and I too am perplexed by what just happened. I don’t think most people there even understand what they just did to themselves. For instance, my mother-in-law was on Facebook in the aftermath of the election bragging about how they’d voted out “Nick Joe.” When I pointed out to her that it was one of “Nick Joe’s” staff members who helped her with the VA paperwork necessary to get a handicap accessible shower installed in her father’s bathroom, she didn’t seem to think this was at all relevant.

Another thing no one seems to be mentioning is the amount of outside money that poured into WV this cycle. A guy I went to college with is a Republican party operative in WV, and he told me that they had so much outside money that they really didn’t know what to do with it all. He also said he was worried about what this meant for the future of the political process in the state. His main concern being that going forward only the wealthy would be able to run competitive campaigns.

#3 Comment By Hibernian On November 14, 2014 @ 4:20 am

@ Michael Tracey: “Why the heck should a citizen in Greenbrier County, West Virginia vote for a House member on the basis of aversion to Obama? ” – Maybe because POTUS is dead set on destroying the coal industry, and POTUS and St. Nancy do not allow dissent by Democrats in the House. It is the Left which has nationalized politics. And West Virginia is not Mississippi. They had a lot of Republicans in the 1920s and 1950s, when Mississippi had none or almost none. It’s a legacy of their stand on the Union side in the Civil War, which in fact was the reason for their existence as a separate state to begin with. They elected Arch Moore, Shelley Moore Capito’s dad, as Governor in the 1980s. That should have been mentioned as a counterpoint to the lack of a Republican Senator since the 502.

#4 Comment By Hibernian On November 14, 2014 @ 4:32 am

Sorry, “502” should be “50s.”

#5 Comment By Simon94022 On November 14, 2014 @ 6:42 am

This may be the most preposterous article I have ever read on this site. There are plenty of reasons to dislike GOP political consultants, but blaming the for destroying West Virginia’s “localist” political culture is not one of them.

American politics have been steadily sorting out into a “left” and a “right” party since the 1930s. FDR discussed with Wendell Wilkie his ambition to build a national liberal party by winning over northeastern Republicans and jettisoning the Southern Democrats (not because of racism, but because of their opposition to the New Deal and his liberal internationalist foreign policy).

This is the secular trend in American politics for more than half a century. It was not started by Republicans, and it isn’t unique to West Virginia.

And Robert Byrd was a Ku Klux Klansman who evolved into a crude rent seeking politician. If that is the fruit of “localism” we can do without it.

#6 Comment By Captain P On November 14, 2014 @ 9:15 am

If West Virginia’s Democratic senators and congressional delegates had proven themselves to be anything other than minions for Obama and Pelosi I’d be more likely to feel sadness. They “nationalized” themselves by becoming indistinguishable from Democrats from, say, Maryland or Minnesota.

#7 Comment By Derek Leaberry On November 14, 2014 @ 9:16 am

West Virginia is also becoming a refuge of homeschoolers, Latin Mass Catholics and others who wish to live off-grid. The state is rural and the land is cheap. A fairly large sized farm can be had for $ 150,000.

#8 Comment By James M On November 14, 2014 @ 10:23 am

The U.S. House of Representatives is meant to be a national legislature. This article is perplexing to me for the author’s apparent misunderstanding of the purpose of the lower chamber. The federal government was supposed to be a place not where individual congressmen jockeyed for money for their district. Localized politics is good for state issues, but it seems destructive in national politics. The only concern of national representatives is whether or not they are fairly representing their constiuents in Congress. 9 days after te election it’s unfair to say they don’t.

#9 Comment By B On November 14, 2014 @ 10:31 am

I’m not a huge fan of the national Republican Party, but honestly it is ridiculous to blame them for what happened to West Virginia Democrats. Obama single-handily destroyed the West Virginia Democratic Party by pushing a national agenda that was contrary to the culture of West Virginia.

And Democrats in West Virginia did nothing to distance themselves from it, other than meeley-mouthed portrayals of “moderation” by Joe Manchin.

#10 Comment By simon94022 On November 14, 2014 @ 11:00 am

Partisan politics are nationalized for two reasons:

1. The Federal Government has far more impact on the lives of voters than it did 60, 75 or 100 years ago.

2. The old machine/boss/patronage party system has been hollowed out. So BOTH parties are dependent on a fairly small number of major financial donors and bundlers. The donors are motivated either by one special issue or by political philosophy. Most donors are not local and are not interested in local issues. But a congressional or Senate candidate cannot run a viable campaign in a mass media age without their funding.

That is the big picture problem with U.S. politics, one that has been emerging for decades. To blame it on “concerted GOP messaging” by “conservative operatives” is partisan nonsense.

#11 Comment By Chris in Appalachia On November 14, 2014 @ 12:02 pm

“Now, instead of this seasoned Congressman who had held office since 1977, a novice GOP state senator will be representing the district.”

So what is the problem with voting out the incumbent? Tell me again why you want to keep voting in the incumbent? Is it because you are so thrilled with the direction of the country? Give me a break. Although, due to the perversion of the so-called two party in this nation, this particular “novice” won’t make much difference. But where has all of that incumbent experience benefitted most congressional districts in America? Should we prostitute ourselves for pork barrel spending, or throw the bums out?

West Virginia’s democrat party was strengthened by the United Mine Workers union and, in the Panhandle, the United Steelworkers Union. Now those elements are a mere shadow of what they used to be. That’s part of the answer.

But I have never seen so much junk mail and robo-calls in my life as this last WV election, and we all can see the money pouring in from the mega donors in this post-Citizens United world. And the money obviously filtered down to the local levels, because we had state delegates claiming that they would “stand up to the Obama agenda.” For real? You’re a local, state delegate, and you’re standing up to Obama? Give me a break. And men in the barber shop worrying about ISIS. Why do they care? ISIS ain’t coming to WV, but they have been brainwashed by the McCain/Rove/Fox machine to believe that it is also their issue.

So this article does have some valid points, but Northeastern chastising of simpleton hillbilly West Virginians for voting out an incumbent isn’t one of them.

#12 Comment By Ron On November 14, 2014 @ 12:13 pm

Some valid points, but W.Virginia has simply rejected post New Deal liberalism and the cultural Marxism that came with it. I’m sure the newbies will learn how to milk the federal cow regardless of party affiliation.

#13 Comment By EngineerScotty On November 14, 2014 @ 12:20 pm

Two obvious reasons:

1) Obama. West Virginia is one of several states, in a belt stretching from western Maryland and Pennsylvania, to Arkansas and Missouri, that has traditionally been Democratic and pro-labor ( and not given to the fundamentalist moralizing of the Bible Belt), that loathes the President. Race may be part of it, culture as well.

2) Energy. West Virginia is a coal-producing state. The GOP supports unfettered pollution and burning of hydrocarbons, the Democrats not so much.

Hillary, who has long been popular in this part of the country, may reverse 1, though I don’t see her doing much about 2.

Some serious economic populism, rather than lip service, might help as well…

#14 Comment By Nick On November 14, 2014 @ 1:07 pm

What, exactly, is this unique political culture in West Virginia Tracey is lamenting. He never really describes it. Unless it is a unique ability to have the rest of the country subsidize West Virginia’s existence. That is something its members of Congress have been uniquely successful in doing.

#15 Comment By isaacplautus On November 14, 2014 @ 2:35 pm

“When I pointed out to her that it was one of “Nick Joe’s” staff members who helped her with the VA paperwork necessary to get a handicap accessible shower installed in her father’s bathroom, she didn’t seem to think this was at all relevant.”

Cognitive Dissonance at its finest. What will be interesting to see is whether the newly elected Republican will be able to keep the same level of services coming.

#16 Comment By Krafty Wurker On November 14, 2014 @ 4:44 pm

Rahill, who by the way is Syrian/Lebanese, was an early supporter of ISIS a/k/a Free Syrian Army against Assad. Rahill even lost the Syrian vote, as it is in WV, on that one.

#17 Comment By John On November 14, 2014 @ 5:05 pm

West Virginia was a Democratic state because organized labor’s position came before other concerns in the currently very Republican south and west of the state. Since mining is increasingly mechanized and the UMW increasingly unable to deliver steady work at good pay for its dwindling membership (over 120,000 miners in 1940 and maybe 25,000 today), there is no countervailing force against the outside money mentioned above.

The EPA could give out all the permits the operators could want and forget that the Clean Air Act pertains to power plant emissions, and it still wouldn’t matter. They’re blasting off mountaintops and scooping out what’s there in a matter of months, not years. The great old seams are played out at any level of recovery that makes economic sense today, no matter what the environmental regulations are. Coal mining is dying, and to get another ten years of dangerous, underpaid work for 20,000 of West Virginia’s 1.3 million citizens, we’re willing to destroy every asset the state will have left when the mine operators move on. Why? Well, we are redneck and racist, but like any failed business we hope to get by doing what we’ve always done, with more focus and dedication than before – we are terrified of a future where we have nothing to entice extraction companies and chemical refining companies into giving our people work.

#18 Comment By Noah172 On November 14, 2014 @ 5:19 pm

This article could have also mentioned the loss of John Barrow of Georgia, the last white Democrat from the cotton belt. He is Congress’ most moderate Democrat, and perhaps the most independent member of either party (Walter Jones being the closest rival for that distinction): strong restrictionist on immigration, protectionist on trade, good on bringing money for local investment, against the Wall Street bailout, voted no on the PPACA in 2010 but also against repeal, a real localist. Now his district has some generic Republican “job-creator” cookie-cutter.

#19 Comment By Kevin O’Keeffe On November 14, 2014 @ 5:42 pm

“And Robert Byrd was a Ku Klux Klansman who evolved into a crude rent seeking politician. If that is the fruit of “localism” we can do without it.”

Robert Byrd was a great man, irrespective of any distasteful associations he may have had in the past. You don’t just get to pronounce “Kluxer,” and wave away a lifetime of achievement, like we were all a bunch of “progressive” feebs.

#20 Comment By RP_McMurphy On November 14, 2014 @ 7:11 pm

@ Mario:

“[Nick] Rahall apparently was busted for supporting the president on climate legislation before doing an about-face when it leaked out.”

If that’s truly the case, it was a shockingly stupid move for a 19-term incumbent. Even if Rahall sees the wisdom of carbon reduction, he could’ve fought the proposal secure in the knowledge that cheap natural gas and the regulatory power the president enjoys via the Clean Air Act would’ve achieved that aim without any legislative assent.

#21 Comment By LEB On November 14, 2014 @ 11:22 pm

“Why the heck should a citizen in Greenbrier County, West Virginia vote for a House member on the basis of aversion to Obama?”
Seriously? This is a mystery?

#22 Comment By Glaivester On November 15, 2014 @ 12:50 am

I feel sorry for Rahall and for Georgia’s John Barrow, two fine blue dogs.

But the fact of the matter is, the entire Democratic Party in the Senate voted for an amnesty/immigration surge bill that was packed with as much evil as the open borders crowd could put in it while lying their rear ends off about what it was.

Only 9 Democrats in Congress refused to sign on to the House version of the bill, and 5 of those were because it did not go far enough.

Hibernian has it right. If the Democrats do not thoroughly repudiate Obama, they will very soon be seen as the anti-American party, which can only be re-elected by importing enough ringers to turn this country into anti-America.

#23 Comment By KFS On November 15, 2014 @ 1:18 am

Obama-Holder-media race baiting to bring out black votes probably had something to do with it, i.e., provoking backlash. Even in the ruralist parts of West Virginia, they couldn’t avoid “Ferguson” going on for 3 months.

#24 Comment By RP_McMurphy On November 15, 2014 @ 1:50 am

“Well, yes, “things change,” but things also happen because certain actors consciously effect change. The rout of Democrats in West Virginia didn’t have to happen, it was allowed to happen by a combination of fecklessness, poor strategy, and concerted GOP messaging that has successfully “nationalized” politics all over the U.S.”

While the nationalization of American politics and the submergence of regional differences probably stems, in large part, from the GOP’s (successful) effort to convert the South (h/t Nixon, Reagan, and Newt Gingrich), it’s a trend that’s been exacerbated by both parties over multiple election cycles.

In the eleven presidential elections that took place between 1948 and 1988, two states supported the Democratic nominee in at least eight: West Virginia and Minnesota — my homestate. Minnesota offers an interesting contrast in that, like West Virginia, it’s overwhelmingly white, but its political trajectory, nonetheless, has diverged sharply. As recently as 2009, Minnesota had a Republican governor and senator, and it had been 18 years since a Democrat had occupied the former post. Two Tuesdays ago, one of the least eloquent politicians in the country, an unreconstructed liberal who created a 9.85% top marginal tax bracket, entrenched the power of labor unions, stiffened environmental protections, legalized gay marriage and medical marijuana, and extended in-state tuition rates to undocumented immigrants was comfortably returned to the governor’s mansion. Joining him in the winner’s circle was the entire DFL (Democratic) statewide slate, including Al Franken, who prevailed by double-digits, as well as every Democrat in the state’s congressional delegation, three of whom represent districts among the 10 least densely-populated currently held by the party. When 2016 rolls around, it’ll have been a decade since a Republican won a statewide race in Minnesota.

What explains the divergence between Minnesota and West Virginia — or Wisconsin, for that matter? I think demographic trends and economic conditions are largely responsible. Basically, in places where the white working class is beset by socioeconomic disintegration, environmental regulations, union wages, gay marriage, immigration liberalization, and subsidized healthcare are seen as extravagant, if not positively threatening (accurate or not). Understandably, those barely staying afloat have little interest in funding reductions in environmental mercury, union pensions, or the college tuition of undocumented immigrants. Democrats in West Virginia may not favor such an agenda, but the national party does, and separating themselves from the national agenda is no easier for West Virginia Democrats than it is for Minnesota Republicans.

Consequently, contrary to the author’s contention, this electoral outcome strikes me as inevitable. Just as formerly Republican-leaning states with burgeoning minority populations are turning blue (Virginia, Colorado, Nevada), former blue and purple states with lots of white voters and low levels of college attainment are turning red (West Virginia, Arkansas, Missouri).

#25 Comment By Ryan Girdusky On November 15, 2014 @ 2:02 am

@MichaelTracey, the one thing that did change was not so much West Virginia as it was the Democrat Party. It was often the case the a West Virginia Democrat would be more of a Bill Clinton Democrat than a Barack Obama Democrat. But where did that Democrat populist mentality go?

Republicans didn’t take it away, Democrats abandoned it. Why did Rockefeller or Manchin vote against the Gang of 8 Immigration Bill? How does that serve West Virginia?

The Party changed more than the culture.

#26 Comment By RP_McMurphy On November 15, 2014 @ 2:19 am

@ Simon94022:

“FDR discussed with Wendell Wilkie his ambition to build a national liberal party by winning over northeastern Republicans and jettisoning the Southern Democrats (not because of racism, but because of their opposition to the New Deal and his liberal internationalist foreign policy).”

The New Deal, sure. But liberal internationalism? If it’s synonymous with interventionism, isn’t opposition more characteristic of the Midwest — say, the states carried by Wilkie and Dewey — than the South? Every Southern senator, save one, voted in favor of the Iraq War resolution. In contrast, seven of the 23 dissenting votes were from the Midwest, including the only one cast by a senator facing reelection. If historical understanding is lacking, things sure have changed.

#27 Comment By Mike W. On November 15, 2014 @ 8:29 am

When the Democrat southern moderates chose to go lockstep with the national party that foretold their doom. Perhaps if Harry Reid had simply allowed more votes those moderates would have had the opportunity to stand against Obama but when Hagan and Landrieu and others have a 100 percent voting record on the side of this president they are going to pay. Manchin, even though is trying to play both sides, will also discover this in 2016.

#28 Comment By Hibernian On November 15, 2014 @ 12:30 pm

@ Robert – Republican staffers have been known to provide this type of service, even those of Ron Paul. When you’re in with those who are trying to outlaw the state’s main industry, being a Democratic incumbent with a lot of seniority, especially as you’ve just completed your fourth consecutive year of minority status in the House, isn’t much compensation.

@ Derek Leaberry

Some Catholics, like me, are fine with both the English and the Latin Mass. How do you define “Latin Mass Catholics?”

#29 Comment By B Larr On November 15, 2014 @ 4:52 pm

Being from West Virginia, I find it amazing that the author of this article bases his concern trolling on three assumptions:

1. Assumption #1: “Economic interest” = “Access to Pork Barrel Spending”
2. Assumption #2: West Virginians who do not vote for this form of “economic interest” are ignorant pawns of GOP marketing.
3. It is stupid and misguided to connect national concerns with local politics.

In response to the three assumptions of the author:

Our failing health care system (defined not only by ObamaCare, but other misguided policies) is more important than pork barrel. Energy policy is more important than pork barrel. Thus, the election becomes nationalized.

Does the author think that energy policy and health care policy should only be considered more important than pork barrel if the voters favor Democratic policies on health care and energy? This is nothing more than a mirror image of Democrats’ insistence that we “get beyond” social issues–but only if voters agree with Republicans on social issues.

#30 Comment By Ben Johnson On November 15, 2014 @ 8:37 pm

“The state elected Democrats, and only Democrats, for something like 60 years.”

Yes and no. Cecil Underwood and Arch Moore served five terms as governor between them since 1956. W. Chapman Revercomb served twice in the U.S. Senate before the era of Robert Byrd and Jennings Randolph. The House delegations were an even more mixed bag, with at least one Republican serving much of the time.

No one should be surprised that an increasingly red state went full Republican in a wave election. I suspect the Democratic Party of WV will survive.

#31 Comment By balconesfault On November 16, 2014 @ 2:24 pm

I have a feeling that the state won’t be quite as Red when there’s no longer a black guy leading the Democratic Party.

#32 Comment By sam On November 16, 2014 @ 4:34 pm

The article fails to mention West Virginia’s 2nd Congressional district race where a centrist pro-life, pro-coal Democrat, Nick Casey, a 3rd generation West Virginian, lost to a Tea Party candidate, Alex Mooney, a former Maryland state senator who moved to West Virginia one year before the election. Mooney ran

#33 Comment By Sean Scallon On November 17, 2014 @ 2:03 am

I know there will be those who will celebrate the “nationalization” of politics and the destruction of distinct regional party brands. This is a trend that has begun since World War II and it’s not an accident. A because becomes more nationalized and so does its politics.

However, what those who have wanted realignment have done is create a Parlimentary system without a Parliament. The Founding Fathers not only did not anticipate political parties they certainly did not anticipate parties that would essentially stand for two competing ideologies in lock-step competition with each other.

The system worked because of these regional differences. You could work with someone “across the aisle” because the regional peculiarities existed (as did non-major parties based locally and regionally). Get rid of them and essentially you create the gridlock that brings government and policy to a halt. And essentially its un-American. American political parties balanced different competing interests as well as ideologies against each other. They were never designed to be European-style parties based largely on ideology.

Not only that, we’ve created a two-party system in the South based which essentially is a one-party system. And in some places, there’s hardly any party competition at all. This is not a new feature in U.S. politics but still is a damaging one in a system the rest upon a foundation of representative government.

#34 Comment By Derek Leaberry On November 17, 2014 @ 9:02 am

Things change in politics all the time. A century ago, Vermont and Massachusetts were the most Republican states in the union. Not any more. South Carolina did not elect its first Republican until the 60s. Now it is firmly in the Republican column.

#35 Comment By Noah172 On November 17, 2014 @ 12:09 pm

EngineerScotty,

If personal/racial animus toward Obama explains West Virginia’s rejection of the Democrats, how do you explain the state voting for Bush over Gore and Kerry?

#36 Comment By Noah172 On November 17, 2014 @ 12:24 pm

I am cautiously hopeful about California’s new system in elections, with the all-candidate primary and the top two finishers, regardless of party, competing in November. In one-party districts, which is most of California, there may be two general election candidates of the same dominant party, but the incentive is there for at least one of them to appeal to independents and supporters of the minority party. Other states should experiment with electoral reform. I myself favor second-choice, instant-runoff ballots, and non-partisan ballots for municipal elections.

#37 Comment By NC Law On November 17, 2014 @ 1:18 pm

@Mike – When the “Democrat southern moderates” chose to vote with Obama, they showed that they were no longer moderates, only Democrats.

#38 Comment By Jesse’s girl On November 19, 2014 @ 10:40 am

I was puzzled by the comments of the author until I saw that he was from NYC. The one thing he got right was his assessment of Joe Manchin. Spot on.

For years I have felt that the Democrat/union stranglehold on WV goes back to the “company store” of the lumber and then coal industries. The people were ingrained with the notion that “someone takes care of you.” The unions took over that role and then FDR’s New Deal cemented it: “the government along with the unions take care of you.” The voters are finally coming out of that trance.

#39 Comment By Drew Pritt On December 16, 2014 @ 1:35 pm

The West Virginia Democratic Party died in 1996, when Gaston Caperton, Joe Manchin III, and Lloyd Jackson either actively worked against or endorsed Cecil Underwood, a perennial candidate who had lost multiple bids and against the Democratic nominee, State Senator Charlotte Pritt, yes my cousin. They attacked her for being too liberal but it’s because she was a populist and pro-labor and threatened their stranglehold on the state.

#40 Comment By Frank in WV On December 27, 2014 @ 4:39 pm

So..let me get this straight…

West Virginians have suddenly become aware of,what happens nationally, affects us locally..I agree with that…

But Mr. Tracy seems to think we should only be concerned with what happens up the creeks and hollers locally…

yeah…..right…

Welcome to the digital age Mr. Tracy…