Monday, May 10, 2010
When John Denver penned those words in his song I am sure he was not referring to the political landscape of West Virginia. On Tuesday May 11th, West Virginia has its primary, and I intend to pay attention to the results. I have met some people from West Virginia, but I have never lived in the state so feel free to correct any errors I make. The West Virginia congressional delegation consists of four Democrats and one Republican. After this November it would be nice to have a West Virginia congressional delegation of three Republicans and two Democrats, and I think that is unlikely to happen.
I would think from previous history that West Virginia is the safest place for an incumbent to run for office of any state in the country. They have Senator Robert Byrd who was first elected in 1958, fifty-two years ago. Next we have Senator Jay Rockefeller who was first elected in 1984, twenty-six years ago. In the third congressional district we have Nick Rahall who was first elected in 1976, thirty-four years ago. In the first congressional district we have Alan Mollohan who was first elected in 1982, twenty-eight years ago. In the second congressional district we have Shelley Moore-Caputo who was first elected in 2000, ten years ago. Shelley is the daughter of Arch Moore, a former three term Governor of West Virginia.
West Virginia reminds me of United Kingdom House of Lords in the appearance of being entitled to a seat by nobility. This entitled mindset has been around for a long time, but the intent of the US Constitution is not to have membership in the Congress as a lifetime career. Every two years each member of the US House, and one-third of the Senate can be voted out of office. Membership in the US Congress is a tour of duty instead of a lifetime career. West Virginia is a very pro-union state for unions like the UMW and the teamsters. I am not so certain that the solidarity is that strong among the rank and file for the unions of the federal employee IRS and ATF agents. The folks in West Virginia do not care much for the authorities in the federal government or in the business community, and they have a Scots-Irish tendency of fighting against "the man". In normal times the UMW leaders suggest the candidate to support, and they go along with it because the issues do not affect them. These are not normal times, and the votes that make premiums for their health insurance go up, and make coal more expensive for power plants to purchase are issues that do directly affect them. The fact that these are not normal times provides some hope that Nick Rahall and Alan Mollohan will be voted out of office in either tomorrow's primary or in November.