Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Will Manchin Play the Clinton Card?

We all know that Obama’s approval rating is somewhere near 27%, both nationally and here in West Virginia. But we didn’t need to poll to find that out. At the late Senator Byrd’s service, Obama got some shouts and claps, but no elected official could trump the excitement felt by the crowd for none other than former President Bill Clinton.

Bill Clinton is no stranger to West Virginia, he’s spoken at the Jefferson Jackson Dinner, at a recent West Virginia University graduation, he campaigned here for his wife, and least we should forget, he carried West Virginia in the 1992 and 1996 presidential races. His campaigns and his charisma have charmed wild, wonderful West Virginians for 18 years, and based on the cheering from his most recent visit, this trend won’t be reversed any time soon.

While Obama has been flying across the county campaigning for Democrats, I feel it’s “The Comeback Kid” who Manchin should call in for backup support.

Why do I feel that way? I grew up in a Clinton household. During the time “The Great Empathizer” was in office, America was happy (at least that’s how I remember it). All my friends and I grew up pretty much in peace and prosperity, then... (start musical interlude of Jaws theme) ...came Bush.

Bill Clinton not only appeals to the WW II Generation, he also appeals to Baby Boomers, and to me, a Gen Y’er. There’s something nostalgic about the Clinton years, and it’s perhaps that feeling which caused me to cast my vote for Hilary Clinton for President just two short years ago. While Obama’s campaign efforts were unsustainably remarkable, I wasn’t a fan. I was a Hilary girl, (and still am).

I digress... In the most recent Gallup poll, former President Clinton trumps Obama. Maybe the reason Clinton’s approval is much higher than Obama’s is because America itself shares in my nostalgia of life almost 20 years ago. And I know he made a mistake or two, but we’re all human. Somehow, to me, Bill Clinton embodies the goodness of Americanism. And it’s this proud passion for patriotism that America, and West Virginia, seem to be running low on right now.

I know one man can’t move mountains, but maybe Clinton could move more West Virginians in favor of Manchin.

The Politics Behind Polling

Polling has quite a history of miscalculations. One major upset took place in 1948, when the top three pollsters, Gallup, Archibald Crossley, and Elmo Roper, all predicted that Thomas Dewey would be elected United States President. They didn’t fathom that opinions would change, so polling came to a standstill a few weeks prior to the election . Wrong move. Harry Truman came out on top, winning by just 4% over Dewey.

Another polling “drama” occurred when Orion Strategies released results placing current Congressional candidate Mike Oliverio ahead of Rep. Alan Mollohan. The owner of Orion Strategies is Curtis Wilkerson, Oliverio’s campaign manager. For more information on that story, click here:

Overall, America has witnessed a proliferation of polling, but can polling results be trusted? It all depends on who does the polling.

Yesterday, Rasmussen Reports released West Virginia Senate race polling results that placed John Raese just 6 points behind Governor Joe Manchin. But just how accurate are these results?

Scott Rasmussen, the founder of Rasmussen Reports, previously worked for George W. Bush during his 2004 presidential campaign. That being said, the majority of polling conducted by his company is thought to lean to the right. So should West Virginia Democrats be alarmed? I’d say no.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Wild, Wonderful West Virginia with a Woman Governor

“Women are not single-issue voters. Women, like me, have a wide variety of views. ...all of us are worried about our children’s futures,” stated Carly Fiorina.

Females continue climbing the political ladder in the United States, and right here at home. We’ve had two females in the Secretary of State’s Office, Natalie Tennant (@NatalieTennant) and Betty Ireland (@bettyireland). Carrie Webster (@judgewebster) as the first female to serve as the House of Delegates Judiciary Chair. And that’s not even the beginning!

But one thing we haven’t seen is a female governor. When Charlotte Pritt ran in 1996, I distinctly remember my Mom saying on the way home from voting, “Well, win or lose I voted for the first female governor.”

Now, 14 years later, the possibility looks better than ever. R.L. Repass and Partners recently conducted polling and the results show that the two top contenders for West Virginia Governor are women! Natalie Tennant is 3 points shy of Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (@Capito4Congress), but neither have declared their intentions to run.

Another female being mentioned in the 2012 fight to keep the White House is Hilary Clinton

as Vice President.

Whatever the outcome, one thing is crystal clear, the glass ceiling is without a doubt breaking in the world of politics.

Delegate Tim Miley and 4-Square

I just had to comment about how Tim Miley (@WVInjuryLawyer) has been tweeting more and more in the past few weeks. He’s even using 4-Square! Not only is he using it for his business, he’s promoting restaurants!

I personally feel 4-Square is a great tool for politicians, and more need to use it! If you’re on the campaign trail and want to stop for a bite to eat, you 4-Square where you are, and ask constituents in the area to come join you for coffee or a piece of pie. I just bet a younger group of people show up that what you’d expect.

As of the past couple weeks, more West Virginia politicians have been conversing with their tweeps, including @wvhouse members Jonathan Miller (@DelegateJMiller) and Bob Beach (@WVDelegate). Keep it up!!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Excuse me, Mr. Bruner, it’s “Teflon Joe” Not “No-Show Joe”

In Phil Kabler’s column in today’s Charleston Gazette (@wvgazette) one GOP (@WVGOP) hopeful (very, very hopeful), calls out United States Senate candidate Joe Manchin (@JoeManchinWV) for not participating the in the August 19th debate in Charles Town.

Ken Hechler, one of Manchin’s opponents in this Saturday’s very special Primary joined Bruner in the call for Manchin to debate.

Several candidates and constituents are shocked at just how little campaigning Joe Manchin has done, but there are a few things I should point out: his website is finally up, it appears he’s had some professional photography shot, and I’ve received almost three times as many Google Alerts for him than ever before. But there must be a method to this madness. After all, he’s called “Teflon Joe” for a reason.

During one gubernatorial primary, it seemed he was the easiest candidate to beat. But Manchin proved that speculation wrong, becoming West Virginia’s own “Come Back Kid.”

Also, did we stop to think that maybe he’s not heavy on the campaign trail for a reason? After all, he is our Governor. Campaigning takes so much time, so much energy, and the campaign itself takes over your life until the election. But the people of West Virginia elected Manchin to be our Governor. Even though he contradicted himself by saying he would fulfill this term as such, it could potentially be even more devastating if all Manchin did was campaign and neglect the job we elected him to do in the first place.

It’ll be interesting to see how he campaigns after the Primary that’s only four short days away.

Read Phil Kabler’s full story in the Charleston Gazette:

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Unmasking the Issues Behind Un-mosque-ing

“The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today." Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Politicians from the left, right, and the center are opposing the location of a mosque at Ground Zero. And, while I understand the significance of the religion and the location involved, I can’t help but wonder what lesson this teaches our children.

When I was growing up, we learned all about discrimination, segregation, the Civil Rights Movement, and how we, as Americans, have moved forward. I was always taught we are all Americans, regardless of what we look like on the outside or where (and what) we worship. But that’s not the lesson children across the nation are learning from the representatives their parents elected to lead our nation.

According to an article by Caitlin Huey in U.S. News, “The First Amendment protects freedom of religion," said Reid's spokesman in a statement. "Senator Reid respects that but thinks that the mosque should be built someplace else." Reid is the highest ranking Democrat in the Senate and faces a close and contentious reelection bid against Tea Party favorite Sharron Angle in Nevada.” Full article:

While I understand the reasoning behind the stance politicians across the United States are taking, does this not teach our children discrimination? Also, is it fair to blame an entire religion for something a couple of extremists did? What happened to America being “the land of the free and the home of the brave?”

It takes courage, faith in others, and bravery to build trust and move forward. In my opinion, we need to work together with all Americans in order to combat terrorism, not alienate a certain religion or ethnicity. There is strength in numbers, but we won’t have that strength if we continue dividing Americans against Americans.

Monday, August 16, 2010

WV’s First Political Twitter Discussion: @Kenwardjr @DelegateJMiller @bitmapped

Late this morning, Charleston Gazette (@wvgazette) Reporter Ken Ward (@Kenwardjr) and House of Delegates member Jonathan Miller (@DelegateJMiller) had a discussion on Twitter over cap and trade, carbon capture, and carbon dioxide. Brian Powell (@bitmapped) also joined the conversation.(Too bad it didn’t have a hashtag associated with it.)

This is the second major instance in West Virginia social media history that a reporter has opened a discussion with a politician through a social media vehicle. The first occurred with Mannix Porterfield asked House of Delegates (@wvhouse) Speaker Thompson (@RT4WV) a question on his Facebook Fan Page.

Conversations and debates, like the one between Ward and Miller, via new media vehicles allow for open discussion and promote interest in government because everyone can be involved. This increases governmental transparency and let’s voters actually discuss issues with those running for office.

A scary thought for all elected officials, or anyone who refuses to answer reporter or constituent questions? If you don’t respond, you could always get tweet-bombed. Although you would have to actually check your twitter account, which one politician in this state doesn’t seem to do.

Quit blaming and complaining!

After reading The New York Times, the Sunday Gazette-Mail, and several online articles about politics and the 2010 General Election yesterday, I’ve come to the conclusion that most just like to blame this or that administration for the way things are today and complain about everything they don’t have because of this or that politician. Well, I’m over it.

Wouldn’t life be easy if all we did was complain and not take responsibility for anything?

What would happen if we actually got off our butts and took a proactive approach to what we complain about?

The blame game is easy, it’s strategizing solutions that’s the hard part. After all, if it was easy, anyone could do it. Campaigns where politicians lay out clear, concise goals toward fixing problems and responding to issues are much more appealing and believable than those that just place blame and have no real substance. Now, if that person were to get elected and not fulfill the very ideas and solutions that got them elected, then that’s a problem.

But overall, I’m tired of campaigns and parties blaming each other. If all we do is blame and complain, who will figure out the solutions needed to move this nation forward?

Friday, August 13, 2010

Life After Manchin Moves Out of the Mansion

The man Larry Sabato called an “obvious assumption” will most likely be responding to “Senator Manchin” rather than “Governor” in a few months time, (Daily Mail article by Ry Rivard :

Let’s take a moment to briefly reflect on the time Joe Manchin III spent as our 34th Governor. We saw worker’s compensation reformed with the creation of Brick Street. The Governor’s Mansion was renovated. Over $12 billion dollars worth of investments in the business sector occurred in the state. Phil Kabler wasn’t invited to the Christmas party. Our budget was well-managed and our overall debt decreased. Manchin’s been the best cheerleader and sales person for wild, wonderful West Virginia. We were able to host part of the PGA tour. The Governor’s Mansion received an addition: a white party tent. Phil Kabler never got to sit under that tent.

Phil, maybe there’s hope, because most likely Manchin will be elected on November 2nd, becoming West Virginia’s freshman United States Senator. And in 2011, we’ll have to elect a new governor. But what will life be like without Manchin in the Mansion? I guess it depends on who moves in....

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

We Need Governmental Transparency, Now More Than Ever

"Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government." -President Obama, 1/21/09

After reading today's Charleston Gazette (@wvgazette) article by Kate Long, it is extremely evident that this openness is exactly what West Virginia government is lacking. House of Delegates (@wvhouse) member Nancy Peoples Guthrie (@nguthrie4me), who is the chairwoman of the House stimulus committee, said, "There's no reason for this to be cloaked in secrecy... it's gotten beyond the point where 'trust us' is a sufficient answer." (See full article here:

As an advocate of social media being a connection vehicle for politicians and their constituents, I’m alarmed I just might need to take my stilettos two steps back before taking another step forward. It appears elected officials from different branches of government need to be more social and communicative with each other. Long’s article clearly points out the lack of information sharing from the executive branch to the legislative branch.

“Jim Pitrolo, legislative director for Gov. Joe Manchin, told legislators Wednesday the administration is doing everything it can to assure transparency as it spends $1.05 billion of federal stimulus funds,” (see full article here by Phil Kabler here:

But things haven’t been transparent. “This should not be difficult information to track down. It should be a matter of record,” stated Guthrie. Pitrolo cites that the information is available on the site, but tracking this information down is very difficult, noted members of the House.

While working on one particular client’s campaign this past primary, several figures were request in order to state how much money that client secured for their district. Those numbers, in detail, were not hard to come by. So why is this so difficult? And does the federal government not track how stimulus dollars are spent by states in order to measure if the stimulus money is even effective?

Recently a member of Generation X and I sat down to lunch and had a very inspiring, informative discussion. One of the main outcomes: Gen X and Gen Y, at least in West Virginia, are losing faith in elected officials for reasons just like this. Movements like and Gov 2.0 are making leaps and bounds to increase transparency in government through social mediums and connecting more constituents to elected officials. I whole-heartedly support this effort, but after reading about the secrecy of stimulus spending, we need to open the communication lines between branches of government here in the mountain state.

We younger generations live our lives transparently; you can learn more about a person by their Facebook page than hours of conversation, tell what interests and hobbies someone has by their tweets, share joyous moments on Flickr, and learn someone’s professional history on LinkedIn. Older generations like their space, their privacy, and while I, too, enjoy a quiet moment every now and then, I want to know more about the lives of those who are elected to represent me. What do you do all day at during interims? Why do you oppose this bill? Why did you vote to amend that legislation? What are you eating for lunch? How was your drive Charleston? Why isn’t information on how stimulus money is being spent already out there?

Transparency is a way of life for the majority of us younger folk. Transparency is humanizing. If we don’t instill more transparency between and among our branches of government now, how will younger generations ever have faith in tomorrow’s elected officials?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Will Governor Manchin follow in PA Governor Casey’s footsteps?

With former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge speaking in Charleston today at the National Association of State Auditors, Comptrollers, and Treasures (, story by George Hohmann for @charleywest), I felt it was only appropriate to review some PA political history and how it could relate to the future of one West Virginia politician.

In 1992, PA Governor Robert P. Casey was quite a leading figure for the Democratic Party. He even believed he could be the keynote speaker at that year’s Democratic National Convention. Approximately three weeks prior to the convention, Planned Parenthood sued Governor Casey (Planned Parenthood of Pennsylvania vs. Casey) after he signed a law requiring both a 24-hour waiting period, as well as parental consent, for those under age 18, in order to have an abortion. This law also put a ban on abortions because of gender selection.

Casey planned on delivering a pro-life speech at the 1992 Democratic National Convention, but his plans never came to fruition, as he was denied the opportunity because of his anti-abortion views. A speech like his would have been devastating for the Democratic Party.

So what’s this have to do with a certain West Virginia politician? In an earlier posting, I talked about the strategic possibilities Governor Manchin has to get the bid for Vice President (, but I left out one major fact: He’s pro-life. Almost every Democratic national leader is pro-choice, and the likelihood of Manchin getting the VeePee bid as a pro-lifer is nothing more than a sweet dream.

Although, Al Gore changed his stance from pro-life to pro-choice...

What message is this WV campaign “vehicle” really sending?

While driving to and from Pittsburgh this past weekend, I noticed several politicians are using a rather innovative form of outdoor advertising: tractor trailer banners. Banners with very few words in large print, normally the candidates name and the office or position they’re running for are donning mountain ridges up 1-79. While this form of outdoor advertising is obviously less expensive than outdoor boards, and builds candidate brand name awareness, what message is it subliminally conveying?

I noticed one candidate’s banners were not the same length as the tractor trailer, leaving the dirty, brown edges of the trailer peeking out and actually appearing to frame the banner. While continuing to drive back to Charleston, I couldn’t help but wonder why so many tractor trailers were empty and available for use to bear campaign signs. What did these trailers used to carry across the state, the region, or the nation? Why aren’t they in use now? Or, playing devil’s advocate, do these empty trailers represent hope for a new manufacturing industry in the Mountain State?

While this method might save a few hundred dollars when compared to outdoor boards, what other messages might is this media "vehicle" be delivering to your constituents? Just food for thought.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

WV: To the Moon and To the End of the World Hopefully Not Gaga Style

As Eisenhower’s two terms as United States President came to an end, a new era began in America under President Kennedy. This was the era of possibility, of the unknown, of the great beyond. Back then, would any of us imagined that, according to R.E.M., “...they put a man on the moon?”

President Kennedy set goals for the new decade of 1960. The moon was one of them, and while I must admit (life-saving capabilities aside) those first space suit designers could have been a little more creative (and those moon boots are one pair of shoes you definitely won’t find in my closet), JFK accomplished that goal.

“We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade... not because [it was] easy, but because they [it was] hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win...”

2010 is a new decade, for both America, and most importantly to me, for West Virginia. It seems to me that during elections all we do is poll on current issues that affect us right here and now (and well maybe tomorrow), but we don’t tackle the possible problems my children are going to face living in our beloved mountain state. West Virginia is caught between a rock and a hard place, and I feel idealistic saying it will get better in the near future. While part of my job is to craft a message and strategy that appeals to voters based on the messages with the highest ratings in poll results, not many of these messages necessarily discuss what to do now to ensure my children will have a “rock solid” future in these West Virginia hills, (or flatlands, who knows).

Speaking of rocks, what about coal? Well, I love coal. We need coal. It keeps the lights on, we all know that. And while coal isn’t going anywhere any time soon, I find it interesting that several energy companies which are heavily invested in the coal industry, like Consol and Massey, are diversifying their energy portfolio and investing in energy sources from wind mills to natural gas to solar and beyond. I know it’s a touchy subject, but someone has to ask the tough question of what’s next for West Virginia’s energy industry? We need to look down the road and see what trends and possibilities will exist in 10 years, in 20 years, and even beyond that for energy. From these predictions and forecasts, we can start shaping a strategy for wild, wonderful West Virginia that allows us to obtain a competitive advantage relative to other states in terms of our energy future.

Kennedy once said, “Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.”

As an “unlikely voter,” these are the important issues I want those I vote for to address in more precise terms, just like Kennedy said we would go to the moon. Maybe that’s why I’m considered an “unlikely” voter in the first place, because the future looks like one big Lady Gaga outfit with no fashion police on duty. Or maybe, R.E.M. got it right, since the world is predicted to end on December 21, 2012...

“...It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fiiiiiiine...”

(Although I would tend to disagree.)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Monday Morning Reality Check: Why Most likely Voters Won’t Vote For You

T-minus 26 days until West Virginia holds its Very Special Primary. Candidates are most likely targeting “most likely” voters, meaning West Virginia residents who have voted in the past two midterm elections. They’ve most likely polled and know the issues and messages that work with this group, and that’s what they’re banking on. Good strategy, right? You’re most likely wrong.

“Most likely” voters just may not be the “most likely” people to punch the hole next to your name on the ballot. Why not? What can you, as a candidate, do to improve the quality of life for someone’s grandmother in the nursing home? How much can your efforts improve our statewide and/or national economy that my 87 year-old Grandpa will live to see? Why would my parents vote for you if you’re most likely going to continue increasing our national debt which my generation, and those after me, will be paying off? What proactive approach are you taking to the future of coal and energy in West Virginia so tomorrow’s generations of mountain state residents have good paying jobs?

Reality check: You, most likely, cannot do anything to significantly improve the quality of life for my grandparents, and probably not my parents. Campaigning to them via :60 TV spots is great, sending direct mail to my Uncle Ed is wonderful, my Dad will listen to your radio spot while he’s busy wiring a house, but in the end, you’re missing the number one group you need to be targeting: my generation.

“Have you heard of [Candidate X?] What do you think about him/her?” are the words my Grandpa asks me every election cycle. If I wasn’t so into politics, I wouldn’t know who at least 75% of the candidates running for office are. Why not? Because candidates and campaigns seem to forget that my generation exists. No, we typically don’t vote, but that’s only because you candidates most likely forgot to engage us. How can I know who you are unless you target campaign efforts to where I am most often? And where is that you might ask? Online.

My grandparents and parents are not selfish people, they’re pragmatic, realistic, forward-thinking individuals who are concerned about the well-being of those they will one day leave behind. They want to cast their vote for someone who will strive to build a more solid foundation for my generation and those after mine. So when I don’t know who you are or why you’re running for office, my Grandpa most likely won’t vote for you.

You most likely don’t understand us, and we most likely won’t have the same perspective, the same needs, or even the same values as so-called most likely voters, but believe me, my generation would love to be more involved in local, statewide, and national politics. And we’re getting more involved, with or without you.

According to Ryan White and T.J. Meadows, “Generation Charleston, a group whose mission is to attract and retain young talent in the Charleston area, firmly believes that the involvement of young leaders in politics is integral to the future success of our state and nation. ...Young leaders can and will bring new energy to a political landscape that has become increasingly partisan and can help create an environment of cooperation that seems to be rarer with each issue being discussed,” (read more in @wvgazette:

I thought a certain soon-to-be Senator understood this when he talked about organizing the “Governor’s Council of Young Professionals” in his 2010 State of the State speech, ( It seems older generations of politicians like to talk about involving the youth and setting the stage for a solid tomorrow, but when you don’t take time to ask us what we want, why we want it, and how we would go about getting it, your words will soon fall on deaf ears. And when our grandparents and parents ask us what we think, we “most likely” won’t know you and all three generations will be “most likely” to vote for someone else.