Monday, January 30, 2006

Once Again, the AP Gets the Story Wrong

Many West Virginians will find tucked somewhere in today's newspaper the following AP story: "Incumbents not seeking re-election hamper GOP plan." This could hardly be farther from the truth.

While eight Republican legislators are not seeking reelection to their current offices, almost all of these seats are likely to remain safe seats for the GOP. Indeed, the retirement of one legislator--Senator Charles Lanham, RINO-Mason--actually helped our party's chances of keeping the seat. Delegate Mike Hall, R-Putnam, is among the departing legislators, though he will simply be moving to the Senate to replace Lanham after defeating perennial candidate Jim Lees (D) in November.

Other retiring Republicans include Delegate Otis Leggett, R-Pleasants, who is retiring after 20 years in the House at the age of 86; Minority Leader Charles Trump, R-Morgan; and Delegate Vic Roberts, R-Berkeley, who only served one term. These three districts will all heavily favor the GOP. Delegate Chris Wakim, R-Ohio, is leaving after 2 terms to run for Congress; this district is competitive but the GOP has recruited a quality candidate, Scott Reed, to hold Wakim's seat.

In the Senate, Senators Steve Harrison, R-Kanawha, and Sarah Minear, R-Tucker, are also retiring. Seeking Harrison's seat are 2004 Democratic Congressional nominee and former TV anchor Erik Wells and former WVU football player Mark Plants (R). Both parties have fielded several candidates to replace Minear; I favor former Preston County Surveyor Dave Sypolt (R) to win this seat. Sypolt narrowly lost a 2004 Senate race against Senator Jon Hunter, D-Monongalia, and is already very well-known throughout the district.

I am confident that Republicans will not only retain their current seats in the Legislature, but continue to greatly increase our numbers in both houses. Five years ago, the Democrats enjoyed margins of 28-6 in the Senate and 75-25 in the House of Delegates; today, we have reduced those margins to 21-13 in the Senate and 68-32 in the House. We are now just five seats away from taking control of the state Senate, which has been controlled by the Ruling Party for the last 74 years.

Contrary to the gloom & doom presented by the mainstream media, things are looking well for the GOP in West Virginia.