Ojeda likely to resign before end of term

January 5, 2019

Rumors from the state Sen. Richard Ojeda camp get stronger that the senator is about to resign.

Ojeda, who won the Senate seat two years ago in an upset of Logan County’s Art Kirkendoll, has appeared to be anxious to quit ever since losing the 3rd District congressional race in November. After two years in the Senate, Ojeda won the Democrat congressional primary and took on Delegate Carol Miller. The Cabell Republican beat him by about 13 points.

Two days later, Ojeda was announcing to the world that he was running for president in 2020.

After a flurry of public appearances, the senator has gone generally quiet. But a new legislative term approaches, and the word has been he wants out of the Legislature. He also showed up for the first time in a while with one of his lengthy videos.

Why is he quitting? Who knows? He apparently somehow thinks it will be helpful to his presidential race to leave the Senate.

Some enemies have speculated that Ojeda knows that former Delegate Rupie Phillips would beat him for re-election and Ojeda can’t stand the embarrassment, so he wants out early.

Whatever the real reason, Ojeda is apparently committed to quitting before finishing his term.

The defeat of longtime Democrat Cabell County Commissioner Bob Bailey by Delegate Kelli Sobonya could open doors for Bailey to run in 2020. Many of the county positions may look attractive when Bailey checks over the playing field. Bailey has said he intends to remain active.

With the Legislature nearly ready to convene for 2019, issues such as medical marijuana are bound to come up. Ojeda has taken credit for passing a medical marijuana bill that cannot be implemented in its present form.

One observer said, “I guess Richie thinks he’ll ride medical marijuana and teacher pay raises to the White House.”

It’s difficult for him to make the pay increases a big thing since Gov. Justice has become an outspoken advocate for them as well.

Repeatedly, national and local news is filled with terrifying accounts of West Virginians’ battles with drug addiction. The state regularly leads the country in drug overdose deaths and opioid abuse. Dozens of press conferences have been held where public officials have announced new plans to combat the problems. So what would you say if you were told there is really little to no help for addiction?

A former drug user asked me how much I knew about the drug emergency services in the state. I told him I knew little but assumed they were “second to none.” He chuckled.

“Ever call the hot line that Earl Ray put in?” he asked.

I said I had not. “Well, why don’t you call it sometime? Might make a good story. They shut it down.”

That was a few weeks ago. Over this past New Year’s weekend, I spoke with the folks at the hot line. It is operating 24/7.

The staff seemed extremely knowledgeable and informative. They answered all of my questions with confidence and clarity.

I was impressed to say the least.

So my informant was wrong, and I’m glad he was. I have had misinformed callers before.

We can’t assume, from my call, that this operation is actually helping lots of people, but I would say the odds are that it is.

And that’s always good for government.

It’s tough to have a locked-in opinion of how the Justice administration handles things. They have now decided to push back the West Virginia Turnpike pass increase until Jan. 15. The delay came after a public uproar that West Virginia residents did not have sufficient time to claim their discount with the new fees set to kick in Jan. 1.

Of course, the beefing about the tie-ups for discounts in December failed to consider that sales actually started in September. There’s something to be said for compassion, but it would be nice to see some firmness from this administration as well.

We have gone several weeks now with no disgrace from the Supreme Court. This may be a recent trophy winner. When the voters of the state actually get to seat their own elected justices, it will be a red-letter day for all.

Hope your year has gotten off to a great start.

Contact Ron Gregory at 304-533-5185 or ronjgregory@gmail.com.

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