Picnic seemed to lack enthusiasm

September 8, 2018

Those who make a successful political prognostication career out of such things might have characterized Labor Day’s UMWA picnic as “bigger than last year.” In fact, most of those in charge made that comment to me on the grounds at Racine on Monday. While they may be correct in comparing last year to this, there is no way that 2018′s attendance came close to rivaling those of 15 or 20 years ago.

The 2017 and 2018 crowd sizes were certainly close to the same. One concern is, however, that 2018 is supposedly the “November to Remember” for unions and Democrats; 2017 was an off-year politically.

I actually would prefer to say I sensed a new mood of enthusiasm and excitement at Racine Monday. That would be good for Democrats, but it would also be good for me and all political pundits. If I could somehow convince you that every contest in November is going to be razor-tight, you might have a tendency to want to read even more. But I never intentionally lie to my readers.

Nationally and locally, I see no chance of Democrats recapturing legislative majorities. The U.S. Senate race in West Virginia is close. Democrat Senator Joe Manchin will likely eke out a win but there is no guarantee. Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is a far better candidate than most give him credit for, and he is definitely in the race. The campaign ads will be highly negative on both sides, and we’ll just wait to see who’s left standing.

Republicans hold advantages in the three House of Representatives races. District 1′s Rep. David McKinley will win in a landslide as will Alex Mooney in District 2. Experts say Republican Carol Miller has District 3 safely in hand, although I still think one cannot discount the energy of Democratic opponent Sen. Richard Ojeda.

There are just few places for Democrats to make gains in the state legislature, now controlled by the GOP. Brian Prim stands an outside shot at picking up a D senate seat in District 4, where Eric Tarr is the Republican opponent. Dr. Charles Sammons, logically, should beat incumbent Republican Mark Maynard in District 6, but it’s no sure thing. The district, once so solidly Democrat that they would have elected the famous “yellow dog,” is now nearly as strongly Republican.

Richard Lindsay is one of those Democrat socialists who believe West Virginia tilted to the left when Bernie Sanders defeated Hillary Clinton in the 2016 primary. They’re wrong. It was hatred for Clinton, not love for Sanders, that propelled that race. Anyway, Republican Senator Ed Gaunch clearly has the upper hand against Lindsay, who does have enthusiasm on his side.

Mike Oliverio might well convert Democrat Bob Beach’s seat to Republican. Beach, outspoken in his dislike for President Trump (still polling at more than 60 percent in the state) and love for Democrat social programs, will need everything he has to hold on. Michael Folk could beat Democrat John Unger in 16, and Terrell Ellis has a shot against Republican Tom Takubo in 17.

All of that, however, does not account for a change in management of the state senate. Currently, there are 22 Republicans and just 12 Democrats.

My right wing friends can be just as filled with hatred as leftists. Those who defended the NFL’s treatment of Colin Kaepernick by saying he isn’t “good enough” to be a pro quarterback now promise to boycott Nike, who hired him as a spokesperson. These same folks flap their tongues about the men and women in uniform who have “fought and died for our freedom.”

But, apparently, that “freedom” only extends to those whose opinions we share. They dislike Kaepernick’s position on the “Star-Spangled Banner.”

I pledge to buy more Nike products because of their courage.

We will continue to monitor statistical expert Nate Silver’s projections in the District 3 House of Representatives race. His latest call is Republican Miller over Democrat Ojeda, 58 percent to 42 percent. He lists Miller’s chances of winning at 94 percent.

Recall, if you will, that Silver has always been one of the Democrats’ favorites, so I am attempting to take any bias of mine out of this.

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

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