Most people aren't aware of their local lawmakers and politicians, and these people make and enforce the larger portion of the laws that affect citizens. In Cabell County, one of the more contested races appears to be the race for Mayor of Huntington. Incumbent Kim Wolfe (R) has made progress in the last four years as the man in charge of the Jewel City -- crime rates are down, streets being paved, businesses coming to town, and steady changes in revitalizing downtown. He faces a strong opponent from city councilman, Steve Williams (D), who hasn't truly distinguished himself from Wolfe, but has a legitimate chance of winning from being a decently liked man amongst several segments of the population.
I see Wolfe winning a tight race -- 52% to 48%. The changes in Huntington are visible, and with Williams not distinguishing himself as being that different from the current mayor, people won't see a reason to oust the incumbent.
Of interest in the county is the race for House of Delegates for District 16, with Kevin Craig, Sean Hornbuckle, and Jim Morgan running for the Democrats, and Carol Miller and Mike Davis for the GOP. The top three receiving votes will be placed into the House, and it appears Craig, Morgan, and Miller will return to their offices, but I'm putting Hornbuckle as a dark horse that will finish third, hopefully ousting Miller, who has been running terribly vague radio ads that are borderline insulting, and at best, pandering of the worst kind. Part of those ads intimated she was for such radical ideas as 'more jobs' and 'the best education' for our students. Seriously? My personal favorite was that she 'actually read the bills' before voting on them. Well, congratulations for doing your job.
Of particular interest with Miller is her voting record on key bills. Examining her record, she only votes 'yea' on bills that are foregone conclusions. Feel free to examine that record for yourself. But hey, I can't harp on Miller too much, consider that another incumbent, Jim Morgan, has an even worse voting record. On the 40 bills that Vote Smart deemed as 'key bills' from 2006-2012, Morgan voted 'Yea' on all of them save one.
District 17 should see Democratic incumbents Dale Stephens and Doug Reynolds retain seats in the House and also Republican Kelli Sobonya in District 18.
The gubernatorial election in West Virginia is pretty straight forward. Last year, Earl Ray Tomblin (D) won the special election as the state's chief executive, and now faces the same challenger, Bill Maloney (R). The result will be the same, the margin of victory will be greater. Rematches never work out well for the challenger. Earl Ray in a walk -- 58% to 41%, Mountain Party scoring the 1%.
Speaking of rematches that don't pan out, Joe Manchin (D) will throttle John Raese (R) in the race for United States Senate. Raese hasn't been campaigning nearly as much, and the GOP has not bothered pouring in the resources they did in the previous race. Let's put it this way -- I think I saw Raese on the AMC hit show The Walking Dead. Manchin -- 63% to 37%.
Nick Rahall (D) will defeat Rick Snuffer (R) (no way a guy named Snuffer wins) even though no one in the 3rd district could tell you what Rahall has done for them in the House of Representatives. Team Donkey wins -- 56% to 44%.
Shelley Moore Capito (R) is so safe in the 2nd district House race, I can't even tell you who's running against her. I'm talking Florida State vs. Savannah State style blowout. Capito by 40 points or more.
West Virgina's 1st district House seat is the only Congressional race that merits any real attention. David McKinley (R) took advantage of political backlash against Democrats in 2010 to take a House seat that had been held by the left since before I was born. McKinley will not be so fortunate in this election cycle. Of the state's three congressional districts, the 1st is the most conservative, but it's still West Virginia. Challenger Sue Thorn (D) has that much going for her, but not much else. McKinley wins, but it's going to be close -- 51% to 49%.
As for the bigger picture of Congress, I see Republicans still holding a majority of seats in the House of Representatives, but losing ground. Democrats will retain control of the Senate and divided government will continue in Washington.
Before examining the presidential race, I'm looking for some 'firsts' in American history. Ballot referendums and initiatives exist in multiple states that could make history.
Colorado, Washington, and Oregon are all considering the legalization of marijuana for recreational use. Look for one of these states to vote yes on this issue -- and then chaos to follow. If I had to guess which of these states would be the one to vote this measure into effect, I would put my money on Washington. All three states could be classified as 'progressive' in their willingness to be a laboratory of democracy, though, and it wouldn't shock me to see any of them make history.
Three states -- Maryland, Maine, and Washington -- will be voting on whether to permit same-sex marriage. No state has ever had a citizenry vote to permit same-sex marriage in the past. Any state who does permit it did so through their state legislature or by court order. The losing streak for liberals ends today. I'm going to say all three of these states vote for same-sex marriage, in a stunning reversal of the norm.
In an added note, look for Massachusetts to overwhelming approve of physician-assisted suicide.
And finally, the presidential race! President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney. The former governor of Massachusetts has made a powerful case for winning this election, and generated more momentum than I thought possible. But I can't see him taking down the president this year, and for a few reasons.
As sad as it is to admit, likability is a major factor for many voters. And Romney has no charisma at all. None. Every time he attempts to force it, he becomes so strained that it appears to be anything but genuine -- "I like Big Bird" and "... binders full of women." His disingenuous nature and extreme wealth make him a not so attractive candidate to most voters. Let me also state that it's no sin to be wealthy, but I think most voters will see Romney as 'out of touch' with the average American.
I also believe "Superstorm Sandy" has factored into the election. Since the storm hit the East coast last week, President Obama has been able to look very presidential in assisting hard hit areas, while Romney has had to sit idly by and do nothing. The storm stymied the campaign momentum. Worst possible timing. If Romney campaigned during the immediate aftermath of the storm, he looks like a jerk. If Romney criticized the president for potentially pandering to voters, he looks like a jerk. The challenger had to remain quiet -- one of the worst actions (or inaction) a campaign can endure.
Despite the flaws of Obama, he has achieved a measure of success, particularly with his liberal base. The president pushed for the auto bailout, effectively ended the war in Iraq, decimated al-Qaeda leadership (including the death of Osama bin Laden), provided generous rebates for home buyers, and the unemployment rate has decreased. If you're a true liberal, you'd have to be even more thrilled about Obama's support for same-sex marriage and the passage of the Affordable Care Act.
|Here's how it could play out ...|
When the votes are counted, I see this as a tight race -- Obama wins the popular vote 52% to Romney's 45%, with Gary Johnson (L) pulling in 3% (falling short of the 5% needed to receive federal funding). Of course, the real victory is determined by the Electoral College, which could be even tighter than the popular vote.
The Electoral College vote will be 272 to 266, in favor of President Obama. Presuming the polls are correct about most of the states that have large margins, let's turn to battleground states. I see Romney carrying Florida, Iowa, Colorado, Virginia, and North Carolina. But the President will score victories in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Nevada to offset.