If you live south of the geographical center of WV, you probably weren’t aware of the major gubernatorial debate recently held in our eastern panhandle, because neither of Charleston’s major newspapers covered it. As far as I can tell, none of the news media located below Braxton County (including radio and TV) gave it any coverage either.
Despite being heavily outnumbered by Democratic and Republican opponents, Mountain Party gubernatorial candidate Jesse Johnson was easily the crowd favorite, after his solutions to a broad array of tough questions earned him the first, last, and above all, the most applause in the auditorium. Johnson’s simple, straightforward, and practical solutions to long standing and serious problems within our great state won him not only the approval of the crowd, but the respect of his opponents as well as the media that covered the event
The following Martinsburg Journal headline indicated a real media breakthrough for the Mountain Party in its headline:
“All parties benefited from candidate forum”
You read it right. ALL parties, not just both, as the State Journal wrongly pushed:
“As the May 14 primary edges closer, candidates from both parties are making a point to attend fuctions (sic), forums and debates to get their name out in front of voters.“
That tired old propaganda about “BOTH” parties wasn’t a casual mistake, because later in the same article, the corporatist-owned Journal allowed:
“Mountain Party candidate Jesse Johnson also participated in the forum.”
With the phrase “also participated”, the State Journal’s news editors revealed themselves as a tentacle of the Appalachian Politburo, striving to preserve the corporate sovereignty of the unified political machine that, for all practical intent, the two major parties have melded into in West Virginia.
Despite the State Journal’s slight, Johnson weighed in so heavily on issues that several candidates from both of the other parties paid deference to him by name. That he was the only individual that candidates of both parties recognized personally revealed that there is a closely guarded agenda that WV’s two major party political machine maintains to preserve its status quo.
Although it was never reported by any media, there was groundbreaking news that in any other state would likely have earned statewide headlines. Johnson was the only candidate to promise that as governor he would halt the ongoing state moratorium blocking the hiring of full time state DEP inspectors, and that he would impose a new moratorium to stop the issuing of new drilling permits until and unless enough full time well trained inspectors were hired and regulations are put into the state code! He figures that as governor, after issuing his executive order on those two moratoriums, the pressure will be on for the legislature to immediately pass proper regs and see to it that enough inspectors are trained and hired.
In short, Johnson showed uncommon savvy over how to dislodge the logjam that now threatens citizens and their rights all across the state.
Other candidates, including acting governor Earl Ray Tomblin (D-Manchin Clone), addressed the issue by attempting to shift the blame onto the Democratically-controlled statehouse for not getting regulations passed during the regular session.
Other than Johnson’s, the most direct solution came from candidate Rick Thompson (D-Wayne), who said that if elected, he’d call for a special session of the legislature so they could all study on it some more, even though as House Speaker he knows that state lawmakers have been unsuccessfully batting the proper regulation of the industry that endorsed for two years in a row.
By the way, it’s no coincidence that the natural gas industry endorsed (pdf file) Thompson for his last political campaign. It’s also no coincidence that with Thompson’s help, gubernatorial candidate and acting Senate President Kessler (D-Marshall) manage to ram SB 465 (aka the “Marcellus Gas and Manufacturing Development Act”) through the WV legislature.
Kessler co-sponsored SB 465, which is a huge industry windfall tax break. Also unreported in the major media is the fact that together he and Thompson could easily have tied SB 465’s passage to the implementation of regulations protecting the health, safety, and rights of citizens. Instead, they passed it after Thompson’s House Finance Committee removed a provision in the bill that would have provided the Department of Environmental Protection with two million dollars from excess severance tax monies to order to hire more inspectors to help regulate the new horizontal hydraulic fracturing industry!
Considering the years of WV’s lawmakers and industry regulators delay regarding the moratorium on the injection of coal slurry as it continues to slowly poison the water wells of numerous communities across the state, it is no surprise that acting Governor Tomblin already signed the bill, or that both he and his WV Department of Environmental Protection director each oppose a moratorium on gas well drilling permits.
It’s unfortunate that the youtube below includes only a very small portion of the actual debate, because the full recording reveals that both the Democrats and the Republicans presented themselves as little more than mealy-mouthed corporate tools with no real vision for getting West Virginia out of the economic ditch the two major parties put us in in the first place.
video courtesy of The Martinsburg Journal
If you’re wondering why Charleston Newspapers failed to cover it, the answer is that they tend to avoid properly covering Jesse Johnson’s appearances every chance they get. That Johnson’s Mountain Party solidly rejects all corporate donations is believed to directly affect the decisions of their newsroom editors to cover him.
It is also notable that Mountain Party gubernatorial pre-candidate Bob Henry Baber lives much closer to where the event was held than his Mountain Party opponent, but he inexplicably chose not to participate even though he is reportedly that party’s chairman.