I haven't gotten around to doing my traditional sample ballot yet this election cycle. To explain: Years and years ago, when I was a "ballot commissioner," I began posting a sample ballot (this was in the paper ballot days) on the back of a door in the Circuit Clerk's office. Is it inappropriate to point out that my predictions have been uncannily accurate? So far, at least.
The vigor - and in some instances, the viciousness - of the current campaign probably has slowed down my prediction machine.
I haven't planned this post, so I don't know if this is going to boldly predict anything. So, let’s just call it some election observations?
Supreme Court - This is the hot button race in the state, at least the one where there is real competition. The players are:
Spike Maynard - I’m supporting him. I like him. He rules against me a lot. He has caught undeserved shit from political opponents. Were these opponents to point out that he’s just too damn conservative (the real objection they have), that would be fair. I’m getting some splash on this, and I’ll live with it.
Margaret Workman - Her big minus is that she’s been there before and left. But that’s her biggest plus, too. I barely know her personally. She has written some good decisions in the past and no question she can do the job.
Bob Bastress - Here is another guy that I don’t know well. He teaches at the College of Law, and has for something like 30 years. He’s certainly the best legal scholar of the group, and I’m presuming that he would be quite liberal. The academic accomplishments are important, but I just don’t think that they will translate to votes in West Virginia. Some of the bar resists an academic on the Court, and I can argue that one both ways. “Practical experience” is important, and sometimes professors have more of that than you would expect. If that’s the case, the campaign hasn’t effectively communicated that. Frank Cleckley is strongly supporting Bastress. I don't think Frank is well-known as a politician, but he's probably the most prominent lawyer in the state, and unquestionably transformed the Court (for the better) when he was a Justice there, and his word carries a lot of power.
Menis Ketchum - I am told that he is a really good lawyer in the southern part of the state, but I’ve never communicated with him in any way. His ads follow the pattern of the others, “Spike is a son of a bitch and it’s all Don Blankenship’s fault,” which may be effective, but it doesn’t tell us a thing about his judicial philosophy.
Prediction: Maynard, then Workman.
Sheriff - There are three serious candidates.
In the lead and my projected winner is Randy Proctor. He has run before and lost a squeaker last time. He has been running continually and effectively since. He has great law enforcement credentials. NONE of the candidates has talked about the fact that the Sheriff is also the treasurer of the county and runs a BIG business operation. I think that’s an anachronism anyway, but there’s no support for changing that. I’ve supported Randy for the past 2+ years.
Donnie Leonard will run a strong second, in my prediction. He is a thoroughly nice fellow with solid law enforcement credentials. He is strongly supported by Sheriff Slaughter, who swings a lot of weight in the Democratic party. His campaign has been strong, but not apparently strongly financed. It’s a shame that’s a factor, but Dr. Reality says that it is.
Joe Carpenter will be a real player in the future. If he stays in the public eye like Randy has done, he’s got a strong start on the 2012 or 2016 campaign. He is the least experienced, but still has good law enforcement credentials. He has not spent a great deal of money campaigning, but he’s worked personally hard at it, has kept on message and campaigned smartly. Son Tim has a Joe Carpenter sticker on his truck.
Family Court Judge
How in the pluperfect hell can I call this one? My great friend David Born is the incumbent, and he is an excellent judge. The things that make him a great judge make him a lousy politician. Perhaps this points out flaws in judicial selection, I don’t know. On the other hand, appointment invokes the appearance of cronyism and no doubt the reality of it in some instances.
My partner and great friend Amy Swisher is running against David. She’s the most personable of the candidates, and has worked extremely hard toward the end of the campaign. Her literature is really good, but her campaign hasn’t spent much money.
Marci Carroll is a really, really smart lawyer with a fanatic work ethic. Her campaign has run like clockwork, she’s put money into the campaign and if the amount of work is the sole determiner, she wins hands down.
Steve Fitz is an extraordinarily nice fellow with good sense. His campaign really never took off.
Prediction? Jeez - how about it’s within the margin of error, so we’ll see. It’s how much legs Dave’s incumbency has versus Marci’s determination versus Amy’s positive personality. It will be the nominee's election to lose, because if they take the Republican, Shirley Stanton, for granted they'll get greased. Shirley is a good lawyer and will run a really strong campaign.
I know that to Clank & Rags & the rest of the Shelf crowd, this is a great bloody boor of a post. Sorry, this is what's going on in my life right now.
Hillary is coming to Fairmont tomorrow night. I ain't going.