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Legislature’s back; Charleston heats up

January 12, 2019

It is always an interesting time when the Legislature is back in town. There are always fascinating issues, the height of intrigue and major decisions to make.

Of course, what fascinates legislators does not always cause intrigue among the electorate. High tension, back stabbing and more often bridge naming, for example, highlight the sessions.

That’s the subject that caused all breakdown in positive relations between State Sen. Richard Ojeda and Delegate Rupie Phillips.

It is a major issue to the families fighting to have a bridge named in their relatives’ honor.

Such minor things (to the rest of us) take up time and energy while major legislation gets stockpiled.

It seems Gov. Jim Justice has had more vacancies to fill than most modern governors. Two more House of Delegates spots opened recently and Justice will have to fill those.

I once observed that former Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s ability to raise and lower flags was among his greatest talents.

Speaking of Tomblin, there are those who think he will run for governor again in 2020. I am not among them.

Quite frankly, I do not think Tomblin enjoyed the job the first time he had it.

Secondly, there is the matter of whether ANYONE can beat Justice and his money. At this point, I do not think so.

That is not to say there are not a lot of would-be governors out there. Just nobody who can beat Justice at this point.

It would be interesting if new Charleston Mayor Amy Goodwin did so well she was drafted in 2020. Or that she did a great job and voters demanded that her husband, former U.S. Attorney Booth

Amy Goodwin proved wildly popular, beating her primary and general opponents by large margins.

There is no doubt Amy Goodwin has the energy and inspiration to make a great mayor for the capital city. Her enthusiasm is catching.

On the subject of 2020 governor candidates, there are many politicos who believe former governor, now U.S. Senator, Joe Manchin will run. I do not join that chorus either.

While Manchin certainly enjoyed being governor, unlike Tomblin, he is a political realist.

Democrat Manchin was only able to beat back a challenge by Attorney General Patrick Morrisey by a few thousand votes in 2018. This time, President Donald Trump, who is wildly popular, will be on the ballot running for re-election. Be assured Trump will not be for Manchin.

As a realist, the senator knows getting elected would be a real task. He will not even try.

Pundits expected Morrisey to try to deliver a death blow to the medical marijuana bill this week.

Republicans, as a whole, do not want the legislation implemented. As it stands now, it cannot be. There is no mechanism in place to handle funding for the program.

Many Republicans, including Justice, claim to be for the law. Their hearts are not in it.

Of course this law is the way Sen. Richard Ojeda got the ball rolling to launch what he thinks is a national political career.

Ojeda ballyhood getting such a controversial bill passed during his first legislative session. Since then, he largely lost interest.

With no way to handle funds from anyone involved, the program cannot begin.

Most believe a huge majority of state voters favor medical marijuana. It is certain that it will be a big issue in 2020.

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