Talk of a split among Republicans in West Virginia is greatly exaggerated. The GOP is uniting behind Alex Mooney's campaign for the 2nd Congressional District, leaving relics of past behind.
State Democrat activists have latched onto a statement by a former Republican operative who made a career out of embracing Democrats at the expense of his own party. They've also praised the efforts of a liberal Republican mayor to rally a small minority of ideologically-confused Republicans to Democrat 2nd Congressional District candidate Nick Casey's side.
Bill Phillips, the campaign spokesperson to the late Republican Governor Cecil Underwood, wrote on his blog about the trend of Tea Party-supported candidates sweeping out establishment Republicans in primaries. It starts out lamenting the primary defeat of Virginian Eric Cantor, the House Majority Leader, but by the end of the article he takes a swipe at Mooney.
"This take over extends even to selecting a Congressman to replace Shelley Moore Capito in the 2nd District. Not only has the Tea Party prevailed there but it was done with a Maryland resident coming across our state line."
Phillips is not very transparent in his blog post. He fails to mention he was ousted as West Virginia's representative on the Republican National Committee, something he obviously harbors a great deal of bitterness about. He was replaced by Kris Warner, a former state party chairman and a more conservative voice.
Maybe there is room for Phillips in the new Republicans for Casey, formed by Charleston Mayor Danny Jones. The recently-unshaved mayor has never supported the state party in any way shape or form. He has started, then raised, taxes. Instead of giving back excess tax monies or putting those monies in repairing crumbling infrastructure, he chooses to spend more money on a bleeding minor league ball park or being a landlord for young professionals. And pensions have dug a hole that Danny isn't even close to filling.
Other than those issues Danny is a valid voice for Republicans who don't like the outsider Mooney. If you're sensing the sarcasm, good, because I'm laying it on very thick.
This isn't so much about Republican versus Republican as it is Charleston versus the rest of the 2nd District. Gary Kelley, chairman of the Berkeley County Republican Executive Committee, says this movement will backfire.
Phillips and Jones are no longer the mainstream of the state Republican Party. They are outliers who choose crony capitalism, backroom deals, and not rocking the boat. They are a part of the same system that keeps West Virginia dead last. Republicans in West Virginia are showing these relics the door.