For West Virginia Secretary of State and U.S. Senate candidate Natalie Tennant, you couldn’t ask for a worse week.
First, let’s go to a major blunder by the Democrat state office holder. Earlier this week the Secretary of State’s office announced they would start charging for access to certain public documents.
From the Charleston Daily Mail:
“The documents in question relate to West Virginia businesses and provide information on articles of incorporation, certificates of dissolution, and statements of mergers and changes of officers.”
The business documents were originally available for free online for the general public. A few months back the office accidentally published a document including a business owners Social Security number. In response, the office pulled the database offline.
While once journalists, businesses, and the public could look up the documents on their own easily, now the Secretary of State’s office staff were working on printing off this information. Instead of just scrubbing the data to ensure no other SSN’s were on documents, they decided charging would be better.
“The office had planned to charge $5 to have a document emailed and $10 to have a document faxed. For a printed version, the charge would have been $1 for the first page, and 50 cents for each page thereafter.”
The announcement did not go over well with the public or the press. Journalists took to Twitter to complain about the fees. That made the SOS office backtrack, saying that they would not charge the press, but public documents are just that – public. You can’t choose who you charge simply based on whether someone is a journalist.
The Charleston Gazette caught up with Tennant, who still hadn’t decided what to do.
“I will look at that because it is important to keep the information that is available to the public, that it is as secure as possible for our businesses,” Tennant said. “… as we take a look at that, I will continue to evaluate that and see how it helps businesses and how we might be able to move forward with it.”
But by the end of the day Thursday, Secretary of State spokesperson Jake Glance said they would not charge any fees. They said the earlier press release was to gather “feedback” from the public. They can’t even walk back their press release properly, as it sure looked like an official policy to those who read it. By the time they tried to walk it back, newspapers had already published an AP report about the fees in Friday papers going into a three-day weekend.
Fitting this happened the same day Tennant and the Republican in the Senate race, Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito, spoke at the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce annual meeting at the Greenbrier Resort. Tennant started off by insulting Wall Street in front of business owners, industry leaders, and bankers. Not a very smart move to trash business at a business conference.
To make matters worse, the West Virginia Poll – conducted by R. L. Repass & Partners, sponsored by the Daily Mail and usually released during the Chamber’s annual meeting – shows Tennant trailing Capito by 17 points, 54-37. Capito also have the largest favorability rating in the state with 50 percent. Tennant’s favorability sits at 37 percent.
Capito’s numbers bode well for races further down on the ticket:
“The West Virginia Poll also shows 41 percent of those polled favor a West Virginia Legislature controlled by Republicans, compared to 39 percent favoring a Democrat-led Legislature. Democrats have controlled the state House of Delegates for more than 80 years, but Republicans picked up 11 seats last election and are confident they can win the majority this year.”
Tennant’s actions and her polling numbers show a candidate, and the Democratic Party in West Virginia as a whole, are no longer a voice for the people. Capito’s numbers and favorability could be the key to turning West Virginia’s federal delegation and statehouse red.