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MANCHIN: SKAFF TIES A FAMILY THING


Publication: THE CHARLESTON GAZETTE
Published: Monday, May 12, 2008
Page: 1C
Byline: PHIL KABLER

Some election-eve tidbits: Some Democratic candidates in Kanawha's 30th Delegate District are miffed that Gov. Joe Manchin has attended fundraisers and meet-the-candidate events for Doug Skaff Jr., who is making his first run for the House.


That, some contend, violates one of those unwritten rules of politics that a governor should not support any nonincumbent candidate in a contested primary election.


I talked to Manchin about the complaints, and he stressed that his support for Skaff stems from a longtime friendship with his father, dating back to their days as students at West Virginia University.


"His father, Doug Skaff Sr., and I go back to college. We have over a 40-year relationship," Manchin said. "Friendships mean an awful lot to me. It's really a family thing."


Manchin said he doesn't see it as a case of Skaff running against incumbents Bonnie Brown, Nancy Guthrie, Bobbie Hatfield, Dave Higgins, Sharon Spencer and Danny Wells, but running for the open seat created when Delegate Corey Palumbo, D-Kanawha, decided to run for the 8th District Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Vic Sprouse, R-Kanawha.


Manchin said he believes one of his responsibilities as governor is to recruit bright, enthusiastic young people such as Skaff to run for public office.


"I'm out there encouraging young people to get involved," Manchin said. "I'm out recruiting all the time."


Manchin, meanwhile, was making no predictions about his margin of victory Tuesday against his little-known and underfinanced challenger, Delegate Mel Kessler, D-Raleigh.


If Kessler could pull 30 percent of the vote Tuesday, that amount of protest vote would send a clear and potentially damaging message to Manchin, particularly in light of his strong (but not necessarily articulate) support of WVU President Mike Garrison.


Manchin suggested that voters disgruntled with national politics might take their anger out on incumbents in statewide races.


"We're in a very volatile national and global economy," he said.


Manchin said he's even inviting Kessler to attend the traditional Manchin family election-eve rally in Farmington tonight - an election tradition that dates back to Manchin's uncle, A. James, and one that Manchin has attended as a candidate since his first campaign in 1982.


"It's become such a tradition, I've had my opponents show up some campaigns," Manchin said. "At that point, there's no more campaigning to do."


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Don't be surprised if Richie Robb makes a stronger-than-expected run in the 2nd Congressional District Democratic primary.


He'll run strong in the Kanawha Valley and has contacts in the Eastern Panhandle he made during his 2004 run.


Plus, his lawsuit against the legislative pay raise can't hurt him with the electorate.


Which may explain the late flurry of ads by favorite Anne Barth.


nnn


If Supreme Court Justice Elliott "Spike" Maynard survives Tuesday, it will come down to two factors, observers suggest:


s Unusually high numbers of undecided voters late in the campaign - as much as 40 percent in one poll released last week. If the anti-Maynard efforts were really sticking, one would think a much smaller number of voters would be undecided at this point.


s The likelihood that pro-Maynard voters will single-shot their votes, a significant benefit in a multiple-nominee races.


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Sam Watson of Lincoln County filed a complaint with the secretary of state's office against Lincoln County Commission President Charles McCann for having re-election signs on his car, which allegedly has been frequently parked at the courthouse, within 300 feet of the polls during the early voting period.


A check with the secretary of state's office shows that the prohibition of campaign materials within 300 feet of a polling place applies to courthouses or courthouse annexes during early voting - assuming that the parking space in question is on courthouse property.


The pertinent section of the state election law states, "Vehicles permitted within the three hundred foot area must remove all election signs from such vehicles. Small signs such as bumper stickers which are not easily removed may be left on the vehicle."


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Finally, Manchin wasn't kidding about remaining neutral as a superdelegate in the Democratic presidential race until after the May 13 primary.


The official explanation for why he didn't attend the Hillary Clinton rally Thursday in the Capitol rotunda was because of scheduling conflicts.


Manchin's schedule Thursday morning consisted of:


A. Handing out Appalachian Regional Commission grants in the governor's reception room - perhaps a hundred paces from the Clinton rally.


B. Flying to Clarksburg for the grand opening of Chesapeake Energy's regional office in Jane Lew.


Yep, I can see where it would have been impossible to reschedule either of those events.


To contact staff writer Phil Kabler, call 348-1220 or e-mail philk@wvgazette.com.

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