A graveyard nap

November 25, 2014 by joelebert

Delegate Jim Butler has given a new meaning to dead tired.

Last year, Butler, R-Mason, decided to ride his motorcycle to a conference hosted at the University of Notre Dame. Faced with the prospect of an eight-hour journey back home, he requested his GPS unit to give him the shortest route home.

Instead of main highways, Butler found himself on two-lane state roads. During the drive – while still in Indiana – he became really tired and knew he couldn’t risk continuing his drive. But there was a problem.

“There were no signs of any hotels or towns,” Butler told the Daily Mail.

Luckily, he happened upon a church that had a small graveyard adjacent to it. He reached into his saddlebags and set up a makeshift sleeping station, next to a grave.

“I laid next to a tombstone and slept for about five hours,” said Butler.

Thanks to his roadside stop, he got enough shuteye to return home safely. Glad he was able to rest in peace.

Hall tabbed to be next Senate Majority Whip

November 21, 2014 by joelebert

Two weeks after switching political parties, Daniel Hall will become the next Senate Majority Whip.

Hall posted the following announcement on Facebook on Friday: “As we transition in the Senate, all that we have ask (sic) for in southern WV is to have a seat at the table. The issues that affect us all in this region can now be a higher priority. I am honored to be part of the Leadership Team as the Senate Majority Whip. I look forward to working on rural issues as Chairman of Agriculture and workforce development as Chairman of Labor.”

Hall left the Democratic Party following the Nov. 4 election, which left the Senate deadlocked at 17-17.

On Nov. 5, Hall filed documents with the Secretary of State, giving Republicans the majority of both chambers of the Legislature for the first time since the Great Depression.

At the time, Hall said he made the decision to switch parties in order to best serve his constituents and he received no promises of a leadership role.

Read the 43-page indictment against Don Blankenship

November 13, 2014 by Matt Murphy

U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin’s office issued a 43-page indictment against former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship in connection with violating federal mine safety and health standards.

Read the developing story here, and take a look at the indictment below:


With state Senate no longer tied, focus shifts to picking president

November 6, 2014 by joelebert

With the Republicans currently holding onto an 18-16 majority in the state Senate following a party switch by Sen. Daniel Hall, D-Wyoming, attention now centers around who will become the next Senate president.

One choice could be current Senate Minority Leader Mike Hall, R-Putnam, who has served in the Legislature since 1995. Several other people are being discussed including Sen. Bill Cole, R-Mercer.

But both Hall and Cole said on Thursday it was too early to say who will become the Senate president.

Hall told the Daily Mail nothing has been decided yet and discussions will continue to take place in the coming weeks.

“We don’t want to put our new members into a divisive struggle,” he said.

He admitted he has heard about the possibility of other Democrats considering switching parties but would not divulge any particulars for fear of starting rumors. In fact, Hall said at one point on Tuesday he heard that he was considering switching parties to become a Democrat – to which he immediately dismissed the idea.

“There’s rumors flying everywhere right now,” he said.

Hall said no matter who may join the party in the coming days or whoever is tabbed to become the next Senate president he expects the party to focus on specific issues, including tax reform, education laws and legal reform.

Hall said he would be happy to play whatever role is necessary, whether that involves becoming president or not. He also said there are plenty of qualified candidates, including some elected on Tuesday and that he would support whoever is tabbed for the position, including Cole, who he said brings leadership and business experience with him.

Cole said it would be inappropriate to say who is being discussed for the position. When asked whether he was interested in becoming the Senate president, Cole said, “I wanted to come to Charleston to serve. I’m here to make West Virginia a better place. And I’ll take on whatever responsibility.”

Sen. Craig Blair, R-Berkeley, said it was too early to say whom he would support for the position but he knows the party will work together as a team going forward.

“The time has come for West Virginia to live up to its potential,” he said.

Blair said the Republican Party offers a pathway to prosperity. “We realize our time may be limited and we need to show results,” he said. “We’ve got a new era going in West Virginia and I’m hoping that everyone’s going to reap the benefits.”

State Senate tie is first in over a century

November 5, 2014 by joelebert

The 17-17 tie for control of the West Virginia state Senate is unprecedented according to the Senate clerk’s office, leaving experts uncertain on how to move forward. But according to historical records, the Senate experienced a tie more than a century ago.

The tie is not addressed in the state constitution, said deputy Senate clerk Lee Cassis.

“As far as we can tell we don’t have a precedent for it,” he said.

In addition to the constitution, Cassis said the office turned to the rules but there is nothing on the subject there either. For now, the clerk’s office has begun looking outside of West Virginia.

” We’re looking at what other states have done,” he said.

Cassis said he has used the National Conference of State Legislatures as a resource. Through his preliminary research on Wednesday morning, Cassis said some states have had power-sharing agreements where the presiding officer changes each day or each year. But that hasn’t helped clarify things just yet.

“What will happen here – I’m not sure yet,” said Cassis.

Senate Minority Leader Mike Hall said there will likely have to be some sort of compromise. “Nobody is going to get absolute control,” he said.

When reached on Wednesday morning, Hall was unaware of the fact that the constitution does not address a tie. He said he planned to meet with the clerk’s office today.

Hall assured that whatever happens the Senate will continue to function.

“We’ve always had a capacity to deliver legislation,” he said. “That will continue however this is worked out.”

But apparently the state has experienced a tie before.

According to the West Virginia Encyclopedia, the Senate, which had 15 members from each party, was tied after the 1910 and 1912 elections. During the 1911 legislative session, the Republican senators took a train to Cincinnati in order to prevent the Senate from reaching a 16-member quorum. The tie was never broken but an arrangement was made where Republicans elected the Senate president and the Democrats were allowed to chose the U.S. Senators.

WV Election Night

November 3, 2014 by Brad McElhinny

Follow along as our reporters provide West Virginia Election Night updates:

Live Blog WV Election Night

Follow along: Doug Skaff vs. Tom Takubo for WV Senate

October 20, 2014 by Brad McElhinny

The Charleston Daily Mail editorial board is meeting today with candidates for WV Senate District 17. It’s a Kanawha County seat that was vacated was vacated because Sen. Brooks McCabe, D-Kanawha, is retiring. electionInteresting timing on the meeting though — and let’s just get this out of the way since it will be top of mind for most. Skaff was charged with DUI in Morgantown early Saturday morning. He issued a statement Saturday afternoon acknowledging he’d had “a couple of drinks,” saying he’d requested a blood test and apologizing to supporters. The meeting was scheduled way before that happened and we’ll go on as usual, with both candidates participating.

Skaff, a Democrat, is leaving his seat in the 35th WV House District to run for state Senate. He was first elected to the House of Delegates in 2008. Takubo, a Republican, is a 42-year-old critical care specialist and father of three.  The Daily Mail editorial board is being represented by editor Brad McElhinny, managing editor Philip Maramba, opinions editor Kelly Merritt and editorial writer/columnist Don Surber. Business editor Jared Hunt is providing coverage. We’ll liveblog and livestream below:

Follow along: Candidates for U.S. Senate

October 16, 2014 by Zack Harold

The Charleston Daily Mail editorial board is meeting today with candidates from the U.S. Senate race, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, Phil Hudok, Bob Henry Baber and John Buckley.

We will provide a live video stream of the conversation once the meeting begins at 11:30 a.m.

Capito, Tennant, Hudok, Buckley and Baber are running to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, who announced his retirement last year.

The editorial board is represented by editor Brad McElhinny, managing editor Philip Maramba, opinions editor Kelly Merritt and editorial writer and columnist Don Surber. Jared Hunt, the Daily Mail’s business editor, will live-blog the event below and provide coverage in tomorrow’s newspaper.

Congress: David McKinley vs Glen Gainer

October 13, 2014 by Brad McElhinny

Congressional candidates David McKinley and Glen Gainer are meeting today with the Charleston Daily Mail editorial board.

Both are seeking to represent West Virginia’s northern district.

McKinley, a Wheeling businessman, is the Republican incumbent. Gainer, West Virginia’s auditor, is a Democrat from Parkersburg who hopes to take over the seat.

Follow along here:

Follow along: Evan Jenkins in U.S. House race

October 9, 2014 by Brad McElhinny

jenkins_evanThe Charleston Daily Mail editorial board is meeting with Evan Jenkins, Republican candidate for Congress in the district that represents southern West Virginia.

The incumbent, Nick Joe Rahall, declined an invitation. Rahall has sometimes come to visit our editorial board in the past.

Jenkins first ran for the West Virginia House of Delegates in 1993 as a Democrat and was elected to the state Senate starting in 2002.  He switched to the Republican Party in 2013 and ran unopposed for the Republican nomination for Congress last spring.

We’ll be liveblogging and livestreaming the session. Present for the editorial board will be editor Brad McElhinny, managing editor Philip Maramba, opinions editor Kelly Merritt and editorial writer/columnist Don Surber. Providing coverage today is business editor Jared Hunt.