Maloney takes Panhandle
MARTINSBURG – It was acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin who won the statewide race for the governor’s seat in West Virginia, but his Republican rival, Bill Maloney, carried the Eastern Panhandle in Tuesday’s special gubernatorial election.
By an unofficial total of 3,353 votes to 3,217 votes, Maloney, a Morgantown businessman, was victorious over Democrat Tomblin in Jefferson County; he won 6,674 to 4,496 in Berkeley County; and 1,643 to 883 in Morgan County.
The election was held to determine who will serve the remainder of former Gov. Joe Manchin’s term, which ends next year. Manchin was elected to the U.S. Senate last year to serve the remainder of the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd’s term.
Jefferson results a surprise
Maloney’s victory in Jefferson County was seen as an unexpected surprise to some.
“It’s unusual for the Republicans to carry Jefferson County. … I don’t want to say a coup, but it is unusual,” said Anne Dungan, chairwoman of the Jefferson County Republican Executive Committee. “We’re very pleased. We had a lot of volunteers who did an awful lot of telephoning and door knocking, and it paid off.”
There were charges of dirty and negative campaigning during this race, which didn’t come as much of a surprise for some.
“I heard an ad this morning on the radio from the Democratic side that had some things in it that were just untrue. … We of course in the Eastern Panhandle don’t get all the television ads that they get in the rest of the state, so I’ve not been privy to those things,” Dungan said, “although I’ve heard it’s been pretty ugly.”
Reva Mickey, chairwoman of the Jefferson County Democratic Executive Committee, said she wishes things were different.
“I have been somewhat disappointed with the negative ads because I like positive things that occur in campaigns,” Mickey said.
Out of 34,057 registered voters in Jefferson County, 6,824 participated in this election, resulting in a 20.04 percent voter turnout, said Jefferson County Clerk Jennifer Maghan. The county also had 1,608 residents participate in early voting.
“(There were) a few little technical bumps here at the tallying part with the equipment … so the results were a little slower than we expected,” Maghan said, noting that the results still were tallied before 9 p.m., making for a fairly early election night. “We’re really satisfied with the turnout. … Everyone’s shocked that we had that many people turn out to vote in Jefferson.”
Other candidates in the election were Mountain Party candidate Bob Henry Baber, who received 151 votes; independent candidate Marla Ingels, who received 70 votes; and American Third Position Party candidate Harry Bertram, the recipient of 18 votes.
There also were three certified write-in candidates in the election: John R. Bartlett, Phil Hudok and Donald Lee Underwood. Write-in candidates received 12 votes, which will be announced at a later time on the Jefferson County Clerk’s website, www.jeffersoncountyclerkwv.com.
Election results in all counties are unofficial until they are certified following canvassing by county officials.
Berkeley sees smooth election
Bonnie Woodfall, Berkeley County deputy clerk in charge of elections, said a voter reported that a poll worker asked for a photo ID, which is not required to vote in West Virginia. The incident was handled and corrected quickly, she said.
Otherwise, there were no reports of trouble or problems at Berkeley County polls, she said.
With about 1.5 percent of the vote. Ingels garnered a little less than 1 percent, while Bertram got about three-tenths of 1 percent.
Voter turnout in Berkeley County was about 18.3 percent.
In Berkeley County, with the day off from school, 17-year-old Tiffany Sine was getting in some shopping in downtown Martinsburg.
If she could have voted in Tuesday’s special gubernatorial election, the Martinsburg High School senior said she would have voted for Maloney.
“I’ve met Tomblin and I don’t like what he’s running for,” she said without hesitation. “And Maloney is not a career politician.”
As for all those negative ads both candidates were running, Sine does not like them.
“They’re mudslinging,” she said. “There should be more strict rules about what they can advertise. It gets old.”
A young couple crossing Queen Street who did not want to be identified said they did not know there was an election. The young woman said she’d wanted to go to the Division of Motor Vehicles office Tuesday, but it was closed. She seemed quite put out.
Sandra Steth, of Martinsburg, did not vote Tuesday either – she voted early.
“I love early voting. It’s my best friend,” she said with a smile. She added that she supported Tomblin.
“He’s already working to make a change in West Virginia. Why change if you have someone who’s already working for West Virginia?” she said.
She does not like the negative ads, either, nor does she like so-called robocalls, prerecorded telephone messages that automatically call voters’ phone numbers.
“I want to talk to a person,” Steth said.
She pointed out that it was an odd time for an election, and added that a lot of people she had talked to did not know there was an election.
“Voting is truly a privilege,” Steth said. “And if you don’t vote, you don’t have anything to complain about.”
Morgan sees increased turnout over primary
Morgan County Clerk Debra Kesecker said she believed voting was slow Tuesday.
“We have one precinct here in the courthouse, and it looks like it has been awfully slow there,” Kesecker said.
She said 625 ballots had been cast during early voting, a number that was up from the 400 ballots cast in the May 2011 primary election.
“I wasn’t really looking for voting to be very heavy in this election,” she said, adding that it’s already time to look ahead at next year’s election.
“It’s really not too long away when you consider that the candidate filing period is in January,” Kesecker said.
Berkeley Springs resident Tommy Moss echoed Kesecker’s comments, saying he was surprised when he visited the courthouse and few folks were voting.
“It was deserted. There was nobody in there voting and that surprised me a little, although they may be coming at different times,” Moss said.
He added that he always is disappointed with misinformation being distributed during statewide campaigns, which can make it more difficult for voters.
“I think that is just wrong,” Moss said, adding that he knows a lot of local people involved in both parties, so if he has any questions he asks them for accurate information. “But in the end, I vote for the person,” he said.
Army veteran Keith Burton, of Berkeley Springs, strongly believes that each person should vote, a philosophy he’s passing down to his 10-year-old daughter Hannah.
“She said this morning it was only eight more years until she can vote,” Burton said proudly.
The pair visited the polls mid-morning Tuesday and were looking forward to hearing the gubernatorial election results.
“There weren’t a lot of people there when I was voting, and I’m afraid not too many people even remembered. … I feel it is my right to vote and I should vote,” Burton said.
“But I notice the people who complain the most are the ones who don’t even vote. If you don’t vote, you don’t have a right to complain,” he said.
Burton said he doesn’t pay too much attention to so-called negative advertisements because it’s up to the voters to do some candidate research and filter the information presented to them.
Overall, he isn’t bothered too much by negative campaigns.
“If it’s the truth, it’s the truth and you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do as a candidate – if that’s what your tactic is,” he said.
But Janice Stotler, also of Berkeley Springs, felt differently about how the candidates handled this election.
“I’m leaving it to the Lord and feel the best man will be elected. But I would rather not have these negative ads. You do hear so much that you don’t know what to believe. Sometimes it is hard to know if you’re voting for the right one or not,” Stotler said.
Berkeley Springs resident Eleanor Perez said she decided to skip voting Tuesday.
“I do vote most of the time but I just don’t feel like it today. … The candidates don’t really interest me. I haven’t really paid too much attention to the ads, but I do think Tomblin is a jerk from what I’ve seen,” Perez said.
“If I were voting, it would be for Maloney,” she said.
Baber finished with 72 votes, Ingels had 40 and Bertram ended with 14. There also was one unidentified write-in vote, according to the County Clerk’s Office.