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2018 Primaries Continue – Mississippi and Alabama

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Mississippi and Alabama, two of the southernmost Appalachian states, held their primaries on Tuesday, June 5.

MISSISSIPPI

The state of Mississippi will elect one of its Senators in the general election on November 6 and the second one in a special election.

GOP voters picked the incumbent, Sen. Roger Wicker, over Richard Boyanton, a small business owner and anti-establishment candidate who openly rejected donations and assistance from the Republican party, to run in the regular race.

Mississippi  holds a nonpartisan special Senate election, also in November, in which voters will pick a replacement Senator for  the Republican Thad Cochran, who retired from the US Senate due to health issues.

The Democratic field in the Senate primaries for the state looked significantly broader, with six candidates running. David Baria, State House minority leader, will face Howard Sherman in the runoffs.

Three out of the four Congressional districts of Mississippi are currently in GOP hands. Out of the three incumbents, only two – Trent Kelly in District 1 and Steven Palazzo in District 4 – ran in the primaries, leaving District 3 entirely to the new candidates.

Incumbent Trent Kelly ran unopposed in District 1, while Steven Palazzo won his race in District 4 against his only opponent E. Brian Rose.

Democrat Bennie Thompson is the incumbent in the District 2 and ran unopposed in his party primary. The GOP didn’t file a candidate.

District 3 saw a competitive race on the GOP side, with six candidates. Michael Guest and Whit Hughes will go against each other in the runoffs. Democrats presented a two-candidate field, with State Representative Michael Evans, winning the nomination.

ALABAMA

Alabama picked candidates for all of it’s seven Congressional Districts, as well as for governor and several other public offices, including the state’s Supreme Court.

The GOP incumbent Governor, Kay Ivey, faced three other candidates (Michael McAllister, fifth name on the ballot, passed away in April) and took the nomination with 56 percent of the votes.

But the Democratic field was even more crowded. Out of six candidates, the voters picked Walter Maddox, Mayor of Tuscaloosa, to represent their party. He won with 53 percent of the votes over Sue Bell Cobb, the former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, among others.  

Of the seven Districts, the GOP has control over six of them. In Districts 1, 3 and 6 GOP incumbents, Bradley Byrne, Mike Rogers and Gary Palmer respectively, are unopposed.

In District 2, the incumbent Martha Roby will face off with Bobby Bright, former Democratic U.S. Representative, now a Republican.

District 4 and 5 each had two GOP candidates. Robert Aderholt, the incumbent, won District 4 with overwhelming 81.5 percent of the votes, while District 5 also went to the incumbent, Mo Brooks, who won over Clayton Hinchman by margin of over 22 percent of the votes.

The GOP didn’t have a candidate in the District 7, where the Democratic Incumbent, Terri Sewell, ran unopposed.

Districts 1, 2, 3 and 4 had two Democratic candidates each, while in District 5 Peter Joffrion ran uncontested after Butler Cain dropped out of the race in February. District 6 saw Danner Kline also run uncontested.

Robert Kennedy, Tabitha Isner, Mallory Hagan and Lee Auman won Districts 1, 2, 3 and 4, respectively in the Democratic primaries.

WHO’S NEXT ?

Next in line are primaries in Virginia and South Carolina on June 12,

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KENTUCKY

Kentuckians were next in line to cast their ballots in Tuesday’s (May 22) primaries. All six Congressional districts were up for grabs and both parties had candidates running in all of them. GOP politicians currently fill five of the Congressional seats.

Rep. John Yarmuth is the only Democratic Incumbent who will be defending his seat on November 6. He was uncontested in yesterday’s primaries.

On the other side of the aisle, districts 1,2 and 4 also saw uncontested incumbents, with James Comer, Brett Guthrie and Thomas Massie respectively getting ready to defend their seats in November general elections.

In the third District, the GOP voters chose Vickie Yates Glisson to run against John Yarmuth. Glisson has experience in public service as secretary of the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services. She was appointed to the post in 2015 by Governor Matt Bevin.

District 5 incumbent, the “Prince of Pork” Hal Rogers won against Gerardo Serrano by a landslide, getting 84 percent of the votes.

Rogers earned his nickname by bringing a lot of controversial investments to his District, like prisons, with another one on the horizon to be the most expensive prison built in the history of the United States. Yet, some of the counties he represents remain consistently among the poorest in the country. He’s been in office as the fifth District’s Representative since 1981.

In District 6, the GOP incumbent Andy Barr faced off with Chuck Eddy and won with almost 84 percent of the votes. He will face Amy McGrath, a marine fighter jet veteran, who defeated Lexington’s Mayor, Jim Gray, and State Senator Reggie Thomas.

Here are winners of the Democratic primaries:

District1: Paul Walker

District 2: Hank Linderman

District 3: John Yarmuth

District 4: Seth Hall

District 5: Kenneth Stepp

District 6: Amy McGrath

GEORGIA

In Georgia, voters picked candidates for all 14 Congressional Districts, State Legislature, the Governor and several other public offices.

In Appalachian Congressional 3, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, and 14 districts all GOP candidates were incumbents, and won their respective races. In District 13 Incumbent David Scott run uncontested on the Democratic side.

In the third District, Drew Ferguson defeated Philip Singleton with an overwhelming 74.4 percent of the votes. District 10 went to Jody B. Hice who defeated two other opponents with almost 79 percent of the votes.

Karen Handel and Robert Woodall won GOP primaries in District 6 and 7, respectively. Handel run uncontested, while Woodall won easily, getting almost 72 percent of the votes.

Lucy McBath and Kevin Abel in District 6 and Carolyn Bordeaux and David Kim in District 7 qualified for the runoffs in the Democratic races.

Districts 9 and 11 saw republicans Doug Collins and Barry Loudermilk take the nominations after uncontested races.

Democrats will see Chuck Enderlin running as the third District candidate, Josh Mccall in the District 9, Tabitha Johnson-Green in District 10, Flynn Brody in District 11, David Scot and Steven Foster in District 14. Brody and Foster run uncontested.

In the Governor’s race primaries the Democrats elected Stacey Abrams to be the candidate in November, while on the GOP side Casey Cagle will face off with Brian Kemp in June 24 runoff. Abrams is the first African American major party nominee for Governor in the history of the United States.

WHO’S NEXT ?

Next in line are primaries in Mississippi and Alabama on June 5 and Virginia and South Carolina on June 12,  

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Pennsylvania’s Tuesday primaries were another highly anticipated, bellwether political event this year, ahead of the November 6 midterm elections.

Primaries took place after highly controversial Supreme Court ruling in January of this year that ordered a redrawing of the state’s 18 congressional districts. The new districts, previously shaped by Republican gerrymandering efforts, were intended to result in more balanced race. (Here’s the New York Times detailed map of the new districts.)

Republicans’ hopes were somewhat restored on  Tuesday following a blow during the March special elections in Pennsylvania’s 17th District, where Democrat Conor Lamb defeated Rick Saccone. The majority of the GOP winners this week were endorsed, strong pro-Trump candidates.

Rick Saccone took a second shot at elections, taking on the State Senator Guy Reschenthaler in the redrawn 14th District. Saccone repeated his March failure and lost to favored Reschenthaler by over 10 percent of the votes.

In the Senate primaries, the Democrat Bob Casey Jr. ran unopposed, while on the Republican side, Lou Barletta won the race against Jim Christiana, securing a victory with 63 percent of the votes.  Barletta was endorsed early on by the President Trump, who, soon after the results were called, congratulated him on twitter.

Democratic Governor, Tim Wolf will face off with Scott Wagner after defeating two opponents, Paul Mango and Laura Ellsworth by comfortable margins of around 7.5 and 25.5 percent respectively.

Results in Pennsylvania’s Appalachian Congressional Districts:

DISTRICT DEMOCRATIC winner REPUBLICAN winner
7 Marty Nothstein (projected) Susan Wild
8 John Chrin Matt Cartwright (incumbent, uncontested)
9 Dan Meuser Denny Wolff
10 Scott Perry (incumbent, uncontested) George Scott (projected)
12 Tom Marino (incumbent) Marc Friedenberg (projected)
13 John Joyce Brent Ottaway (uncontested)
14 Guy Reschenthaler Bibiana Boerio
15 Glenn Thompson (incumbent, uncontested) Susan Boser
16 Mike Kelly (incumbent, uncontested) Ron DiNicola
17 Conor Lamb (incumbent, uncontested) Keith Rothfus (incumbent, uncontested)
18  Mike Doyle (incumbent)  —

 

Another fact that made the Pennsylvania’s primary stand out this year was a number of female candidates running–and winning–across all 18 districts.

In the 11 Appalachian districts three of the winners were female, while in all 18 districts, 8 women won their races. The current 115th Congress’ Pennsylvania caucus is all male.

WHO’S NEXT ?

Next in line are primaries in Georgia and Kentucky on May 22.

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First Wave of the Primaries – Roundup

 

This Tuesday (May 8, 2018) brought the first wave of primary elections before the House and Senate midterm elections on November 6.

Some of the highest profile races that grasped the attention of the national media took place in Appalachia: West Virginia, Ohio and North Carolina.

WEST VIRGINIA

Among the most anticipated and scrutinized races was the GOP Senate primary in West Virginia, where two mainstream Republican politicians, Patrick Morrisey (West Virginia Attorney General) and Evan Jenkins (Congressman from West Virginia’s 3rd Congressional District) faced off with an outsider, ex-coal baron and Massey Energy CEO, Don Blankenship, best known for serving a year in prison for his involvement in a tragic mining incident that left 29 miners killed.

Patrick Morrisey won the race, taking 35% of the votes. Jenkins came in second with 29% and Blankenship third with just under 20%.

In a rare instance of a top-to-bottom party unity, the entire GOP establishment came together to denounce Blankenship and urged West Virginia voters to reject the controversial candidate, whom President Trump portrayed as unable to defeat the Democratic incumbent, Sen. Joe Manchin III.

Manchin won his party’s primary with an overwhelming 70% percent of the votes, defeating challenger Paula Jean Swearengin.

The Democratic Primary race for the West Virginia’s U.S. House District 3 was another  highly anticipated race, where an unorthodox candidate, Richard Ojeda pulled off a landslide victory over his opponents, with over 50% of the votes. He will face Carol Miller, the winner of a much tighter GOP primary.

Richard Ojeda, a US Army veteran and a member of the West Virginia Senate, is an unconventional Democrat, whom many point out as the kind of candidate that the Democratic party might need to win back at least some of the West Virginia seats.

Most notably, Ojeda can boast the support of worker unions. Recently, he has shown support for West Virginia teachers striking across the state.

In West Virginia U.S. House Districts 1 and 2, the Democratic primaries were won by Kendra Fershee and Talley Sergent respectively. They will face GOP incumbents, David B. McKinley and Alex X. Mooney.

OHIO

In Ohio, a number of consequential primary races took place last night.

Richard Cordray celebrated a comfortable win over Dennis Kucinich in the Democratic Senate primary, earning over 60% of the votes to Kucinich’s 20%. Cordray, the first director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, will face Republican Mike DeWine, Ohio’s Attorney General and a former U.S. Senator.

DeWine defeated Mary Taylor with an almost 20% lead.

GOP voters had a chance to vote for their candidate to the U.S. Senate and picked Rep. Jim Renacci (R-OH 16). He will run against the Democratic incumbent, Sen. Sherrod Brown. It was Brown who unseated current GOP’s governor candidate Mike DeWine in 2007. Renacci was endorsed by President Trump and will be at the frontlines of a contest over what is perceived as part of a lost Democratic territory.

Ohioans voted for candidates in all 16 U.S. House Districts. Here are the detailed results compiled by the New York Times.

Ohio voters also voted in support of Issue 1, a bipartisan proposal to change the rules for redistricting in Ohio. The bipartisan proposal is an attempt to fix the process, which has a long and scandalous history in the state. It was approved with an overwhelming support of almost 75% of the votes.

NORTH CAROLINA

In North Carolina voters picked candidates for all 13 U.S. House Districts. Some races, like District 1, had uncontested candidates on both sides of the aisle. Others, like District 2 Democratic primary, where Linda Coleman took the victory over Ken Romley, or District 9 GOP race, where Mark Harris narrowly defeated the incumbent Robert Pittenger, turned out to be slightly more competitive.

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Ohio Valley Outlook: Expect a Slower Regional Economy in 2020

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Photo: Becca Schimmel/Ohio Valley ReSource
Photo: Becca Schimmel/Ohio Valley ReSource

This piece was originally published by Ohio Valley ReSource.

The Ohio Valley’s economy could see slower growth in 2020 amid continued anxiety about trade, and possible downturns in both energy and manufacturing, according to analyses and forecasts by regional economists.

Michael Hicks directs the Center for Business and Economic Research at Ball State University in Indiana where he forecasts the health of the manufacturing sector. Hicks expects manufacturing to slow down, and he blames the tariffs levied under President Donald Trump’s administration. Hicks said the costs imposed by the trade war are playing out in markets across the region and he predicts the Ohio Valley’s economic growth to slow dramatically in 2020.

“You will see layoffs certainly, lower hours, less generous bonuses both this year and next year, less demand for power which is going to be important particularly in Kentucky and West Virginia, as manufacturing firms both use less metallurgical coal and less coal for electrical power,” Hicks said.

‘One tweet away’

A report Hicks co-authored shows the impact of manufacturing employment on the overall health of the United States economy has diminished. Production is still a large share of the economy. But, he said, the economies of Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia are heavily dependent on exports, which is why the trade war has and will continue to have a large impact.

Alexandra Kanik/Ohio Valley ReSource

The Trump administration has made some recent moves to improve trade relations. The United States Mexico Canada Agreement or, USMCA, would replace the North American Free Trade Agreement or, NAFTA. USMCA has passed the House and is still pending in the Senate. But Hicks said that trade deal doesn’t offer much assurance.

“The USMCA passage is essentially for your typical manufacturing firm it improves the confidence that we’re not going to have a trade war with our big partners in Canada and Mexico,” Hicks said. “But to just speak candidly, we’re always one tweet away from a new adversary in the trade war.”

He said if European firms are less interested in buying higher-priced American products it’s enough to cause a significant decline in the demand for goods produced in the U.S. Hicks said that could have a bigger effect in the region than in the country as a whole.

“Which is enough to push Kentucky and West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois into a localized recession,” he said. “It’s not enough for a national recession, but it’s enough to give us the feel and taste of what a recession would be like.”

Of the three states, Ohio’s larger economy is also more diverse and follows national trends more closely. Zach Schiller is an economist with Policy Matters Ohio, an economic research institute.

“Ohio is not an island, you know, our economy is closely integrated into the national and international economies,” Schiller said.

Schiller said the largest employers in Ohio are either national or international companies and he expects any change in the state’s economy to be similar to what happens nationally.

Still Recovering

In Kentucky, manufacturing plays a significant role in the state’s economy. Jason Bailey director the left-leaning Kentucky Center for Economic Policy. He said manufacturing has grown in large part because of the auto industry, but carmakers are seeing a slowdown.

“We’ve lost a lot of manufacturing over the last couple decades across the state and industries like apparel or furniture manufacturing or computer parts manufacturing, that has often been to cheaper locations like China and in Latin America,” Bailey said.

Bailey said Kentucky still hasn’t fully recovered from the last recession and it’s facing a tough year ahead with state budget cuts likely.

West Virginia is in a similar position with even fewer signs of economic recovery. West Virginia University’s College of Business and Economics is predicting the economy will expand by about point two percent annually for the next five years. The Executive Director of the left-leaning West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy Ted Boettner said that’s the lowest growth rate WVU has predicted for the state in the past seven years.

“You know since our last economic recession that began in 2007, West Virginia has seen less than a 1 percent increase in job growth over that time,” Boettner said.

Pipeline stacked in Morgantown, West Virginia. Photo by: Larry Dowling/West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Boettner said the state’s economy has always been on a “roller coaster ride” based on energy markets. The downturn in coal has hit hard, of course, but that was somewhat offset recently by a boost from natural gas and pipeline construction work. Now, however, one major pipeline project is complete and some others have been halted by legal challenges. Boettner said that focus on natural resource extraction can hamper other kinds of growth.

“A lot of other industries, especially ones based in the knowledge-based economy don’t really want to be around extractive industries,” Boettner said. “They don’t want to be around a lot of pollution, and things like that. So you really are choosing one over the other in some sense.”

Boettner said the state has never had big urban centers to build a diversified economy around, but he thinks investment in education could help with that.

“I mean, unfortunately, it’s gotten to the point where I think the only way that West Virginia is going to really thrive, potentially thrive, over the coming decades will be unless there’s massive federal investment in the state,” he said.

Deficits Despite Growth 

The U.S. is in the longest period of economic recovery in modern history. Hicks said normally that would mean the country would be running a budget surplus and could start paying off debt or taking on big projects.

“We would have made some long term investments in infrastructure, highways, roads, particularly with transfers to local governments that are, you know, facing a lot of aging infrastructure,” Hicks said.

Instead, Hicks said, the federal budget has a deficit of more than a trillion dollars after tax cuts and what he calls unsustainable federal spending, including the trade bailouts for farmers. And he said those economic policies are not having the degree of stimulus they should, largely because of the negative effects of the trade war.

A report from Ball State notes the Trump administration’s 2018 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was meant to spur private, non-residential investment. But whatever effect could have been expected was muted by a similarly large tax increase due to tariffs associated with the trade war.

“We are running a budget deficit of $1.1 trillion, which is considerably more than the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009,” Hicks said. “That was Obama’s large stimulus package passed in February 2009. That was only $856 billion”

As economists across the region watch for signs of the next recession, they also look to infrastructure investment as an area for potential growth. The Ohio Valley has massive funding needs for its roads, broadband internet access, and aging water systems.

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Fact-check: Is Jim Justice the First West Virginia Governor to Fight For Teacher Pay Raises?

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Teachers celebrate after West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice and Senate Republicans announced they reached a tentative deal to end a statewide teachers' strike by giving them 5 percent raises in Charleston, W.Va., Tuesday, March 6, 2018. Photo: Robert Ray/AP
Teachers celebrate after West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice and Senate Republicans announced they reached a tentative deal to end a statewide teachers' strike by giving them 5 percent raises in Charleston, W.Va., Tuesday, March 6, 2018. Photo: Robert Ray/AP Photo

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, facing a competitive Republican primary in 2020, recently introduced an ad touting his accomplishments in office, including a focus on K-12 education.

The ad, released in a Dec. 4 tweet, features several West Virginians reading off a series of scripted accomplishments from Justice’s tenure. One of the accomplishments, voiced by a teacher, is that “Jim Justice is the first West Virginia governor to fight for pay raises for educators.”

This struck us as odd since governors of all parties regularly tout their support for teachers — a group that’s popular with voters and, in many states, a politically powerful constituency.

Teacher salaries have been an especially sensitive issue in West Virginia. Between 2005 and 2017, West Virginia teacher salaries never rose higher than 44th in the nation. That history set the stage for a 2018 teacher strike in West Virginia, which was the state’s first major K-12 walkout in almost three decades. Justice eventually signed a 5 percent pay bump, which is more than the legislature had offered prior to the strike.

So is Justice really the first West Virginia governor ever to push for teacher pay raises? His office did not respond to inquiries for this article, but we found that each of Justice’s five immediate predecessors either proposed or enacted teacher pay raises.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, Democrat, 2011-2017

In his first state of the state address in 2011, Tomblin proposed a one-time, across-the-board $800 increase for teachers. “Frankly, it should be more and we need to strive for a day when our teachers are paid at a rate equivalent to the most important role they play,” he said in the speech, according to the Associated Press.

In 2014, despite offering few increases in his relatively austere budget proposal, Tomblin did include a 2 percent pay raise for teachers. The bill he eventually signed contained a $1,000 raise for teachers for the 2014-2015 school year. 

Gov. Joe Manchin, Democrat, 2005-2010

As governor, Manchin — now a U.S. Senator — periodically sparred with teachers’ unions over the size of his salary increase proposals. But both Manchin’s Senate office and West Virginia teachers’ unions agree that he proposed a teacher salary increase and signed it into law.

During his tenure, Manchin raised teacher salaries by 3.5 percent, according to a joint statement released by the West Virginia Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers-West Virginia, and the West Virginia School Service Personnel Association when the groups endorsed Manchin’s Senate reelection bid in 2018. Manchin’s Senate office cited the same 3.5 percent increase when we inquired.

The legislation Manchin signed also improved teachers’ annual salary increments and allowed educators to move from a 401(k)-style defined contribution plans to a defined-benefit system.

Gov. Bob Wise, Democrat, 2001-2005

In his 2001 state of the state address, Wise proposed raising teacher salaries by $1,000, plus $2,500 in incentives. “Teachers are the heart of the educational system. We must honor the work of our teachers,” he said.

After leaving the governor’s office, Wise became CEO of the Alliance for Excellent Education, an education advocacy group.

Gov. Cecil Underwood, Republican, 1997-2001

In his 1998 state of the state address, Underwood proposed giving teachers a $750 pay raise. He signed a three-year pay raise into law later that year.

Gov. Gaston Caperton, Democrat, 1989-1997

Caperton was governor during a divisive, 11-day West Virginia teacher strike in 1990, but he ended up presiding over a significant pay increase for the state’s teachers. The strike was settled when all parties agreed on a $5,000 pay increase phased in over three years.

Last year, PolitiFact reported that most significant recent improvement in West Virginia teacher pay compared to other states came between 1990 and 2000, a period during which Caperton and Underwood were in office.

Like Wise, Caperton headed an education group — the College Board — after serving as governor.

Our ruling 

Justice’s ad said he’s “the first West Virginia governor to fight for pay raises for educators.”

That’s far off-base. Seeking pay raises for teachers is practically a rite of passage for governors, and West Virginia is no exception. Not one, not two, but each of Justice’s five most recent predecessors — Tomblin, Manchin, Wise, Underwood and Caperton — either proposed a teacher pay raise, signed one into law or both. We rate the statement Pants on Fire!

This article was originally published by PolitiFact.

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