County Republicans Seeks to ‘Turn Coal Country Red’ in 2012

WHEELING – The Ohio County Republican Party and Mountaineers for Responsible Government have joined forces to energize conservative voters and plan a late-October political rally 10 days before the Nov. 6 election.

The “Turn Coal Country Red” event is set for 2-5 p.m. Oct. 27 at Wheeling’s Heritage Port. GOP candidates for state and federal office in West Virginia are slated to appear, and each is to address a specific issue.

Gubernatorial candidate Bill Maloney will speak on coal; Rep. David B. McKinley, R-W.Va., job creation; attorney general candidate Patrick Morrisey, Medicare law; Senate candidate John Raese, the state of the economy; and Delegate Erikka Storch, R-Ohio, the steel industry.

A major musical entertainment act could headline the rally, but organizers are still seeking the funding needed for the event, said Elgine McArdle, chairwoman of the Ohio County Republican Party. She added they are looking to possible sponsors in Pennsylvania and Ohio – swing states this election year that border West Virginia.

“Our biggest problems is getting people out to vote,” McArdle said. “As an example, Bill Maloney had the votes in the Northern Panhandle to swing the race, but people didn’t vote” in last year’s special election for governor.

She fears voters supporting Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney might stay home this year as they assume their candidate will win West Virginia and the state’s five electoral votes. But this non-voting could affect other races, McArdle continued.

“Everybody wants to vote for president, but there are races at the state and local level that are just as important – or maybe more important, as these offices touch our lives daily,” she said.

Ohio County Republicans have had some recent differences with Mountaineers for Responsible for government – who describe themselves as mostly independent voters who are fiercely conservative. Local Republicans told the Mountaineers for Responsible Government earlier this summer they couldn’t participate in a public discussion about the proposed GOP platform unless they were registered as Republicans.

“But we are opposed to so much of the Democratic platform,” said Wilda Lee of Mountaineers for Responsible Government. “We’re probably the most conservative people.”

McArdle later appeared at a Mountaineers for Responsible Government meeting and apologized for prior misunderstandings. The two groups then decided to work together, she said.

Mike Carmosino, a member of Mountaineers for Responsible Government, said a mutual dislike of the policies of Democrat President Barack Obama brought the Republicans and independent conservatives together.

“We don’t agree on everything, but we can agree we can’t have another four years of Barack Obama,” he added.

The Ohio County Republican Party also is hosting the weekly “A Penny for Your Thoughts Series” throughout September and October. The following events featuring GOP candidates take place at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesdays at Artworks Around Town, 2200 Market St. in Center Wheeling.

– Wednesday – Brian Savilla, candidate for secretary of state; and Kent Leonhardt, candidate for state commissioner of agriculture.

– Sept. 19 – Patrick Morrisey, candidate for state attorney general; and Mike Hall, candidate for state treasurer.

– Sept. 26 – Joe Roxby and Desiree Lyonette, candidates for Ohio County magistrate; Worthy Paul, candidate for county prosecutor; and Sharon Zelkowski, Independent candidate for Ohio County assessor.

– Oct. 3 – John Raese, candidate for U.S. Senate.

– Oct. 10 – Rep. David B. McKinley, R-W.Va., candidate for Congress, 1st District.

– Oct. 24 – Delegate Erikka Storch, R-Ohio, candidate for state House of Delegates, 3rd District; and Patrick McGeehan, candidate for state Senate, 1st District.