WV: Wise weighs in against Oliverio
- Wise weighs in against Monongalia candidate
Monday May 6, 2002
By The Associated Press
MORGANTOWN - A year ago, Sen. Mike Oliverio was battling the
governor's office over its plan to legalize video poker in West
Now the Monongalia County Democrat and Gov. Bob Wise are squaring off
again, but under different circumstances and with Oliverio's
political future on the line.
Miffed at Oliverio's vocal opposition to video poker, Wise has made
it clear who he favors in the May 14 Democratic primary for
Oliverio's 13th District Senate seat - Delegate Charlene Marshall, D-
"Senator Oliverio has been no help to our agenda,'' Wise said in a
recent interview. "Charlene Marshall would be an excellent state
Just like last year, Oliverio has no intention of rolling over, even
if it might be more politically beneficial.
"I think it's important for people in the district to have
legislators that are independent, that aren't necessarily tied to a
governor,'' he said.
"I think legislators should stand on their own merits. That's the way
I'm approaching this election. I'm standing on my own merits, not on
the merits of others.''
The Oliverio-Marshall race is one of several key races Wise and
legislative leaders are eyeing closely. While many legislators face
little or no opposition in the primary and can expect to skate to
victory in November, a few battles could shake up things in both
Marshall, a former Morgantown mayor in her second term in the House,
is rallying behind the support of teachers' unions and Wise while
stressing her intention to put more focus on labor issues in the
Oliverio, who has spent the last eight years in the Senate seat, is
touting his business and health care endorsements and the importance
of maintaining stability so the district can benefit from a more
prestigious spot in Senate leadership.
"Seniority in the process is extremely important,'' Oliverio said
while sitting in a restaurant across the street from his campaign
office in downtown Morgantown.
But Wise's influence, whether obvious or subtle, could play a big
role in that race and others, legislative leaders say.
"That helps a lot to have the governor on your side in an election,''
said Senate Majority Whip Billy Wayne Bailey, D-Wyoming.
Candidates are touting many of the same issues that dominated this
year's legislative session - improving education and health-care
availability, rehabbing the state's tax system and economy, keeping
more residents here and attracting people from out of state.
Leaders say lawmakers seeking re-election shouldn't have much to
"It's a good year for incumbents,'' Bailey said. "I don't see any
real groundswell of everybody is so disheartened and disappointed in
how government's working.''
Still, some races promise to be compelling on Election Day.
In the 10th District, Mary Pearl Compton is giving up her leadership
role as chairwoman of the House Health and Human Resources Committee
to take on Sen. Leonard Anderson in the Democratic primary.
Although both are Democrats, the similarities stop there.
Anderson, a businessman from Summers County, has served the district
since 1990. He is backed by business and other conservative groups,
including abortion opponents.
Compton, a former teacher from Monroe County, has endorsements from
teachers and labor unions and supports abortion rights.
At a recent debate in Fairlea sponsored by a religious radio station,
Compton chided Anderson for not showing up. He said later he missed
it because of a scheduling snafu.
Compton also emphasized she fears raising weight limits for coal
trucks because of safety violations and adamantly opposes mixing
religion with state government - two important issues in the district.
"I don't want government in my religion,'' she said.
Other Senate races include a battle between Sen. Marie Redd and Evan
Jenkins, both Cabell County Democrats, for Redd's 5th District seat.
Redd, the state's first black senator, is backed by teachers' unions.
Jenkins, a former delegate, is backed by the doctors' organization he
runs - the state Medical Association.
Senate Majority Leader Truman Chafin, D-Mingo, is trying to ward off
a challenge from Diane Shafer, a Mingo County doctor, for his 6th
District seat. Delegate Tracy Dempsey, D-Lincoln, is fighting Dr. Ron
Stollings of Madison to replace retiring Senate Education Chairman
Lloyd Jackson, D-Lincoln, in the 7th District.
Senate Finance Chairman Oshel Craigo, D-Putnam, is being challenged
by Darrell Duane Gibson Jr. of Eleanor in the 4th District. Delegate
Randy White of Webster County is one of four Democrats vying to take
over in the 11th District for Mark Burnette, who agreed not to run
when legislators drew new districts last year.
In the House, 53 delegates running for re-election face challengers
in the primary.
That includes 26 Democrats and 16 Republicans running for 11 Kanawha
County seats, nine Democrats and five Republicans running for five
seats from Raleigh and Summers counties and 12 Democrats and four
Republicans running for four seats spanning Marion and Monongalia
All together, 309 residents are vying for 117 Senate and House seats.