The calm before the election day storm
This is it, folks. No more countdowns. Tomorrow is Election Day. Polls up at 6:30 a.m. and close at 7:30 p.m.
If you’re reading this today (Monday), you have until the close of business to hand deliver your absentee ballot. Otherwise you need to drop that in the mail today. County clerks can accept absentee ballots until Monday, Nov. 9, but ONLY if they are postmarked by tomorrow, Tuesday, Nov. 3.
Honestly though, it doesn’t look like there is going to be very many absentee ballots outstanding when it is all said and done. As I write this column, more than 80 percent of people who requested absentee ballots have already cast their ballot. Early voting and absentee voting have already set state records. Turnout has been huge.
Final reminder: if you don’t know what your polling location is, go to GoVoteWV.com and you can find your polling location, look up sample ballots, and access other information, such as the multiple kinds of I.D. you’ll need at the polls.
It’s probably obvious, but I enjoy covering elections. But even us political junkies get worn down as the election drawls to a close.
One thing that always annoys me is the amount of junk candidates throw at the wall to see what sticks against the candidate they are running against. I have no issues with campaigns going negative, especially if they have the goods to back up the mud they’re slinging. But some things really take your breath away.
Take the curious case of state Sen. Mike Maroney, for example. The Republican radiologist from Marshall County is seeking a second term to the West Virginia Senate. He races a Democratic challenger in teacher Josh Gary.
Gary has run an aggressive campaign against Maroney, including using a pending court case against Maroney regarding a misdemeanor charge for soliciting a prostitute against the incumbent. We won’t adjudicate that case here or whether or not the case has been dragged out past the Nov. 3 election on purpose or not. But it’s a perfectly fine issues for someone to use in a campaign against an opponent, and voters will get to decide if that matters or not.
But the following I’m about to go into I have no idea if it is linked to the Gary campaign or not. But it seems apparent that the following incident was meant to tar Maroney with another negative story, but instead made the perpetrators look like the Keystone cops.
In short, a warrant for arrest was issued for Maroney last week out of the Pleasants County Magistrate Court. What on Earth for? Maroney’s campaign signs say “Dr. Mike Maroney,” but according to a state law that dates back to the 1930s and has never been used to charge someone before, anyone who puts either “Doctor” or “Dr.” on any document or sign or really anything MUST put the degree after the name.
In other words, because Maroney’s signs say “Dr. Mike Maroney” and not “Dr. Mike Maroney, M.D.,” he allegedly committed a misdemeanor that has between a $10 and $500 fine and can involve up to 12 months of jail time.
As I said, as near as my research can tell, no one has been charged with this before. I’m told the House Judiciary Committee at the Legislature has looked at this law and is considering repealing it during the next legislative session. A law review published in 2020 singled out this law as “archaic.”
Even more confusing is why officials in Pleasants County would even involve themselves. Pleasants County is in the 3rd Senatorial District, while Maroney represents the 2nd Senatorial District. Tyler and Ritchie counties — both in Maroney’s district — border Pleasants County. It makes sense you can find some Maroney signs around the area, but not many.
According to the criminal complaint, someone advised a Pleasants County Sheriff’s Department deputy about four signs in Pleasants County. From there, the deputy prepared a report and a magistrate signed off on the warrant. The charges have since been dismissed.
We don’t know who advised the deputy. We don’t know why the Sheriff’s Department pushed for the warrant. When I called them, they tried to act as if they didn’t know there even was a warrant. The magistrate has remained tight-lipped as to why he agreed to sign off on the warrant. When I first tried to get the warrant and report from the magistrate clerk, she tried to charge me $25 plus the cost of copying a four-page document and otherwise wouldn’t release any details.
It was only with the help of the St. Marys Oracle and publisher Jim McGoldrick that I was able to get ahold of the document. They have my thanks.
So, what was the goal? Was it to give a candidate already dealing with bad headlines from a legitimate criminal charge an additional negative headline? Was it a way to violate his bond and perp-walk him into a jail cell for violating the conditions of his release, which usually involves not committing additional crimes? Was this an enterprise by people who simply don’t like Maroney and prefer his opponent?
There are many unanswered questions still, but if this was an effort to throw something at the wall to see if would stick, did it work?
(Adams is the state government reporter for Ogden Newspapers. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)