In West Virginia politics, the unwritten rule most candidates live by is the assumption that they are pro-family. Almost every politician in the Mountain State, with the exception of a notable (and vocal) few, will profess to being pro-life because they know that West Virginians value preborn human life.
But the issue of marriage is a more tough one. On the democratic side, they walk a tight rope. They know that the national party platform seeks to redefine marriage and, needing national money to succeed in their campaigns, many democratic candidates just punt the issue, or take the, “if a court ever redefines it, I’ll do something” approach.
Republicans here are a bit better, but unless they’ve been running at the local level (delegate, state senate), there is usually a reluctance (not an unwillingness) to speak to the social issues, beyond declaring themselves to be “pro-life.” When it comes to marriage, if pressed, they will avow support for marriage as one man and one woman, but rarely does that issue make it to their web page or public comments.
Last week, conventional wisdom flew out the window.
Candidate for governor Bill Maloney threw down the political gauntlet to his opponents. With a crowded field, perhaps it was an effort to be noticed, but I do not think so. Instead, could it be that there is a politician that is allowing what he believes in his heart translate to his campaign rhetoric? We shall see.
Here’s what I’m talking about. Last week, Bill Maloney introduced his first campaign radio ad. Frankly, I hadn’t listened to it closely, but this morning I heard it playing on my alarm. As it hit the :40 mark, I heard through my waking stupor something about “life” and “traditional” marriage. If I could muster a thought at that point it was, “Did he just say that?”
You see, while I’ve known several candidates who privately profess to being pro-life, support marriage between one man and one woman, and wish to strengthen West Virginia’s families, few care to say so publicly, let alone nail it down as a plank in their political platform.
Listen for yourself (you can scrub ahead to the good part starting about about :40 in):
Did you catch that? Here’s what it said, “Bill Maloney will work to defend life, protect traditional marriage, and make West Virginia the most family-friendly state in America.”
Impressive rhetoric, but how does he stack up to the rest of the field?
Well, to prove my point, let’s review what the other “top-tier” candidates for governor are saying:
- Earl Ray Tomblin’s website talks a lot about jobs and taxes, even education, but nothing about social issues. He hasn’t even signed the, “Vote for Life” Pledge.
- John Perdue was among the first to sign the, “Vote for Life” Pledge, but doesn’t say a thing about life, marriage, or the family on his website. Instead, his, “Perdue Plan” laudably speaks of small businesses, utilities, education, marcelleus shale, and seniors.
- Betty Ireland makes the claim that her, “social and fiscal conservative values guide me everyday,” but then lists nothing defining what those social values might be. Beyond her signature on our “Vote for Life” Pledge, it’s hard to tell.
- Clark Barnes seems focused on tort reform and the second amendment.
- Rick Thompson, who has yet to sign our “Vote for Life” Pledge, positions himself quite similarly to John Perdue in terms of which issues he’s supporting.
- Natalie Tennant’s website provides very little useful information, even leaving out her endorsement by the abortion industry’s political fundraising arm, EMILY’s List.
- Mitch Carmichael, who I personally know to be quite conservative on nearly every issue, lists loads of conservative thoughts, but I’m hard-pressed to find even a throw-away statement on life or marriage. Though, in fairness, he did sign the “Vote for Life” Pledge.
- Jeff Kessler continues to perplex conservative democrats and frustrate the rest. He sponsors pro-life legislation, signs the, “Vote for Life” Pledge, but then puts front and center on his website his speech in favor of expanding West Virginia’s civil rights laws to include “sexual orientation and gender identity, whether actual or perceived.” In terms of family values, being for life and for measures that would undermine both religious liberty and marriage is truly a political oxymoron.
- And, finally, Mark Sorsaia makes a 6-point pledge to West Virginians, but none of them mention his support for life, marriage, or the family, even though he signed the “Vote for Life” Pledge.
Perhaps now you can see my surprise when I heard what I heard on the radio this morning. Not only does it appear Bill Maloney supports life, marriage, and the family — he paid a lot of money to produce and publish an ad that would tell 1.8 million West Virginians that he agrees with the vast majority of them on those issues.
It is our policy at the Family Policy Council of West Virginia not to endorse candidates for office – and this blog entry should in no way be construed as an endorsement for or against any candidate. Instead, it should be viewed as yet another way in which we provide you with information by which you may make an informed decision.
If life, marriage, and the family is important to you, then evaluate what candidates say and what they do (or have done). If you believe babies should be aborted, marriage redefined, and the family unit be undermined, by all means, find a candidate who supports that and vote for him or her.
In a political climate where conventional wisdom advises you to talk about jobs, jobs, jobs, the economy, and jobs again, it is refreshing to see one candidate taking the time to protect the lives of those who will work those jobs, support the marriages impacted by job creation, and encourage the family unit that fuels our economy.
About Jeremy Dys
Jeremy Dys is the FPCWV's President and General Counsel. In addition to his duties of providing strategic vision and leadership to the FPCWV, Dys is the chief lobbyist and spokesman. Dys is regularly featured in local, state, and national print, radio, and television outlets. He lives close to Charleston with his wife and growing family.