BECKLEY, W.Va. — Before taking the full plunge into their respective leadership roles, Republican elected officials made a stop at The Resort at Glade Springs on Thursday to meet with area leaders on the upcoming lawmaking sessions.
Perhaps it was only Delegate John O’Neal, R-Raleigh, the new Majority Whip, who years ago had predicted that Republicans would take over the majority in both chambers of the statehouse, but even he said it wouldn’t happen until 2016.
“I was wrong,” he said. “It happened in 2014.”
But it was Sen. Bill Cole, R- Mercer, the Senate President-elect, who made it happen, worked the districts where Democrats were entrenched and turned the statehouse red on election night.
Senator-elect Jeff Mullins, R-Raleigh, said Cole approached him to run against Democrat Mike Green. Mullins said he first said no, but was swayed by the list of Republicans Cole had lined up in other districts.
When Mullins — and other Cole-backed Republicans — won their districts in November, it left the Senate deadlocked between the two parties, 17-17.
“While the other guys were trying to decide how to share power,” Cole said, “a couple of us were figuring out how to take it.”
Cole said Sen. Daniel Hall, R-Wyoming, switched parties to put the Senate Republicans in control.
“It took a lot of courage to do what he did,” Cole remarked.
If area leaders were hoping for a glimpse into the Republican agenda, they were disappointed.
A coy Cole only vaguely outlined a pro-business, pro-jobs agenda that would “put West Virginians back to work.” He did, however, allow that prevailing wage would be on the chopping block, as the payroll requirements for government construction jobs “could build five schools” for what three cost…