Arch Moore was good for West Virginia

An editorial from The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Former West Virginia Gov. Arch Moore, who died Wednesday, was a wonderful father and husband, according to his children. Friends and neighbors in Marshall County remember him as a concerned, effective advocate for their communities. Patriots think of the World War II heroism that earned him a Bronze Star and severe wounds.

But he was much more for one of his children, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va. Moore was an important political mentor and adviser to her. No doubt his counsel will be missed sorely.

Moore’s legacy is complex. No responsible summary of his life can exclude the fact he spent 33 months in a federal prison after pleading guilty to five felony charges in 1990. In later years, he maintained he was innocent, but the courts rejected his attempt to take back the guilty pleas.

Still, Moore’s life in public service was one of many achievements for West Virginia – and many lessons for those serving our state now and in the future.

One striking aspect of his career is that he found ways to get important things done even in the atmosphere of divided government which many observers today fear will result in gridlock.

Not once during Moore’s time in the U.S. House of Representatives, from 1957-69, did his Republican Party hold a majority in that body.

And during his terms as governor, from 1969-77 and again from 1985-89, Democrats had firm control of the Legislature.

Major improvements in public and higher education, highway construction and maintenance, and responsible state budgeting were made on Moore’s watch as governor. Those and other steps forward had to be made by convincing majority Democrats they were good ideas.

Somehow, he did.

Moore’s talent for getting things done in divided government, rather than merely waging battles against the opposition party, holds important lessons for Republicans and Democrats in both Charleston and Washington.

Were he still with us, those in leadership today might learn much from him about how to move the state and nation forward.

But his achievements – and the method in which he accomplished them – remain an example of what can be done.

Purely and simply, the state of West Virginia is better for having had Arch Moore as our governor.

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