Big-spending groups trying to keep status quo

An editorial from The Journal

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Independent liberal organizations are going all-out – both in spending and character assassination – in an attempt to keep Republicans from taking control of the West Virginia House of Delegates.

While they normally support Democrat candidates, their campaign this year is especially harsh, well-funded and comprehensive. It often uses mud-slinging advertising directed against Republican candidates for the House.

What do they know that West Virginia voters do not? Are they particularly anxious about the outcome of today’s elections because they have specific, concrete reasons for wanting Democrats in control of the House? Do the special interests have a particular legislative agenda they want to ensure is pushed through without Republican interference next year?

Recent history provides an idea of how much special interests – especially those defending Democrat candidates for the Legislature – have stepped up their spending. During the 2012 general election cycle, independent groups spent approximately $432,000 attempting to influence House of Delegates races in the general election.

Already this year, spending by those organizations on House races has topped $1.6 million. More cash may be in the pipeline.

One group backing Democrat candidates, Honest West Virginians, has spent nearly $600,000 – almost twice the total spent by all independent groups on House races in 2012 – trying to keep Republicans out of the House.

Another independent group fighting to keep Democrat control of the House, Protect West Virginia, is not even located in our state. Its headquarters is at 1401 K Street in Washington, D.C., in a neighborhood favored by big-bucks lobbyists.

Obviously, liberal coalitions do not want Republicans to take control of the House of Delegates for the first time in about 80 years. Democrat dominance in the Legislature has been good for special interests.

Again, however, liberal Democrats have faced challenges for control of the House before. What is it about this election that has caused them to pull out all the stops in spending money – and often, to abandon any restraint on mudslinging – to keep their majority?

West Virginians have been badly served by one-party control of the Legislature, with the Democrats in charge, for many decades. Doing something about that situation in general is good cause alone to vote for Republican candidates for the House of Delegates. If any other reason is needed, it can be in the form of suspicion about the specific, immediate agenda of independent groups trying to keep that from happening.

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