(11/04/2002)
By Bob Weaver

National pollsters are predicting an all-time low voter turnout for Tuesday's off-year election, likely to hold true in West Virginia.

Meanwhile, political organizations and special interest groups may be breaking records on campaign spending in West Virginia.

Former Governor Arch Moore appeared at a Republican dinner in Elizabeth Saturday evening, after his daughter Congresswoman Shelly Moore Capito could not attend. Moore praised his daughter for her dedicated efforts to West Virginia. (See Hur Herald story and pictures)

Calhoun's Democratic Executive Committee is making an all-out effort to get voters to the polls. Voters needing a ride may call 655-8550 on election day. "It is important for Democrats to get out and vote this year," said Democratic Chairperson Margie Evans. "There is much at stake, particularly in the Humphreys-Capito race."

Calhoun's Republican Chairman, Dan McDonald, said "We have some excellent candidates this year, and we expect them to do well."

The Capito-Humphreys race for Congress has already spent the most of any congressional district in the country, with Humphreys spending mostly his own money and other interests pumping dollars into the Capito campaign. The total cost will likely exceed $10 million.

At stake, political power in the U. S. House of Representatives.

Most voters were unable to articulate the policies or issues presented by the two candidates. They just like Capito better. Humphreys supporters say Capito is good at blurring the issues, like the Republicans plan to partially privatize Social Security, like allowing young workers to invest public funds in private accounts.

Older Americans, according to the surveys, are wary about tampering with the Social Security fund, particularly with the multi-billion dollar raid on the pockets of Americans by large corporations like Enron and World.Com.

Humphreys railed about a dishonest ad which was used by Capito on TV and in thousands of mailers in Kanawha County this past week. The ad said Humphreys violated an employees medical privacy. A Kanawha County judge ruled a year ago Humphreys' law firm was not guilty. The Republican National Committee, which has purchased over a million dollars worth of ads, apologized for the mistake, saying they regretted the error.

With lots of negative ads in the Capito-Humphreys race, the polls indicate they are hurting Humphreys the most.

Politically powerful Sen. Oshel Craigo is surprisingly in a tight race with Republican challenger Lisa Smith, and other West Virginia polls indicate Capito is well ahead of Humphreys. Humphrey's campaign says the polls are not scientific, and do not reflect the will of the voters.

The ongoing debate on medical malpractice in West Virginia has inspired health care interests and lawyers to invest more money in campaigns for the legislature.

Nearly $6 million is already reported spent on West Virginia's legislative races.

In what may be a somewhat close race, Hardware store owner Rick Sampson (Democrat) is challenging incumbent David Barr (Republican). Sampson should win the race with the Democrat voter edge in the county, but Barr has run well with Democrat support before.

The local library levy has been underwritten this time by the Calhoun County Board of Education, and requires a simple majority to pass. The levy has failed in the past, almost but not quite receiving 60%. The tax levy means a small increase for most county taxpayers, the equivalent cost of a loaf of bread and a gallon of milk. County Clerk Richard Kirby has advised voters to "turn the ballot over" to vote on amendments and options.

After a few initial letters to the editor, the silence has been deafening about a proposed retail liquor store in Lee District. Calhoun is the last of West Virginia's 55 counties to approve the sale of retail liquor. Fred and Pat Jarvis used a local option rule to have voters in Lee District only to vote on the proposal. An earlier retail liquor initiative was soundly defeated about ten years ago.

Amendment One and Two could be in trouble, according to the polls, because voters don't understand them. Both would support local efforts (county/city) toward economic development, and some voters fear they could raise taxes, with supporters saying they will not.

The Herald will publish local and regional election returns Tuesday night, as soon as they are available.


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