According to his recollection, the caller asked, "'Would it make any difference to you in the election if you knew Bill Maloney had contributed to Democrat candidates in the past?'"
That's a reference to a report Friday afternoon in a Capitol Hill publication that Maloney had given money to Democratic candidates. Maloney defended those contributions by noting he has given far more money to Republicans than Democrats.
Howell said there was also a question about Ireland "offering big government solutions."
He thought it sounded like someone was doing polling for the tea party so he was surprised when the DGA was listed as the sponsor of the poll.
"To me it tells me that the Democrat Party is really scared of this upcoming gubernatorial election," he said.
On the Democratic side, the West Virginia AFL-CIO, which is backing House Speaker Rick Thompson, broke an earlier pledge to take the "high road" and not attack other Democrats. Instead, the union launched a TV ad attacking acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.
In April, AFL-CIO President Kenny Perdue said the union would not go negative.
"We have made a promise to ourselves that we've got a lot of friends in this election, and we will run a high-road campaign to make sure Rick wins," Perdue said at the time.
AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Larry Matheney said the union decided to go negative after mailings and ads from Tomblin's campaign suggested he was union-friendly and pro-worker.
"We did not want to be running a negative campaign; that was the last thing we wanted to do," Matheney said. "We did want to stay positive, but we felt when acting Gov. Tomblin's campaign painted themselves as being friends of working families and labor unions, he painted us in a box.
"I give acting Gov. Tomblin full credit for pushing us to a semi-negative position."
The ad says, "Acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin claims he supports working families -- now that's acting." That's a reference to Tomblin's job title. He has been serving as governor by virtue of being the Senate president since Joe Manchin left the office for the U.S. Senate.
The ad attacks the governor for cutting funds to a worker safety program by 90 percent. Tomblin did a line-item veto that reduced funds for a previously unfunded public worker safety program. But the Legislature approved only $400,000 for the program and Tomblin reduced it to less than $100,000 -- that's a 75 percent reduction, not a 90 percent reduction.
The ad also attacks Tomblin for signing a bill that gives $100 million over 10 years to casino operators to buy slot machines and upgrade casino floors. The ad doesn't mention the union's favored candidate, Thompson, also voted for the bill.
But the union does appear to be trying to interfere with efforts by Tomblin to align himself with union households. Tomblin's campaign has, for instance, sought to take credit for public employee pay raises that, at one point, he threatened to veto.
The Tomblin campaign did not respond to any specific criticism in the AFL-CIO's ad.
"We're disappointed that as the election draws closer, other candidates and third-party groups continue to make false personal attacks about Earl Ray Tomblin and his family," campaign spokesman Chris Stadelman said. "These attacks do not create any jobs and do not help move the state forward."
Contact writer Ry Rivard at ry.riv...@dailymail.com or 304-348-1796.