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West Virginia stiff-arms ‘furriners’

BEING from West Virginia is wonderful.

People are friendly. The mountains are beautiful. The pace of life is about right.

Plus there are all forms of homegrown entertainment, like the Mystery Hole, "The Dancing Outlaw" Jesco White, flying your jet under the South Side Bridge and, of course, the West Virginia Legislature.

The mountains, our ways and our separatist history give us a sense of being unique.

So why wouldn't other people want to be West Virginians, too?

This was a theme running straight through the seemingly endless election cycle that we, miraculously, just ended.

Bill Maloney, a Republican candidate for governor, had to prove his West Virginia creds over and over even though he's lived here since 1981.

Maloney was born in Syracuse, N.Y. Ads by Democrats never let West Virginians forget.

It miffed Maloney's wife. Never miff someone's wife.

"Where did we choose to live and where did we choose to stay?" his wife, Sharon Maloney, told the Daily Mail's Ry Rivard.

I've met Bill Maloney a couple of times, and I like him. I think he's contributed to our state as a businessman and as a political figure. I'm sure he'd make a good neighbor. He'd probably let you borrow his lawn mower.

I would like to welcome him to our state and encourage him to keep staying here.

Then there's Patrick Morrisey, the Republican winner of our attorney general's race. His track record as a West Virginian is much shorter, a fact he doesn't deny.

Morrisey has lived in West Virginia since 2006. Before the election, he was living in Harpers Ferry and working in Washington at the global law firm of King & Spalding. He grew up in New Jersey, and he lost a bid for a congressional seat there in 2000.

His multi-state political career drew cracks from the campaign of his opponent, incumbent Darrell McGraw, whose name on his birth certificate almost certainly was preceded by the phrase "Lifelong West Virginian."

"He's going to have to respond to why he thinks he should be attorney general when he's never worked in West Virginia," longtime McGraw aide Fran Hughes told the Daily Mail as the election was heating up.

Now Morrisey has a job term of at least four years in West Virginia. Not everybody is pleased.

"Electing Patrick Morrisey is one of the dumbest things West Virginia voters could have done," wrote a commenter on the political blog "West Virginia Blue."

"We 'hillbillies' are such a gullible people. We are so easy to take advantage of."

Will Morrisey be a good West Virginian?

He will — if he takes his job seriously, treats people with decency and fairness, and runs through the drive-through at Tudor's Biscuit World every now and then.

If not, we get to vote him out in four years.

Distrust of "the other" isn't limited to politics.

There are more important matters in life.

Like football.

Dana Holgorsen, who is from places like Iowa, Texas and Oklahoma, is the head coach at West Virginia University. Does that make him a West Virginian?

Only if he starts winning again.  

Here's a comment I saw on Facebook the other day:

"I like Holgorsen — don't get me wrong but he is not a West Virginian by any means . . . He won't recruit in the state. When he could of went after one of the best kickers in high school last year he opted to give a scholarship to a kicker from Texas instead."

Hey, maybe the kicker can be a West Virginian now.

I love my state, but I wish we didn't have this level of distrust. What's the message we're sending?

"You're not welcome here."

That's not the West Virginia I know and love.

I'd rather welcome a person who was unfortunate enough to grow up somewhere else.

You've heard of brain drain?

I prefer brain gain.

McElhinny is the Daily Mail's managing editor. He can be reached at 304-348-1703, at or @BradMcElhinny on Twitter.


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