THOMAS Peterffy was born in a hospital in Budapest during a Russian air raid in World War II. He grew up under socialism.
In 1965, at age 21, he emigrated to America. While working as an architectural draftsman, he volunteered to program a company computer.
That shaped his future. He went on to use his computer knowledge on Wall Street, buying a seat on the American Stock Exchange in 1977.
By day, he traded in stocks. By night, he wrote software. His innovations reduced the cost and improved the trading of stocks.
Today Peterffy is a billionaire five times over. This year, he is using some of his money to urge Americans to vote Republican. The video is on YouTube.
"I grew up in a socialist country, and I have seen what that does to people," his ad begins. "There is no hope, no freedom, no pride in achievement. The nation became poorer and poorer, and that's what I see happening here.
"As a young boy I was fantasizing about one day going to America, making a success of myself, the American dream.
"America's wealth comes from the efforts of people striving for success. Take away their incentive with bad-mouthing success and you take away the wealth that helps us take care of the needy."
Good advice, from someone who has been where America is headed and warns against going there.
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IN the last three presidential elections, West Virginians have gone Republican — but they have remained decidedly Democratic in state races.
But change has been coming for a long time.
Of the state's 1,230,585 registered voters, 51.9 percent are Democrats. That is down from 66.2 percent a mere 20 years ago.
In the 1992 primary, the state had 600,794 Democrats, 277,798 Republicans and 29,399 independents.
Since then, the West Virginia electorate has added roughly 38,000 Democrats, 75,000 Republicans and 185,000 independents — as well as almost 24,000 third-party voters.
In short, the state added 38,000 Democratic voters and 284,000 non-Democratic voters in 20 years.
Only one of the 11 statewide elected officials, Supreme Court Justice Brent Benjamin, is a Republican, but party registration changes should make Democrats nervous.
Eventually how West Virginians vote for president will align with how they vote for other offices.
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