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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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THE Democratic Party has held a majority in the House of Delegates since 1930. Minority Leader Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, is leading a campaign of 30 Republican incumbents and 52 new Republican challengers.

The message: The economy.

"We need to build our economy on a strong, stable foundation consisting of a fair electoral process, and an open, ethical government," Armstead told a rally at the Capitol recently.

Resting on this foundation, Armstead laid out what he called "the Four Walls of a stronger, more vibrant economy":

n a fair and competitive tax structure;

n a high-quality educational system;

n a predictable and just legal and regulatory process;

n a sound and modern infrastructure.

Armstead's positive message is the right approach. People know how things are. Voters want to know what Republicans would do to make things better.

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OUTSPENDING the resources of taxpayers by $1 trillion a year is unsustainable. With 62 percent of the federal budget now going to "entitlements," Washington must trim social spending.

As the Senate Budget Committee reported:

n 46.7 million Americans now receive food stamps — up from 19.1 million 10 years ago.

n The number of people on disability has risen by 7.6 percent since the end of 2008.

n The number of people on Medicaid has risen by 9.3 percent since the end of 2008.

n The number of people on food stamps has risen by 65.2 percent since the end of 2008.

n The number of people with jobs has gone down by 0.7 percent in that time.

The nation has 110 million people receiving checks and only 144 million people working to pay the taxes to fund these programs.

This cannot continue. The nation cannot prosper unless the economy can grow, and the books cannot be balanced without changing "entitlements."


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