In last fall's Supreme Court race, incumbent Justice Robin Jean Davis spent $1.3 million and was re-elected. She loaned her campaign about half the money.
Her fellow Democrat, Tish Chafin, loaned her campaign $1 million and spent $1.5 million - only to finish last behind Republicans Allen Loughry and Circuit Judge John Yoder.
Loughry accepted $363,000 from the state and spent $430,000 to win the seat. Yoder raised $38,000 and accepted no public financing.
While proponents of public financing point to Loughry's defeat of the big spender in the race, the fellow who spent the least also bested Chafin. Public financing may have tipped the election in favor of Loughry over Yoder.
The Daily Mail endorsed Davis and Loughry in the race, so this is not a matter of sour grapes. It is a matter of some importance.
It is not West Virginia politicians' job to manage public perception, much less to divert public money to candidates.
The electorate has proved itself perfectly capable of sorting out which high-dollar campaigns should succeed and which ones should not.
Public financing of political campaigns is a solution for an imaginary problem. Legislators ought to drop it.