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Don Surber: Mayor Danny Jones should not publicly back a Democrat

By Don Surber, Editorial writer/columnist

From the time he first ran for and became sheriff 30 years ago, Charleston Mayor Danny Jones never struck me as being particularly Republican.

Ditto former county and state education board member Priscilla Haden and City Councilman Tom Lane.

They and many other Republican operatives from the 1980s and 1990s oppose their party’s nominee for Congress.

That is understandable. Alex Mooney won the nomination by using the Tea Party playbook.

In the May primary, Jones supported Charlotte Lane in the Republican primary.

Mooney won the race fair and square. A good sport shakes hands with the winner and wishes him good luck. If you don’t like the guy, don’t vote for him in the fall.

Instead, Jones and the Old Guard are telling Mooney to get off their lawn. They are publicly rallying behind Democrat Nick Casey.

That’s hardly nice, nor is it nice to point out the record of the Old Guard. But I will.

Under the Old Guard of the Republicans, the Legislature became deep dark blue, much to the detriment of a state that needs a vibrant, two-party system of government.

At one point, Donna Boley was the only Republican in the state Senate.

Maybe Jones and the Old Guard like failure. In a recent column in the Gazette, Jones took a cheap shot at House Republican Leader Tim Armstead.

That really ticked me off.

Armstead is a good guy who has worked harder for the state than any other legislator.

As leader of House Republicans, Armstead has helped recruit dozens of good candidates. He also worked hard to get the single-member districts that better represent the people.

The Armstead generation has given Republicans their largest delegation in the House since 1932. He could be the House speaker in January.

And there is Danny Jones telling him to get of his lawn.

Ronald Reagan would not approve of Jones sniping at Armstead or trying to stop Mooney.

In 1966, when Reagan first ran for governor of California, the Old Guard attacked him so viciously that Reagan adopted the Eleventh Commandment.

“The personal attacks against me during the primary finally became so heavy that the state Republican chairman, Gaylord Parkinson, postulated what he called the Eleventh Commandment: Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican. It’s a rule I followed during that campaign and have ever since,” Reagan wrote in his autobiography in 1990.

For a Republican, Jones sure has added taxes as mayor, most notably the user fee and the sales tax.

On his watch, city spending has soared to record levels. In the last decade alone, Charleston’s budget rose by 47 percent.

The city of Charleston’s budget is now $88 million, nearly double that of Huntington, which is the same size.

For every dollar Steve Williams spends as mayor of Huntington, Jones spends two. Maybe the citizens of Charleston should ask Williams to quit spending so much money.

Charleston’s problems stem from city’s pension plans, which are the most under-funded municipal plans in the nation, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts. Even Detroit is not as bad off as Charleston.

The city needs legislative help to improve that situation.

Publicly mocking the man who may be the next House speaker is an indulgence that the mayor cannot afford. Come January, Jones may need Armstead more than Armstead needs Jones.

Jones and the rest have every right to back Nick Casey, publicly or privately. I defend their right to tell whippersnappers to get off their lawn.

But attacking the person who defeated their candidate in the primary makes them look like small. Someone should call the Old Guard on that.

I am.

For it’s my lawn, too.


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