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Jim Justice jumps on the Moore Capito campaign. How much does it help?

Republican gubernatorial candidate Moore Capito has picked up momentum, but will it be enough to win the nomination?  He has had a couple positive developments in recent days.

First, the MetroNews West Virginia Poll showed that Capito was within two points of frontrunner Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (31 percent to 29 percent).*

Then Governor Jim Justice, who is running for the U.S. Senate, announced his endorsement of Capito.

Often the value of endorsements is questionable. However, there are two individuals whose approval has the potential to mean something in a West Virginia political race—Donald Trump and Jim Justice.

The value of Trump’s imprimatur in this state self-evident.  The former president has carried the state by huge margins in the last two elections, and he will do so again this year.  Republican candidates throughout the state are falling over themselves to show voters they stand with Trump.

Justice does not enjoy the same level of political devotion as Trump, but he is extremely popular.  For example, in the most recent MetroNews-West Virginia Poll, Justice had a 42 point lead over Rep. Alex Mooney in the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate (66 percent to 24 percent).   Justice’s expansive lead extends through all Republican demographics.   National surveys consistently rank Justice among the most popular governors in the country.

Will that translate into votes for Moore Capito?  Justice’s endorsement of Rep. David McKinley did not help much.  Mooney defeated McKinley by nearly 20 points (54 percent to 36 percent).

But that endorsement came three months before the election, and I do not recall Justice getting out on the stump for McKinley.  Justice’s backing may have faded in voters’ minds by the time of the election.

And I am told that Justice will be campaigning for and with Capito.  There is talk of joint appearances.  Justice hinted at that in his endorsement announcement when he said he would support Capito “in every way,” and suggested that he and Capito would be part of a team.

Do not forget that Moore Capito’s mother, Republican Senator Shelley Moore Capito, stood with Justice when Justice announced his run for the Senate.  Senator Capito typically does not pick a side in the Primary, but she did this time and Justice has not forgotten that.

This backing will benefit Capito most among undecided voters.  Our poll showed ten percent of the likely Republican Primary voters have not yet picked a candidate.  A voter who is unsure could be swayed by Justice’s support, and that would be meaningful in a close race.

But this race is still a tossup.  Patrick Morrisey’s support is holding steady; he just needs to grow his lead a bit.  Chris Miller remains the wildcard with deep pockets and provocative ads. Mac Warner is short on cash, but he makes a compelling case for conservatives and veterans.

This feels like what runners say about a 26-mile marathon; you run the first 20 miles and then the second half of the race.  This race for the Republican nomination for governor has been underway since last year, but the final three weeks will decide the outcome.





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Photo gallery: Marshall football wraps up spring practice with Green-White game

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Marshall put its finishing touches on spring practice Saturday with the annual Green-White game inside Joan C. Edwards Stadium.

(Photos by Angie Shockley)

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Photo gallery: Martinsburg defeats Jefferson County, 23-4

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Photo gallery from Martinsburg’s 23-4 win over Jefferson County.

(Photo gallery courtesy of Christopher C. Davis/@EP_BigCameraGuy)

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Spring Mills gets strong start from Montgomery, blows by University, 10-1

GRANVILLE, W.Va. — When Spring Mills pitcher Brandon Montgomery found himself in trouble Saturday against University, he found his way out of it.

Eventually, Montgomery got to a point where his rhythm and ability to throw strikes prevented any trouble, and the Cardinals scored four runs in the fifth to open a comfortable lead in their 10-1 victory against the Hawks at Kendrick Family Ballpark.

Spring Mills (7-15) played University (10-12) within an hour of suffering a loss across town to Wheeling Park at Dale Miller Field. Montgomery’s performance enabled them to refocus, as did patience at the plate that helped result in the Cardinals drawing 10 walks in the win.

“We talk about adversity, and we were just kind of going to throw and go, and see what happens,” Spring Mills head coach Bradley Barrett said. “It’s beautiful out here, a great complex and our guys were excited. This is a great win for us.”

After a one-out double from Montgomery in the top of the second inning, the Cardinals produced the game’s first run on a UHS error. 

The Hawks’ Riley Anderson was caught stealing third base to end the home half of the second, and SMHS added to its lead in the third on a two-out, run-scoring single to shortstop off the bat of Aiden Eichelberger.

UHS drew consecutive walks to start the third, but just as it appeared Montgomery was perhaps losing control of the strike zone, he inducted three straight fly ball outs and kept the Hawks from scoring.

“Our approach wasn’t great tonight,” UHS head coach Brad Comport said. “Obviously credit their pitcher and he threw a ton of strikes, but we did nothing to put any pressure on their defense and when did have runners in scoring position, we didn’t capitalize.”

In the fourth, Spring Mills got a two-out, two-run single from Rylan Swartz after a University error an at bat earlier prolonged the inning.

The Hawks cut their deficit to 4-1 in the home half of the fourth on a Colson Jenkins sacrifice fly to right, which allowed Mason Chaney to score from third.

Any momentum from scoring was short-lived for the Hawks.

In the fifth, the Cardinals got a run-scoring single from Bradley Butts for their fifth run, then added three more in the frame on Wysocki’s bases loaded walk, a JP Sweeney infield single and a sacrifice fly from Swartz as part of a four-run fifth that allowed them to lead, 8-1.

“These guys are resilient and we talk about it all the time,” Barrett said. “Have to clear your head and we had to play in 30 minutes, so had to figure it out.”

Montgomery would go on to face 10 batters over the final three innings, surrounding a single to Mason McDonald in the fifth, as well as one to Max Cash in the sixth, though he was thrown out at second attempting to stretch it into a double.

“It’s a game of momentum and we didn’t execute with runners in scoring position early on,” Comport said. “They did and they capitalized on their opportunities and ultimately, we weren’t able to make it a game.”

In the seventh, Eichelberger had his second run-scoring single and the Cardianls tacked on their 10th and final run courtesy of a wild pitch.

Montgomery allowed just the two singles in what amounted to a dominant showing.

“We have a young team with two seniors and he is our rock,” Barrett said. “He’s our guy and our big leader. He went out there and did his job.”

McDonald, the first of three Hawks’ pitchers utilized, suffered the loss.

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Photo gallery: Martinsburg defeats Spring Mills, 8-7

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Photo gallery from Martinsburg’s 8-7 win over Spring Mills.

(Photo gallery courtesy of Christopher C. Davis/@EP_BigCameraGuy)

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Stavrakis’ sharp outing keys Bridgeport to 3-0 victory against Jefferson

GRANVILLE, W.Va. — Offense was at a premium Saturday afternoon in a clash between two of the state’s premier baseball programs in Bridgeport and Jefferson.

In turn, every mistake was magnified at Kendrick Family Ballpark.

Fortunately for the Tribe, starting pitcher Jacob Stavrakis made few, if any, while holding Jefferson to five hits over a complete game shutout to lift the Class AAA No. 2 Indians to a 3-0 victory.

“The first inning was his toughest inning finding the strike zone,” Bridgeport head coach Robert Shields said, “but after that he was in control of all three pitches and he did a great job.“

Stavrakis struck out three and issued four base-on-balls, pitching effectively to contact and relying heavily on ground balls to help produce three double plays, all of which were imperative in the outcome.

The first came in the top of the second inning with the contest scoreless. No. 7 Jefferson had loaded the bases with no outs, before Stavrakis struck out Ty Vickers. Sam Hefner then stepped into the batter’s box and sent a ground ball to shortstop that resulted in a force out for the second out, but brought one run in. In an effort to complete the double play, Indians’ shortstop Kasen Baun fired to first base, but the throw got away and enabled what appeared to be a second Jefferson run to score. However, Cougars’ baserunner Cole Lewis was ruled to have interfered with Baun during his slide into second base, which resulted in a third out and both runs being taken off the scoreboard.

With the game still scoreless in the third, Bridgeport broke through. Michael Romano led off the frame with a bunt single and after he was retired on Zach Rohrig’s fielder’s choice, Rohrig came around to score on a Brody Pierce double to left.

“We were fortunate to get out of the bases loaded jam with the interference call. That could’ve been a big inning for them and instead, we capitalized the next inning,” Shields said. “It was good to get on top.“

The Indians (17-3) had a chance to add to their advantage when they put two runners on the next inning, but Gross induced a fly ball to left off the bat of Romano for the final out of the frame.

Jefferson (13-8) threatened to tie the game in the fifth when Hefner had an infield single with one out. He was retired on a Nayan Dominguez fielder’s choice, and although Dominguez successfully stole second base with two outs, and he took off for third when the ball squirted away, only to be thrown out in the process.

“Little plays are magnified. We don’t slide at second or we swing at a ball at our shoe tops or don’t keep the ball in front of you in the outfield, and that’s the difference in the game,” Jefferson head coach John Lowery said. “You try to emphasize the point that you never know when those plays are going to come. But they’re young and working hard, and if we learn from those things, it’s a plus.”

Bridgeport gained complete control in the home half of the fifth. Pierce drew a one-out walk and came around to score after Dylan Duvall’s well-struck hit that bounced over the head of the Cougars’ centerfielder and rolled all the way to the wall, resulting in an inside-the-park two-run home run.

“I was watching what was going on with the other two outfielders when they went after it, and they were so far away,” Shields said. “I was trying to hope that by the time they got to the ball, Dylan was close to third base. They’d have to make two good throws, so I was going to keep him moving.”

After Stavrakis  walked Riley Morgan with one out in the sixth, he induced an inning-ending double play to second off the bat of No. 3 hitter Alex Tanner.

Gross retired the side in the bottom of the sixth and the Cougars didn’t go quietly in their final at bat. 

Serf Guerra led off the seventh and laced a ball to left field that looked as though it had a chance to go for extra bases, only for Pierce to reach up at the last second and snag it for the first out. The play proved even more critical when AJ Spears followed with a single and a two-out single from Will Polivnale allowed Hefner to step to the plate as the tying run.

However, Stavrakis got Hefner to hit a pop up to shortstop on the first pitch, preserving his shutout and a victory for a team that had lost earlier Saturday to St. Maria Goretti (Md.), 5-4.

“We put the ball in play and sometimes you hit them at them and sometimes you get the base hits,” Lowery said. “Their left fielder makes a great play, and if he doesn’t make that play, we’d have an opportunity to tie the game.” 

Spears was 2-for-3 and the only player with more than one hit in a game that featured nine between the two squads.

“We got the timely hits when we needed them,” Shields said. “That’s the way you have to do it against a quality club like Jefferson. You have to be able to scratch some runs across knowing it would be a low-scoring game.”

Gross allowed four hits, struck out six and issued three base-on-balls.

“We’re really excited with our pitcher. He’s only a sophomore and he’s consistent and establishing himself,” Lowery said. “When you get to tournament play and double elimination, you need three or four pitchers. He’s certainly shown he can be that guy.”

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Knights go 3-0 in Mon County Classic, defeating Jefferson 7-3

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Quinlyn Ballengee’s three-run home run capped a five-run fourth inning for Cabell Midland, propelling the Knights to a 7-3 win over Jefferson in the final game of the Mon County Classic.

The No. 1 Knights (19-3) went 3-0 in the weekend tournament. They collected wins over University and Morgantown in their first two games.

Eight Cabell Midland batters reached the plate in the decisive fourth inning and the first six hitters all reached base.

Audrea Watts went the distance in the circle for the Knights. She scattered seven hits, allowed one walk and struck out 15 batters.

Ellie McCormill added a pair of hits and two runs batted in to the Midland attack.

Brooke Allen led No. 5 Jefferson (20-6) at the plate with a pair of run-scoring doubles. Kale Dalton went 3-for-3 and Becca Munslow added a pair of hits.

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Miller votes for aid to American allies; Mooney listed as ‘not voting’

Congress on Saturday passed three bills representing aid to American allies. A fourth bill passed by Congress represents foreign policy objectives such as forcing a sale of TikTok and seizing frozen Russian assets to pay for Ukraine’s reconstruction, as well as imposing sanctions and other punitive measures against Russia, China and Iran.

Congresswoman Carol Miller, R-W.Va., voted yes for each as she had previously said she would do. Miller represents counties in the southern half of West Virginia.

Alex Mooney

Congressman Alex Mooney, R-W.Va., is listed by the Clerk of the House of Representatives as “not voting” on each of the bills considered Saturday afternoon.

Mooney represents counties in the northern half of West Virginia and competing is in the Republican primary race for U.S. Senate. His social media accounts showed images today from campaign events in Mercer County, Charleston and Webster County. 

In two of those posts, he accused his opponent, Gov. Jim Justice, of not debating him and “showing that he only cares about the DC establishment, swamp.”

On votes in Washington, D.C., today like one for aid to Israel, Mooney was one of just seven representatives listed as “not voting” on each of Saturday’s key bills.

Mooney’s congressional office said, “Congressman Mooney was in West Virginia today and not present in DC for votes. Rep. Mooney already voted twice to support Israel funding and continues to strongly support our ally Israel. Rep. Mooney believes funding for other countries should only be considered when our own border with Mexico is secured first.

“The House has already passed the strongest border legislation in history in H.R. 2, the “Secure The Border Act.” Rep. Mooney believes Chuck Schumer should immediately bring that legislation up for a vote in the United States Senate.”

Carol Miller

Miller, speaking this week on MetroNews’ “Talkline,” said she would support each of the bills in the aid package.

“The world’s hair is on fire,” Miller said, describing urgency. “We are in crazy times. And if you are a student of history and you start looking back to what was going on in the 30s, it’s kind of spooky how this is all kind of coming back to fruition.”

The bills passed on a bipartisan basis include:

  • The 21st Century Peace through Strength Act, which includes imposing sanctions on Russia and Iran as well as regulations on TikTok, passed 360-58.
  • An $8.1 billion aid bill for Taiwan and the Indo-Pacific region, called the Indo-Pacific Security Supplemental Appropriations Act, passed on a vote of 385-34.
  • The Ukraine Security Supplemental Appropriations Act, a $60 billion aid package for Ukraine, passed on a vote of 311-112. Roughly twice as many Democrats as Republicans, 210 to 101, voted for the Ukraine aid. Most of the money goes to U.S. weapons manufacturers to build back depleted U.S. weapons supplies, and about 20 percent of that goes directly to the country in the form of a loan.
  • The Israel Security Supplemental Appropriations Act, $26.3 billion in assistance, was approved on a vote of 366-58. This bill provides $17 billion in weapons for Israel and about $9 billion of humanitarian assistance for Gaza and elsewhere.

The bills are expected to be taken up in the Senate by Tuesday. West Virginia’s senators, Republican Shelley Moore Capito and Democrat Joe Manchin, have already expressed support for the aid.

Shelley Moore Capito

Capito, in a briefing with West Virginia reporters late last week, referenced the recent Iranian drone and missile attack on Israel that was largely neutralized.

She called Israel “our strongest ally” and described “my strong support for aid to Israel to help them defend themselves. I also believe we should continue with the aid to Ukraine for them to push back on Putin and also help with the Taiwanese/Chinese situation to make sure China does not begin to empire-build again much like Putin is trying to do.”

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Cabell Midland collects 14 hits in 10-2 win over Morgantown

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Highlights from Cabell Midland’s 10-2 (6-inning) win over Morgantown in the Mon County Classic. The No. 1 Knights improved to 17-3 with the victory. MHS fell to 12-7.

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Morgantown residents express frustration towards city council over lack of city homeless policies

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — City council plans to continue to discuss the city’s homeless issue.

Several residents spoke out at a meeting last Tuesday. Council has now scheduled another meeting for May 16.

Residents are calling for additional policies.

Resident Sarah Hutson explained that a tent could be the first step to transitional housing. Allowing existing camps in the city to be removed forces those residents to lose important documents they need to access social services. For less than $1,500, the city could purchase 50 bins that could be locked and used by homeless people to store important documents and items.

“Birth certificate, social security card, and one sweep, and that’s all gone; you have nothing,” Hutson said. “So, having a place where folks can keep stuff is vital for them to move forward.”

South Park Resident Lesley Nash urged council members to develop a blueprint to establish a housing first program. The program recognizes housing as a human right, not tied to personal responsibility, substance abuse, or mental illness. The program views a community with a homeless population as one that simply does not have enough homes for the residents that live there.

“This is a program that will see huge savings,” Nash said. “Not just in terms of finances, but also in terms of quality of life, quality of community, and the willingness of people to trust their government, trust their community, and trust the people that represent them.”

Rabbi Zalman Gurevitz lives downtown with his wife and nine children. He lives downtown because he works with students, and to maintain his faith, he must be within walking distance of work. Zalman told council members the views from his windows are R-rated, and he has to inspect his yard before he lets his children go outside to play. Based on the things he has seen, he carries Narcan daily.

Zalman said one afternoon he saw what he thought was a male in his 20s injecting drugs into a female, and he said, “It shook me to my core.” As a volunteer at the federal prison, Zalman expressed his concern to an inmate looking for ways to help the people.

“Rabbi, I know you’re not going to want to hear this, but this is the truth,” Rabbi Zalman said. “The only way to help them is to make it harder for them to be addicted to drugs than it is to go into recovery.”

Seventh Ward Councilor Brian Butcher said he has meetings with the Fairmont Morgantown Housing Authority to find ways to expand the Section 8 voucher program and improve the available housing stock. Butcher learned that when a house is taken off the list due to repairs, it may not return if the owner decides to make the repairs and remove it from the program. In many cases, the housing stock left to add to the voucher program is substandard, according to Butcher.

“They feel the only people deserving of them are houseless people,” Butcher said. “So, our unhoused neighbors end up living in substandard housing in certain instances.”

Morgantown Immigration Attorney Amy Lewis represents many homeless clients who face extra obstacles in Morgantown. Some are being rejected from Bartlett House because they don’t have the proper immigration documentation, and some agencies do not accept forms in any language other than English.

“Our city needs to do better to remove barriers and hurdles to get people into housing, including immigrants, non-English speakers, and illiterate individuals,” Lewis said. “Everyone should be able to access shelter regardless of their national origin.”

Fifth Ward Councilor Danielle Trumble wants to begin planning for the seasonal warming shelter now and look at options for the 28-bed space formerly operated by the Bartlett House at Hazel’s House of Hope. Trumble wants to work with the county commission, other municipalities, and other agencies to solve the warming and the overall shelter issue.

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