AND THEN AGAIN……by Tamara Pettit

……What’s in a name?  Well, evidently quite a lot if you’re an aspiring politician in West Virginia.   If children and grandchildren wanting to emulate their grandfather by pursuing the same career goals, specifically a Congressional seat and the Governor’s seat, then the late Governor Arch Moore would be proud.   Not only did his daughter, Shelly Moore Capito, enter politics, but she is now one of two of our U.S. senators.   And, now Shelly’s son, Moore Capito, currently a member of the House of Delegates, announced that he’s running for Governor..  His other grandson, Riley Moore, recently-elected State Treasurer, has announced he will challenge Alex Mooney for the 1st District Congressional seat.   Arch Moore’s daughter and grandsons are seeking a triumvirate in West Virginia of Governor, Congressman and  U.S. Senator.   Can you say dynasty?.

……That’s a lot to expect for voters to buy from  a family with an impeccable history of public service, but even in a small state like West Virginia it’s too much to expect from a family whose patriarch was found guilty of corruption and served time in prison.  And, during the time that Arch was serving time, his daughter, Lucy Moore Durbin, was found guilty of selling cocaine out of her Charleston home.

……There are those who say Arch Moore could get elected today if he ran despite his convictions.   While I wouldn’t vote for him due to his ethics, I sure did like the man.   As a Republican, my dad was good friend of Arch’s and supported him.  I have a picture of Dad with Arch standing in front of the old A&S store in upper town New Cumberland as they greeted shoppers.  As I sit writing this I look into the dining room  and remember where we had Arch for a lobster dinner during  his Congressional campaign.   Arch never forgot a name and always recalled where he had first met me.  As an 11-year-old at New Cumberland school I spied a “Meet your Congressman” sign on the Courthouse door on my lunch hour.   I marched myself into the Courthouse and told the aide I had some issues to discuss with Congressman Moore.   My Dad must have known I was destined to pursue a career in politics when Moore told  him about our meeting later that day.

……I have to wonder what has spurred Arch’s daughter and grandsons to walk in his footsteps.  While the path to glory may been great, the downfall must have  heart-wrenching.  I don’t buy the political gene is in your makeup.  What I do think is that seeking political office is learned behavior.  The adrenaline rush felt by a candidate upon an election win is felt equally by family members.  Seeking that adrenaline high spurs many to risk the crushing blow of defeat.  That too, is equally felt by family,

……..I should be the last person not to understand a family steeped in politics.   Dad was elected before I was even born and continued to win election every four years for nine terms.  I learned a valuable lesson from him when he told me to never define yourself by the elective office to which you’ve been elected.   The voters giveth and the voters just as easily taketh away.  The late Hughie Tate was an encyclopedia of political knowledge and not one to beat around the bush.  When I whined  about not coming in first in a two-man election, Hughie set me down; pulled out his election file from waaaay back.

…..He had  every vote total on long time politicos.  “Look” he said. “Here’s John D.   He reached his high in his second term and then for the next seven terms had a steady decline.”   He continued.  “Here’s Joe Manypenny.  Peaks his second term and then starts a downward trend.”   He pulled out the County Clerk’s, Assessors, Sheriffs and the trend was obvious.  “And, here,” said Hughie, “is you (I was pretty impressed he had made a file for me) “you peak your second election, but this election you dropped and you’ll continue to do so.   Every term you make more people mad.  Just worry about getting one more vote than your opponent until you don’t.”  Hughie was right.  I won five elections  and on the sixth, I lost. 

…..Arch Moore was a war hero who was shot in the face and had to learn how to speak again.  He not only learned to speak, but went on to give speeches to servicemen.  When he was at WVU law school, he was so  caught up in university politics that he was told he would have to either focus on law school or running the university.  What I remember about Arch was his piercing blue eyes.  They truly connected with you when you spoke.  Sen. Shelly Moore Capito was quoted in Metro News this morning as saying her father would be proud of his grandson’s run for Governor noting that he reminds her of her father “through his eyes.”

……The political climate right now is one of distrust and painting all politicians with a broad stroke.   It will be interesting to see how Riley Moore and Moore Capito fare in their quest for further political power,  Will the Arch Moore legacy be an asset or liability?