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Just Another Candidate for Governor or a Real Maverick?

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Americans concerned with whether the GOP will steal the election or not have had their minds focused on early voting reports. Early voting reports coming out of West Virginia show that votes, according to Wired News, are being flipped by ES&S voting machines (touch-screen machines with paper trails or optical-scan machines). The counties where reports have surfaced detailing vote flipping have been ordered by the state to recalibrate their machines.

One West Virginia voter reported that vote flipping happened when voting for candidates in the governor, state senate, and state Supreme Court races.

In West Virginia, the governor of the state used to be the Secretary of State in charge of the voting machines. The governor, Democrat Joe Manchin, is now in a race against two candidates, state senator Russ Weeks, a Republican, and Jesse Johnson, a Mountain Party candidate (the Mountain Party is affiliated with the Green Party). Johnson was a 2008 Green Party presidential nominee.

I took some time to talk about voting problems and mountaintop removal, a central issue in West Virginia, with Jesse Johnson, who has been endorsed by Mike Gravel:

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West By God Virginia is blessed to have a homegrown maverick, Jesse Johnson, who is seeking the all-important office of governor. Although I don't have much faith that either presidential nominee will change Washington, I'm excited by the opportunity for real change in West Virginia, a state where I have some longstanding knowledge because of my service under Senate Public Works Chairman Jennings Randolph and Bob Byrd, whom I nominated for the Whip leadership position. Yes, I'm that old.

I'm proud of Jesse Johnson. He's his own man -- a real maverick. Jesse has the courage and integrity to put the interest of the people above political party and special interests. That's the kind of a person West Virginia should have for governor.

Jesse grew up in the West Virginia hills and knows its problems first-hand. The main thrust of his campaign is dealing with the problem of mountaintop removal and its impact on the state's water resources and scenic beauty. He is not opposed to the coal industry, but he is opposed to absentee owners ripping off the state's resources and leaving their physical and unemployment mess behind.

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The South Charleston Tech Center is another case in point. Dow is letting the center die on the vine. Jesse wants to see it become a world-class coal research center undergirded by the universities of West Virginia. California, Massachusetts and North Carolina have created fantastic research centers. So can West Virginia. All it takes is leadership and vision -- not the same old tired hack politics where the party and personal interest are more important than the interest of the people.

Johnson's an innovator eager to work with other innovators ready to turn West Virginia around. I hope West Virginians get to know him over the next eight weeks. I hope you get to hear some of his innovative ideas that I know will save your state, your environment, your economy and your characteristic independence.

Gravel actually flew to West Virginia to formally endorse Jesse Johnson. In addition to that, the Green Party released a statement spotlighting Jesse Johnson as one of the top state and local candidates running for election:

Jesse Johnson, Mountain Party candidate for governor of West Virginia, who has participated in three debates and has attracted attention for his promotion of a ban on mountaintop removal mining by West Virginia’s powerful coal industry and his leadership on other state issues. Mr. Johnson was endorsed by the Sierra Club on October 3.

“Because of mountaintop removal and the power of the coal companies, West Virginia has become ground zero for global climate change in the US,” said Jesse Johnson. “The Interior Department is now relaxing rules on mountaintop mining, which will bring untold devastation to the natural environment and a massive threat to public health, through contamination of water and other resources. I’m the only candidate addressing this crisis, because the Democrat and Republican are too
closely allied with the coal companies that are plundering West Virginia.”

Video clip of Jesse Johnson speaking at a West Virginia Youth Commission forum: http://vimeo.com/2013238

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When I interviewed Johnson, he said he had heard about “potential vote tampering in West Virginia” and had heard hearsay that “one of the storage facilities for the machines was not secure and those contracts possibly go back to Gov. Manchin who was Secretary of State.”

He knew nothing more, though, than what had been reported and confirmed that voters were voting for Obama and then looking up and seeing that their vote had switched to McCain.

I asked Jesse Johnson about why votes might be flipping in the state Supreme Court race or what was at stake in those races since a voter reported his vote flipping when he voted for a candidate for state Supreme Court in West Virginia. Johnson said:

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Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure." He was an editor for OpEdNews.com

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