Jesse Johnson, the West Virginia Mountain Party's candidate for Governor, matches up against the incumbent (d) Joe Manchin and (R)Senator Russ Weeks in this Public Broadcasting Debate.
Johnson is the only gubernatorial candidate of the three who is against the coal mining practice of Mountain Top Removal (MTR) and espouses a citizens' extraction dividend, universal health care and free education, pro-labor amongst other policies deemed unfriendly to big business. He was denied entry to the West Virginia Broadcast Assn., the first and most widely broadcast statewide debate, which pre-empted programming on three network channels. The WVBA defended their choice to exclude the third party candidate on the grounds that the Republican and Democrat were having a "private news event". Published polls fail to indicate that the ballot qualified third party is even in the race, despite an overwhelming number of people being against MTR, according to a recent poll cited in the Charleston Gazette.
A discerning listener may notice that Johnson has to wait a rather long spell to be invited into the conversation between Governor Manchin, who is widely perceived as a "Dixiecrat" with several scandals floating around him, and pro-unborn life Weeks, who is willing to face up to Manchin, yet remains very skeptical of progressive ideals. (Weeks likens Mountain Top Removal to an " act of Mother Nature", satisfied that eventually good things will come of MTR, like golf courses, shopping malls and developed communities.)
The first question asked of Johnson has nothing to do with policy, but reads, instead, like a third grade test of state emblems.
"Let me take another tack on that. Can you name three of the state cabinet posts?" Now, the video of this "debate" is not posted, only the audio, but if you could have seen it, as I had, you would have noticed how remarkably calm and polite Johnson remained in the face of his intelligence being insulted. Curtly after, the host reengages Weeks and Manchin in a policy question.
I was in the press conference room and the two local stations reporters mouths dropped with astonishishment when they heard the obvious bias of the reporter. However, this may not be entirely the host's own prejudice. Manchin, as the self-appointed head of Public Broadcasting in West Virginia, does have some control.
While I admit that addressing someone about politics after they have come out of Church might appear disrespectful, it wasn't his church; he was just politicking. So, I ask again Governor, "Those machines that you bought when you were Secretary of State, doesn't it concern you that they are apparently switching the vote?"
We had a chance to interview Manchin and Weeks after the debate, but both candidates refused. Manchin then cornered Johnson in one side of the room, keeping his back to us, subjecting Johnson to his view that MTR, as practiced, was essential. Pro-mountaintop removal Weeks, wearing the soft silver new-born feet pin of a pro-lifer/anti-choicer, refused because of his concern that environmentalists misrepresent him.