There are various interests and factions, both good and very bad, for faith, family, and freedom. All exist within the Republican caucus in the West Virginia House of Delegates. Please help us to keep you informed.
March 11, 2021
Allen Whitt, President
Family Policy Council of West Virginia
Since most voters don’t fully comprehend what types of politicians we elected last November, this in-depth review exposes a partial cross-section of the West Virginia Republican supermajority so that voters may better understand the various factions within the WVGOP.
This publication provides a hard look into the makeup and interworkings of the Republican Party in West Virginia. To provide proper perspective, we’ve also included a brief overview of the menagerie of Democratic leadership remaining in the state House.
We take a deep dive into the state House, including the leadership, and highlight the candidates for the March 13th, 2021, internal race for the new chairman of the Republican Party. The state Senate is a smaller microcosm of the same groupings, but we’ll save that review for another day.
We are critical of the principles of many of the current elected Republicans. That’s especially true when Republicans identify as conservative Christians or present a vague pro-life endorsement as their bona fides. We know—and voters need to know—their actual positions and voting record, when it actually demonstrates duplicity. Primary voters would be shocked to learn how many of their elected Republicans have never even seen a copy of the WVGOP Party Platform.
We hope this evaluation of the often conflicting forces within the Republican party sheds light on the motivations of the elected members of the caucus. Understanding those motivations can help to explain the sometimes unexpected positions elected Republicans take on critical bills. We hope this lengthy look behind the scenes serves as a valuable resource for spiritually active, government-engaged conservatives as they attempt to lobby the legislature in the Mountain State.
Table of Contents
I: Elections Have Consequences – What Did We Do?!
II: Early Republican Frustrations
III: Proper Perspective – The Democrat Remnants of the West Virginia House
IV: Don’t Forget, the Democrats Have Been Canceled
V: We May Need to Keep 10-15 Democrats Around Permanently
VI: A New Hope – Republican Supermajorities
VII: The Factions Within the WVGOP
A. The Republican Faith First Caucus / SAGECONS
B. The Real Values of Republican Moderates
C. RINOs (Republicans in Name Only)
D. The Liberty Caucus
E. Single-Issue Caucuses
1. Gun Rights Caucus
2. Pro-Life Caucus
3. Homeschoolers Caucus
4. Union-Allied Republicans
5. Fire Engine Riders
6. Political Ladder Climbers
VIII. The Republican Leadership in the State House
IX: The Dangerous Republican Legislative Committee PAC
X. The March 13th Election for the New Republican Party Chairman
The Family Policy Council is a charity focused on keeping you informed. When you make a donation to us, the fight for your freedom continues.
I. Elections Have Consequences – What Did We Do?!
Charleston, WV – The November 2020 election saw President Trump fall victim to sketchy swing-state ballot manipulation. But in the Mountain State, the election was a trip to the ballot woodshed for most Democrats. For the first time in West Virginia’s history, 76 state House Republicans ended general election night as winners. After one additional flip, we have a current total of 77 state House Republicans. There was even rumor of one or two more Democrats mulling over the “if-ya-can’t-beat-em-join-em” idiom, but for this session they held off.
The Family Policy Council of West Virginia saw more than 85% of our endorsed candidates win their races in 2020–that’s great news for all West Virginians! But we believe it’s necessary to enlighten voters about who else got elected. Many Republicans are only interested in bills that deal with taxes or guns and are either indifferent towards or afraid of bills that protect religious liberty. Even with 77 red seats in the state House now, that color red doesn’t run as deep as Republican voters thought it would this session.
The West Virginia Legislature is halfway through its 85th session. There are more than 20 newly elected members, mostly conservative. But although the 100-seat House of Delegates in Charleston looks substantially more conservative on election paper than it did in 2020, it’s not behaving substantially more conservatively.
Republican primary voters were largely ignorant of the policy positions many Republican candidates held, and the typical voter asked candidates zero questions, completely trusting the red color of their jerseys. Most knew little about the Republican they voted for other than recognizing their campaign signs in a neighbor’s yard.
II. Early Republican Frustrations
Finishing the fourth week of the eight-week legislative session, it’s apparent that some corrective action will be necessary in the 2022 Republican primary. So far, conservative values are clearly not the driving force with select Republicans.
West Virginia voters gave Republicans supermajorities in both houses. But key votes aren’t going the way many Republican voters had hoped, and some are already antsy.
Those supermajorities should be making sweeping conservative changes to protect faith, family, and freedom by now.
Moreover, people expected their Republicans would reign in a power-hungry governor, elected first as a Democrat but now self-identifying as a Republican. Now voters are predictably frustrated by the lack of unity in the Republican caucus and its struggle to pass conservative bills. Primary voters’ expectations were unrealistic considering the moderate positions held by many of the Republicans they elected.
For example: Already, the one attempt to reign in the governor’s heavy-handed emergency powers has failed. Afterwards, Governor Jim Justice sent his muscle around to express his displeasure to every one of the 47 House delegates who voted for the amendment and “against him.”
Then the Republicans sided with that same governor to elevate the recently defeated former State Senate President, Mitch Carmichael, to a governor’s cabinet position. Carmichael is a notorious gay rights proponent and colluded with other activists to have the Religious Freedom Restoration Act turned into a gay rights bill so the Family Policy Council would have to urge a no vote on our own signature bill in the state Senate.
Another example: The nation’s best school choice bill, that would take West Virginia from 50th to 1st in the ability for parents to choose the best option for their student’s education, has hit significant snags.
Parents should be able to opt for a better education choice if they believe another form of education would benefit their children. The tax money for education belongs to parents, not the school systems, and that money should metaphorically travel with the student wherever they are educated: public, private, homeschooled, or public charter schools for special needs or gifted or challenged students.
Virtually ALL the House Republicans campaigned in support of President Trump. And if you recall, one of President Trump’s top campaign promises was more public school choice for our children. But on the final passage of the amazing Hope Scholarship bill, the Republicans lost 20 votes! President Trump and West Virginia primary voters do not approve of that embarrassing number.
Why so many NO votes? Union Republicans were unwilling to cross the teachers union to support it. Then there were a few more who, like on many bills, forget that they represent the interests of about 15,000 voters, and instead vote the way their uncle or wife wants them to. And on the final House vote, a couple of delegates were throwing a tantrum because their preferred amendment to the bill failed. So they ignored all the good in the bill and selfishly voted against it.
But perhaps the bigger issue is that the moderate Republican leadership in the House is, at best, agnostic about robust, universally-applicable public school choice, and at worst, a hindrance to a reasonable phase-in schedule.
In an unexpected move, the moderate Republican House leadership forced the Hope Scholarship bill to run the entire bill-making gauntlet twice.
And the Hope Scholarship bill may not have been introduced at all if not for former Wayne County elected delegate Derrick Evans. He assertively asked for a show of hands in public support during the December 2020 Republican Caucus retreat at the Stonewall Jackson Resort. Evans saw 60+ members of the rank and file House Republican delegates join him in support. The Speaker and leadership were put on the spot and basically forced to scramble to get back in front of the school choice parade. West Virginia’s children will one day thank Evans.
Example 3: The Republican supermajority-controlled state Senate sent the House a bill designed to hold lawbreakers accountable. Senate Bill 11 takes a previous West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals decision from 1990 declaring public employee strikes and work stoppages unlawful, and codifies that decision directly into state code. According to the roll call, 23 out of the 76 Republicans who voted on the bill voted against it, joining the 23 Democrats. SB11 passed the house 53-46, but shouldn’t have been that close.
The early frustrations with West Virginia’s House Republicans are exacerbated when other states are leading the way on bills important to protect faith and commonsense rights. Half of the 60-day legislative session has expired, and not a single bill to protect West Virginians’ faith or constitutional rights has been considered in a West Virginia House committee.
Tom Roten, a popular Huntington talk radio host, posted this survey of Republican voters online:
SURVEY: When you put Republicans in control of the WV Legislature, which of these issues were a priority?
A. Creating a Cabinet Position for an ousted Senator
B. Making sure ATM’s are allowed in casinos
C. Expanding alcohol sales
D. Native American Tribes Unique Recognition
E. Protecting albino deer
F. Creating Office of Outdoor Recreation
G. Allow counties to implement 1% consumers sales tax
H. Allow racetracks a secondary location for video lottery terminals
We agree: Those “priorities” so far in the 85th legislative session are not what the faithful voters in the Mountain State expected, and they’re not what the WVGOP Party Platform says Republicans value the most.
III. Proper Perspective – The Democrat Remnants of the West Virginia House
Rush Limbaugh, may God rest his soul, once said it would be wise to keep one communist as a professor at every university so each generation of students could see an up-close example of how socialists think. The Democrats in the West Virginia House of Delegates now number only 23, and that number will likely shrink with the coming redistricting in 2022. What’s left of their party in the state House is primarily made up of hard-core, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez-type socialists.
The House Democrats are led by Minority Leader Delegate Doug Skaff, whose DUI arrest in 2014, three weeks before election day, cost him a state Senate seat and likely any real political future in West Virginia. When he released the House Democrats’ 2021 agenda items, of course gay rights and more government control were at the top of their list.
And the House Democrats are not known for their civility. Minority Whip Delegate Shawn Fluharty, from Wheeling, went on the statewide radio show Metro News with Hoppy Kerchival on or about November 24th and stated that Family Policy Council of West Virginia President Allen Whitt was “sub-human” for daring to offer a dissenting voice to the Democratic party’s anti-family agenda.
Fluharty told Hoppy that he “shouldn’t give sub-humans like Allen Whitt a platform on [his] show.” The host privately acknowledged that Fluharty’s comment was over the line. This lack of statesmanship is common from House Democrats.
There’s also Delegate Danielle Walker from Morgantown, who is an Antifa sympathizer and a Planned Parenthood-endorsed Democrat. She recently promoted a convicted felon and drag queen for a children’s story time at one of the
Morgantown public library branches. And Walker, who is African-American, is a BLM race-baiter; she was caught on video demanding that all white people move to the back of the crowd at a recent protest.
Then there’s the vocal homosexual-identifying delegate from Elkins, Cody Thompson. He only won his first election in a reddish district, running a stealth campaign (not a peep about gay rights), with the financial support of the nation’s wealthiest pro-gay rainbow
PAC, called The Victory Fund. He’s become the poster child for appropriating civil rights by demanding legal protections for all of the opt-in LGBTQAI+ behavior on every bill he can. Like most pro-transgendered rights activists, he tries to force everyone to believe that behavior is an immutable trait, like skin color.
Democrat Delegate Mike Pushkin once saw Family Policy Council President Allen Whitt at a downtown Charleston restaurant with some female colleagues. He paid a waitress to deliver a fruity umbrella drink to Whitt’s table. It included a message: “Thanks for the best night of sex ever. Love Steve.” Pushkin later bragged about the disgusting prank to a Charleston radio host. But the House Democrats’ debased antics don’t top their hypocrisy.
Remember when all the Democrats lost their minds in 2019 over a 9/11 Twin Towers poster displayed at the Capitol by a private citizen that reminded West Virginians to never forget, and pointed out Congresswoman Ilhan Omar’s promotion of pro-terrorist organizations? The Democrats claimed it was anti-Muslim racism. We point out an inconvenient truth here: The Democratic Party is led by President Joe Biden, who on February 16, 2021, dismissed the genocide of Chinese Muslim Uyghurs as a Chinese cultural “different norm.”
And during a February 18th floor debate on the Hope Scholarship bill, Delegate Sean Hornbuckle, D-Cabell, brought up the possibility of the school vouchers going to fund an Islamic private school:
“I, myself, Christian, Catholic, Muslim, Hindu, I love it all,” he said. “But that is my right, that is my choice. Now, while I might not agree with it, others feel the way they do. But that is their right. And I would venture to say, that there are some out there that might not be too happy, that we’re funding a Muslim school. I’m just going to say that.”
If a Republican had broached that subject so indelicately, on the House floor, the Democrats would have kicked down every door in the Capitol, even if they had to go get Senator Mike Caputo to help. Delegate, spare us any future faux outrage over manufactured xenophobia or anti-Muslin discrimination.
IV. Don’t Forget, the Democrats Have Been Canceled
The only place where cancel culture is a good thing is at the ballot box. Most of these Democrats’ allies got canceled by the West Virginia voters last November. But since they have media allies, they don’t actually realized they’ve been canceled. In 2021-22 you’ll still hear from the House Democrats in the local funny papers. (FYI: Minority Leader Doug Skaff has ownership in the Charleston Gazette.)
That’s already happened in 2021 as Democrats have used those media allies to make preposterous demands. They’ve called for various Republicans to be censured or removed from committees. Why? The Democrats’ go-to grievance is to claim racism or discrimination. The reality is that the Republican delegates are never allowed to object to Democrat hypocrisy. If they do so, they find themselves under attack from Democrat-owned news outlets with Democrat histrionics as the leading story.
Help us to cancel the Left’s efforts to silence people of faith. Please consider making an online donation to help us stay loud.
V. We May Need to Keep 10-15 Democrats Around Permanently
As Rush suggested, we may need to keep 10-15 Democrats around permanently in the state House. The future voting public needs to witness in person what the remaining Democrats have become. There are lessons that can be learned in a safe environment by observing socialists when they don’t have power. There’s critical value in hearing how socialists and communists think when they can’t punish you because you disagree with them.
Currently, the powerful socialists in the federal government, big tech, and the mainstream media are bombarding the next generation with socialism’s idealized benefits. They allow no dissent or you will be canceled. Gen Z is in danger. We all are in danger.
Knowledgeable students who have evaluated socialism and its evangelists would not disregard socialism’s damning history. Socialism starved millions in Europe. It crippled the proud island of Cuba, and now it has obliterated every facet of oil-rich Venezuela. Similar destruction would befall America as well, if Democrats were allowed to implement those same dangerous and morally bankrupt policies here.
Socialists offer free healthcare, free mobile phones, forgiveness of student loans, and a universal living wage. Those bribes tickle a lot of gullible ears.
Socialism is always sold to the masses under the same fallacy of economic equality for the poor and the lifting up of minorities. But when studied in a controlled environment, a future voter would recognize that socialism penalizes high achievers and destroys job creators. Democrats are frequently the champions of women’s causes, but women fare far worse in Democrat Socialist countries. Socialism devalues and dismantles the traditional family unit.
And socialism intentionally demoralizes the average person’s desire to ever obtain excellence in their work. Without the desire to create excellence and the desire to achieve, innovation is suffocated and American exceptionalism dies.
Gen Z, study these remaining West Virginia Democrats closely. Learn why we should never again allow them any political power.
As a reader, you may need a palate cleanser and a pick-me-up after that last section. So before we get into the multiple factions of the West Virginia House Republicans, here’s a link to President Trump’s February 28 CPAC speech.
VI. A New Hope – Republican Supermajorities
The Republican Party, as flawed as it is, is currently our only remaining political party that at least still pays lip service to defending Americans’ fundamental constitutional rights. With supermajorities in both houses, there is a new hope that long-overdue change will come. But the Republicans in generations past never had the luxury to stop and consider what to do if they ever really had a supermajority.
Well, that majority has arrived, and not everyone is rowing in the same direction yet. So which Republican side backs First Amendment religious freedoms and our individual rights? Which Republican side defends faith, family, and freedom, and which won’t? Which can be won over? Which can’t?
Already the internal Republican skirmishes are building in intensity, and most Republican voters have no idea that it’s even happening.
As our earlier vote examples pointed out, the political shooting this session will all be inside the WVGOP caucus. The Republicans can ignore the Democrats if they stick together. But power struggles, private arm-twisting, and passionate disagreement are evident across the party. If the Republican leadership is wise and handles the conflict perfectly, then most of that conflict will be behind the closed doors of the caucus meetings.
If they don’t manage the rifts perfectly, if they let their own personal views and agenda bias their leadership, then we will see private Republican disagreements spill into the media and become public. (That has already begun: See news articles on the failed attempt to rein in the governor’s emergency powers and on the Hope Scholarship debates.) And there has already been an open announcement that there will be a challenge for the speaker’s position in 2022 by one of the house committee chairs.
VII. The Factions Within the WVGOP
A. The Republican Faith First Caucus/SAGECONs
Faith First Caucus bills are simple bills designed to make sure that the protections of the United States Constitution are also spelled out in state law, so that faithful citizens are protected from unjust state government
In the 1550s in England, it was actually illegal to translate the Bible into English so that plowboys could read it. It was illegal for anyone to own such a Bible. It was unlikely that many plowboys could read. But through the efforts of a few men that put faith first, in just a few years, the law was changed and the Bible was translated legally. The plowboys got copies. And they read it.
That initial victory was temporary. But it had begun a revolution of freedom that was unstoppable and carries on even in West Virginia today. It was the battle to put the Bible into the hands of the common people that eventually led to the establishment of every component of the First Amendment.
The Faith First Caucus is a group of about 30 Republican West Virginia House delegates who are SAGECON conservatives. A SAGECON is a Spiritually Active Government Engaged Conservative.
Also sometimes known as Church conservatives, this faith-based caucus (a caucus is simply a group of elected members dedicated to voting as a bloc for political leverage) is primarily motivated by faith-based social policy, as opposed to tax or spending policy.
For example, SAGECON/Church conservatives believe that babies are made in the image of God and ought not be cut up into pieces before they are born. Defending the First Amendment and religious freedom in state law is a must for these members. These delegates also know the difference tween a bull, a heifer, and a steer.
They rightfully resist the more moderate Republicans, who apparently see cows differently and often tell SAGECONS that they need to pipe down about letting men into ladies’ rooms.
SAGECONS believe in biology and in the sanctity of marriage as being exclusively between one man and one woman.
They believe that only women can have babies and that high school girls shouldn’t have to compete against confused males in sports. Here’s a list of Family Policy Council bills this session that members of the Faith First Caucus are supporting.
These men and women represent all West Virginians, but they are especially motivated to champion the constituency of faith-focused voters from multiple church denominations.
For example, the majority of the house passed a bill that would continue the kind of flexibility with beer, wine, and liquor sales that has been allowed during the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill passed 89-10. But there were 10 members of the Faith First Caucus who objected to permanently easing the availability of intoxicants.
Freedom of speech and press, the free exercise of religion, freedom of association, and the right to petition for redress of grievances all came from the battle for the Bible. The protections for religious freedom did not come from the Enlightenment (people indifferent to religion did not care about freedom for believers); it was common people who rejected the mainstream and who fought and won the battle. And the battle for these ideals was at the heart of the founding of our nation.
“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious People. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” – John Adams, Founding Father who served as the second President of the United States
The Declaration of Independence didn’t focus on economic prosperity or military might. It proclaimed that the purpose of government was to protect God-given rights that were given equally to everyone. Of course, as we established freedom, especially religious freedom, prosperity, abundance, strength, growth, and general human flourishing followed in its wake. We sought first things first, and the rest came along naturally. It is parallel to Jesus telling us to seek first the Kingdom of God and all these things will be added to us.
The Faith First Caucus has its work cut out even with a supermajority of Republicans.
The uphill battle for SAGECONs to pass socially impactful laws has been evident at least since the Reagan administration. Evangelicals’ entry into politics was new then. Part of that was because of engagement by parent groups of The Family Policy Council of West Virginia like Focus on the Family and Family Research Council, and allied groups like Americans United for Life and Alliance Defending Freedom, whose President, Mike Farris, is quoted in several paragraphs of this section.
Farris recently wrote, “The RNC and President Reagan’s team liked our votes, but we were told that they were going to deal with economic issues first, then national defense and foreign policy, then ultimately they would turn to social issues. The truth was that very little was done for social issues. It wasn’t the priority. And it’s been basically that way ever since, alternating between administrations that viewed social issues as secondary or were adamantly opposed.
“Trump was better than any GOP predecessor, but even these years were not as productive as they should have been. The chief example is the failure of the GOP to fully defund Planned Parenthood despite having the White House and both houses of Congress in the first two years of the Trump administration.”
The SAGECONs know that if we want economic prosperity, if we want to protect our nation from the internal and external opponents of freedom, we have to get our priorities straight.
“We have to get the right to life secured. And religious freedom. And freedom of speech—especially the freedom to preach the Gospel. But freedom of speech, like religious freedom, is for everyone. We have to return to God’s definition of marriage and sexuality. And we have to follow God’s standard for parents, not government, being the prime decision makers for their children.”
These are the five issues that West Virginia and America must deal with, in addition to the Second Amendment, the scope of federal power, taxes, spending, debt, and much more. The members of the Faith First Caucus seek every opportunity to advance these things as well. But the path forward is to get first things first: Faith First.
If the Faith First Caucus gets life right and religious freedom right and the related First Amendment freedoms right, then educational choice, economic freedom, and national defense will follow. All of these policy goals will be attainable, and West Virginia will be able to flourish in the wake of the success on these core moral and freedom issues.
B. The Real Values of Republican Moderates
Moderates—not to be confused with RINOs—are Republicans that are obsessed with
business and entities that drive tax revenue. They are fine with big government as long as the money flows.
Expansion of gambling revenues, increased liquor sales revenues, marijuana legalization, coal revenue, gas pipelines, federal government grants, reduced business inventory taxes, reduced personal income taxes…these are the driving interests of the social moderates within the West Virginia State House.
Many business lobbying entities, including representatives of the surprisingly left-leaning West Virginia Manufacturing Association,
frequently discourage elected officials from supporting faith, family, and freedom bills. So they find easy allies within the 30 or so moderates within the House Republican caucus. Paradoxically, moderate Republicans regularly sponsor anti-faith, pro-LGBT bills that threaten the rights of the very business owners that moderates typically gravitate towards.
Moderates are sometimes referred to as Chamber of Commerce Republicans by the SAGECONs because the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce, which commonly endorses these types of candidates, also supports progressive social issues. For example, the WV Chamber openly opposed the 2016 Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Some moderates are decent human beings, but rarely do any of them give a hoot about bills that protect the Christian worldview or the lives of babies in the womb. We dare not ask them to sponsor a bill on constitutional protections for religious freedom.
It’s important to note that many of the moderates are quick to point out that they too have a church membership and/or also “go to church.” These moderate Republicans, however, are likely to attend a mainline denominational church where the LOVE verses of the Bible are the focus and church discipline is nonexistent.
Moderates and RINOs wrongly think that SAGECONs want to force America to become a Christian nation.
But spiritually active, government-engaged Christians steadfastly oppose any effort to have Christianity declared the official religion of the United States. That would give government jurisdiction over the souls of men and at least some supervisory authority over churches. All of this is unthinkable to SAGECONs because they value religious freedom and believe that religious freedom is for all—not just those who agree with their theology.
But SAGECONs would certainly rejoice in a massive revival where every person in America accepted Christ as their Savior, or even if just a majority of people gained a personal relationship with Jesus. These Republican legislators would also welcome a voluntary, moral revival where cultural mores were aligned with Biblical values.
So it would be more accurate and less contentious if moderate Republicans understood that SAGECONs are working to build a more Christian culture, rather than attempting to demand the United States be declared an official Christian nation with the Bible replacing the Constitution.
But because moderates often hold progressive or left-leaning social policy positions, they are frequently embarrassed by social conservatives and their policies. Some loathe the fact that they need the faith-first Republicans to hold power. Many of those same moderate Republican elected officials hate the Family Policy Council of West Virginia with a burning passion. That’s because it’s typically left up to us to publicly out them as holding faith-hostile positions while campaigning as defenders of the entire party platform. They do not want to be held accountable to their much more faith-friendly constituents.
“A percentage of Republicans despise what we do. We will make them known.” – Allen Whitt
An embarrassing example of that happened during consideration of the Hope Scholarship bill. Delegate Joshua Higginbotham,
a proud sponsor of a pro-homosexual and transgender rights bill this session, was presented with two opportunities to vote to add protections for homosexual and transgender behavior into the bill. As a spokesperson for LGBTQAI+ rights, you would think he would have more PRIDE in his votes. However on February 16th, he snuck out of the chamber right before the amendment vote so that his vote would not be recorded on the controversial issue. Most of his district adamantly opposes expanding the law to protect Higginbotham’s specific sexual and gender behavior causes, and he knows that being on record will hurt his reelection bid. So when that pro-homosexual amendment came to a vote the second time on March 4th, he made the exact same dodge.
In days gone by, it was the responsibility of the local pastor and church leadership to call out their local representatives when they publicly espoused or voted for laws that undermined our religious freedom. But church discipline is all but gone in West Virginia’s communities.
Moderates believe that many of the Bible-related bills from the Faith First Caucus are bad for business. So much so, that they willfully—if usually quietly—give in to or even partner with socially left-leaning lobbying groups like WV Free, the pro-abortion lobby, and the pro-marijuana and pro-gambling lobbying groups. Moderates are also likely to support enemies of faith like Fairness West Virginia, the pro-gay rights lobby, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Manufacturing Association, all LGBTQAI+-allied activists, to keep faith-defending bills from passing.
Moderates may get their talking points from those progressive groups, friends at the country club, or “friends” in the media, or even from the often problematic Republican National Committee and Log Cabin Republicans. Moderates just don’t put much stock in morality and frequently embrace the mislabeling of any Faith First Caucus bill to handicap it with the media and therefore the public. This is self-defeating because come election time, the only way a moderate Republican is getting any help from their friends in the media is if there is a conservative running against them. The media will back a Democrat over a moderate Republican every time, but the moderates forget that while cozying up to them.
For example, moderates are quite quick to oppose what they call anti-gay bills or bathroom bills that they wrongly claim will give West Virginia a black eye. They parrot the Left’s talking points, like that these types of bills will hinder the waves of “our best and brightest” LGBT business owners looking to move to West Virginia. The coal fields are going to need a lot more than a gay-owned ice cream shop to save their economy.
Our President Allen Whitt spoke to the Kanawha County Republicans back in 2014 at their monthly luncheon. He told them that he had fought in a Republican civil war, on the losing side, as a lobbyist in Montana before coming to West Virginia. He warned that the internal ideological fault lines would grow wider within the West Virginia caucus as Republicans gained in numbers and power and that if the moderate Republicans won control, in many ways it would be worse than if the Democrats still had control. It is very difficult to educate apathetic voters on the degrees of conservatism if all the candidates are wearing red.
He compelled the party activists and donors at that luncheon not to back just anyone wearing a red shirt to win a seat. His warning was not well received by those there who had been in the minority for 83 years. That’s not surprising because the audience was made up of the politically maimed and beaten-down Republicans who had lived lifetimes as victims of annual election slaughters.
He said in his speech, “I didn’t come to West Virginia to fight the Democrats; that’s the Republicans’ job. Since Democrats have become a ‘progressive’ party of socialists, they shouldn’t be reasoned with. They should be defeated. Their socialist policies have accounted for 100 million deaths through starvation and murder during the past century.
“Thankfully, in West Virginia, that socialist party is not in power anymore. I came to lead an organization that would fight for the souls of West Virginians. We fight for traditional family, the right to express our individual and corporate faiths. And as flabbergasting as this sounds, we have to defend common sense science like, what is male and female biology and a citizen’s right to proclaim that without unjust government persecution.”
He repeated that warning in a 2019 keynote address to the Berkeley County Republicans, at their Republican Eisenhower Dinner. His main message:
“Now that the Democrats have been all but defeated in West Virginia, conservatives must commit to fight against moderates within the party. They will not be allies defending all the critical values that the Republican Party platform says Republicans stand for, especially the ones most primary voters in West Virginia believe in.”
Can you tell which candidates might not support all of the Republican Party platform? We can. If you make a donation, we can help you investigate your local candidates.
C. RINOs (Republicans In Name Only)
For decades, the term RINOS (Republicans In Name Only) has been a pejorative moniker bestowed upon elected “Republicans” who vote like Democrats. The Republican National Committee attracts these RINOs with their big tent approach. The RNC falls prey to leftist talking points once again when they say there’s plenty of room inside the party for all sorts of Republicans. We oppose that approach. This isn’t California; this is West Virginia. The majority of Republican voters hold a Judeo-Christian worldview. There is only one reason to have a political party: because you share common values.
The only big tents we’ve ever seen had either a slobbering preacher or circus monkeys, and a couple times, both. But since the typical Republican voter in West Virginia (or any state) can’t tell you what the word Republican even stands for anymore, we won’t spend much time defining these folks. They should be primaried and replaced, and there’s almost 10 of them in the Republican House caucus.
For example, a reelected eastern-panhandle Democrat, Jason Barrett, thought he’d
look better in red after last November’s election night. So he changed to a Republican jersey. Barrett had been known as a more moderate Democrat and recently married a former Republican Party staffer. But until he proves his party platform chops, he is a Republican in name only. There are others.
The Family Policy Council of West Virginia has urged the WVGOP for several years to follow the lead of other states like Alabama and institute a 100-question candidate survey based on the Republican Party Platform. If the candidate doesn’t score 80% on average, then the candidate doesn’t get the Party’s approval in the primary. The law currently allows anyone who wants to identify as a Republican to do so, even if they are clearly bald-face liars about their positions.
But so far the WVGOP has taken no initiative to implement a qualifier so that Republican voters know that the candidate has at least been vetted by the party.
D. The Liberty Caucus
The Liberty Caucus is a group of state House libertarians who know they can’t get elected as actual members of the West Virginia Libertarian Party, so they run and win as members of the Republican Party. These are intelligent, high-minded delegates that prioritize
the exacting standards of the Constitution, as we suppose someone in the caucus should. But the 4-8 of them often demand those exacting standards even if it sacrifices practicality in passing popular conservative bills.
These folks can be problematic to SAGECONs in that they are so liberty-minded that their sponsored bills may sometimes embody more of a wheels-off, no guardrails vibe. They would legalize drugs, some even prostitution, in the name of liberty. To them, all tax is theft.
“It’s important to note that the Family Policy Council uses this working definition of the words ‘freedom’ and ‘liberty.’ Freedom is a free-for-all, do-what-you-want kind of concept. Liberty is freedom with some guardrails.” – Allen Whitt
The approach of this faction can, at times, be interpreted as arrogance or plain contrariness. More than one member of the Liberty Caucus has been censured or removed from their committee assignments in recent years for directly challenging leadership or outright accusing them of violating the U.S. and West Virginia Constitutions.
E. Single Issue Caucuses
1. Gun Rights Caucus:
The Family Policy Council of West Virginia only lobbies on behalf of First Amendment issues. However, the Second Amendment is necessary to back up the First Amendment. So you’ll never hear the Family Policy Council badmouth those who are motivated by the need to own firearms. The Second Amendment allows for the protection of the First Amendment, thus maintaining a way for us to defend ourselves against a corrupt government. Almost 100% of the SAGECONs are also in favor of the defense of the Second Amendment, but it is not their primary motivation.
WVCDL, the West Virginia Citizens Defense League, is the second most powerful lobbying group in our state after the teachers union. They rarely miss a shot they take when it comes to getting a pro-gun ownership bill or pro-Second Amendment bill passed.
2. Pro-Life Caucus: Almost 100% of SAGECONs are pro-life supporters. But single-issue pro-life delegates, influenced by groups like West Virginians for Life, can actually obstruct SAGECON efforts to pass religious freedom and pro-faith bills. Other pro-life policy groups, like Mountain State for Life, take that into account and lobby for life policy in a more comprehensive manner.
3. Homeschoolers Caucus: Some of the most passionate advocates at the Capitol are SAGECONs who are supporters of the homeschool movement. They lobby tenaciously for bills that protect our rights to educate our children at home. Most elected officials who homeschool or who have those ties are equally passionate about those bills.
4. Union-Allied Republicans
There are about a dozen union members elected in the West Virginia House as Republicans. It’s virtually impossible for those members to vote against their union interests. We’ve already seen that as ten of them voted against the best bill to move in the legislature in 50 years, the Hope Scholarship school choice bill. This is a problem for passing meaningful public school choice reforms because the West Virginia teachers union (WVEA) wrongheadedly opposes more public school choice for parents. The union bosses have brainwashed
many otherwise good teachers that if true public school choice options are given to parents, then “teachers’” money will be cut.
The reality is that the National Education Association and their state affiliates have long pushed a godless social agenda including pro-abortion, pro-homosexuality, pro-transgendered, and pro-Marxism ideologies. The unions even threaten Christian teachers with punishment if they don’t go along. And the local media is bold about just why they oppose school choice.
Some of the union members are solid Christian people, but few will budge on a vote that their union says no to, no matter how much benefit it brings to other Christians. This is a problem.
5. Fire Engine Riders: There’s always a percentage of elected officials, including Republicans, who run for office for little reason other than that they like to ride the fire engine and wave to the crowd at the Fourth of July parade. When a vote is called on the floor of the House, you can sometimes watch these delegates from the gallery as they scramble to look around to see how their seat mates are voting to make sure they don’t hit the wrong button. “Is it green or is it red? Don’t really care. I hope my headshots came out good for the legislative website.”
6. Political Ladder Climbers: Some office holders have their sights set on being the next Whip Deputy Commissioner of the Office of State or some other position of prestige. These delegates hold office to hold court. They love them some politics when a camera, reporter, or free reception from a lobbyist is available.
These last two types of politicians, along with the single-issue candidates, create a Republican caucus that is unpredictable and frustrating. We are seeing that now. The single-issue lobbying groups can create obstacles when these groups advertise their single-issue candidate endorsements during elections. That approach often gives political cover to VERY bad Republicans on other conservative issues and elects an unwieldy caucus.
Endorsed candidates from single-issue groups might have a perfect pro-gun voting record or score ok on the lone pro-life bill that ran during the most recent session. But the candidate might be terrible on every other conservative category.
Well-rounded Republicans that will uphold all the planks of the broad Republican Party platform, cannot be disinterested in SAGECON bills.
We must move the constitutional ball down the legislative field on current hot-button conflicts like protecting business owners against LGBT activism. So along with any other single-issue voter guides that may be of interest to a voter, the Family Policy Council encourages voters to seek out our voter guide, which covers a broad range of faith and freedom issues, each election.
VIII: The Republican Leadership in the State House
The current House leadership has been frustrating social conservatives. We are not sure where they stand at any given moment on many bills important to defending faith, family, and freedom. But we do know that the moderates have a plan to take control of the direction of the WVGOP.
And that must never be allowed, even if it requires the Faith First Caucus and other allied factions to take on their moderate to RINO leadership, like Texans did in 2016, to make a change.
If you want to see what that looks like, then Google the Texas State House Speaker when the SAGECONs filibustered their own leadership and killed 102 Republican bills on the final day of session. That nuclear option ended a decade of moderate stranglehold on the Texas House, and resulted in the eventual resignation of a very bad and very powerful speaker.
There once was a boy who went to the circus. While there, he came upon a magnificent elephant with a small rope around his neck tied to a meager metal stake in the ground. The boy inquired of the elephant’s trainer nearby, sir, the elephant is so big and powerful, it seems odd to me that the tiny rope is strong enough to keep him held back.
The elephant keeper smiled and answered, Oh that rope would be like a thread and the stake like a toothpick to him. If he attempted to pull free, he would certainly be free. But you see, son, when that elephant was still new and little, he didn’t yet have all of his strength and courage. So after all his early attempts to break free failed…after a while he simply stopped trying.
At halfway through the legislative session, with no First Amendment bills and no Second Amendment bills even in a committee, the 20 newly-elected House members, along with the SAGECONs, must soon ask the question, is it time to yank on the rope that’s been placed upon them by the House leadership? And the Republican Party as a whole must ask the question, what is it that we stand for? What kind of Republicans will the WVGOP be, and who will champion those shared values?
IX. The Dangerous Republican Legislative Committee PAC
There’s a little-known but powerful political action committee (PAC) called the West Virginia Republican Legislative Committee. This isn’t an official part of the legislature. And it doesn’t function like a legislative committee. A PAC’s purpose is to raise money, recruit candidates, and assist incumbent Republican state House members with their elections. During the recent 10-year period when Republicans were trying to climb out of the minority in the House of Delegates, this PAC successfully assisted with that historic 2014 accomplishment.
The current members of the Republican Legislative Committee are not proponents of religious freedom, traditional marriage, or policy that would keep males out of girls’ high school locker room showers or off their sports teams.
The Speaker of the House, Roger Hanshaw, appoints members of the legislature to this political action committee. And currently Delegate Moore Capito, eldest son of U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito, is the appointed chairman of the Republican Legislative Committee PAC.
There are approximately nine members of this PAC, and unfortunately the Family Policy Council categorizes 8 out of 9 of its most recent members as either moderates or RINOS. This is significantly concerning. This PAC is in charge of recruiting new Republicans, but it doesn’t support large sections of the Republican Party Platform. No surprise that those sections of the platform are critical to SAGECONs.
During the 2020 campaign season, we received calls that the hired executive director of the Republican Legislative Committee, Sam Ollis, a recent WVU graduate, was pressuring SAGECON candidates to steer away from publicly supporting our President Allen Whitt as he ran against Delegate Capito’s mother in the Republican primary. Ollis is a former intern for Senator Capito but takes his directions from the PAC Chair, Moore Capito.
“It’ll be a lot better for you if you are team Capito rather than team Whitt,” was how one candidate relayed Ollie’s coercion.
There’s also another character that influences the left-leaning policy goals of the Republican Legislative Committee. His name is Kent Gates. Gates may have a contract to advise the PAC. Gates has been the campaign consultant for Senator Shelley Moore Capito for almost 15 years as part of a large political consultancy firm, BrabenderCox, in Texas. Gates is a gay-identifying man and an ardent LGBTQAI+ rights activist.
In 2016 he was also the campaign consultant for gubernatorial candidate State Senate President Bill Cole. The Family Policy Council learned after the fact that Gates instructed Cole to kill the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and told him not to even attend the rally for the bill at the Capitol in Charleston. Gates colluded behind the scenes with then-State Senator Mitch Carmichael to ensure that the popular House bill was turned into a gay rights bill in the Senate, leading to its failure.
The RFRA bill polled at 93% with West Virginia’s voters. Gates gave Cole bad advice. Cole lost. And Gates is giving bad advice to the Republican Legislative Committee.
Until he was removed from the PAC committee in 2019, House Delegate Josh Higginbotham was the primary candidate recruiter for this group, and he recruited an openly gay-identifying Republican candidate from Huntington. That candidate has repeatedly spoken against the platform’s support for traditional marriage and in favor of banning talk therapy for sexually confused teens.
Allen Whitt: “This is a dangerous PAC because money and prestige talk, and political contributions to state House races are hard to come by in West Virginia. So when this PAC offers money to a SAGECON candidate, there’s pro-gay, anti-religious freedom, sit still, be quiet and look pretty, strings attached to it.”
Republican voters, please investigate the positions of this PAC for yourself. Ask questions when Speaker Hanshaw speaks at your event. Demand answers. Even most of the elected House members don’t know what that PAC really stands for. This is not the Republican Party that the majority of voters thought they’d be getting. The membership of that PAC must change; that is a House leadership decision. But ultimately, of course, it’s a voter decision.
X. The March 13th Election for the New Republican Party Chairman
On March 13th, approximately 130 voters, members of the state executive committee of the Republican Party, will hold an internal election at the Charleston Convention Center to choose a new state party chairman. The new chairman will serve the remainder of the current four-year term, 16 more months. The position was left vacant by former Chair Melody Potter, who resigned suddenly after a troubled tenure. Potter was filling the remainder of former Chairman Conrad Lucas’ term after he resigned to run for Congress.
The Family Policy Council is proud of the generational red veterans of the WVGOP. Our organization is nonpartisan, but we are happy that the reign of the current Democratic Party is over in West Virginia.
Our hearts were tugged when we met a long-time Republican gentleman in his 90s attending a sold-out 2019 Republican dinner in deep blue Wyoming County. After seeing the record number of Republican attendees, tears welled up in his eyes, and he said, “I’m proud that I lived long enough to see this.”
But many of these Republicans are the remnants of the four-plus generations of Republican resistance who took their West Virginia beatings from the powerful Democrat machine for 83 years. And because of that hard road they lived, we sometimes refer to them as the “battered-wife” Republicans.
Many Republican voters in West Virginia voted for a slogan more than a person.
And now, even though what’s left of the blue army has been run plumb across the Maryland line, the old guard still has a hard time embracing primary controversy. In their day it was foolish to waste money on a primary and weaken a Republican candidate, when they were likely going to lose to the Democrat in the general anyway. Because of those experiences, they tend to shy away from internal party change and stick with the names they know.
They are quite reluctant to abandon the Republican icons they’ve known for years and years. Those Republican veterans just won’t believe it when they are presented with evidence that some of their legacy Republican names and office holders are almost considered Democrats by today’s conservative standards. – Allen Whitt
This election for a new Republican Party State Chairman is a milestone event.
It will be the first in state history to take place while Republicans have supermajorities in both houses and a Republican governor. The state chairman is just a volunteer position, but the executive committee’s choice will determine if the Republican head will be more of the same or will step forward and champion true conservatism.
Candidates for Republican Party Chairman
(The four candidates contrast significantly one from another.)
ELECTED WVGOP STATE CHAIRMAN 3/13/2021
Former Chairman, Raleigh County Republican Executive Committee
Harris is a retired U.S. Army Colonel that served as a senior flight surgeon. He is also a firefighter from Beaver, WV, and serves as a part-time minister at Memorial Baptist Church. Harris is a sought-after event speaker and delivers inspirational messages on constitutional integrity. He has the support of the majority of the 55 Republican County Chairs. He would be the fresh face going forward for the WVGOP. He would support the entire Republican Party platform, including the socially conservative bills.
The Family Policy Council recommends Harris as a candidate for chairman.
Former Chairman of the West Virginia Republican Party
The Family Policy Council recommends Lucas as a candidate for chairman.
Interim Chairman, WVGOP
Roman Stauffer was appointed by former Chairwoman Melody Potter to Deputy Chair against the consultation of the Family Policy Council. He has served as Acting Chairman of the West Virginia Republican Party since her resignation. He only assumed the interim position on January 11, 2021. He recently managed the re-election campaign of West Virginia Governor Jim Justice. The Chamber of Commerce would find him favorable. Stauffer would not promote the faith-based policies on traditional marriage and human sexuality within the Republican Party platform.
The Family Policy Council urges a NO VOTE on Stauffer as a candidate for chairman.
Former Wood County WV Republican Chairman
Cornelius is a sports broadcaster and a longtime Republican activist. His wife handles communications for the Republican-controlled state Senate. Cornelius was removed as Wood County Chairman by state party Chairman Melody Potter in a contentious interaction that resulted in litigation against Potter and the WVGOP. He built a reputation of courageously calling out ethical failures with elected Republican officials, and he possesses a passion that will be necessary to fight the decaying American political environment. However, he spent most of his tenure mired in controversy and is not viewed by most committee voters as a real candidate.
The Family Policy Council cannot recommend Cornelius as a candidate for chairman.
Straight Ticket Republican voting doesn’t mean anything in the upcoming 2022 primary, however. You gotta know more than color. Voters must grasp that West Virginia has changed shades, and the real vote for who runs things is in the primary now. Not understanding which “Republican” is which and what they really stand for will likely get a bunch of progressive Democrats elected or re-elected in 2022, disguised in Republican uniforms (some got elected this way in 2020).
The Republican Party officials have much work to do at the primary level to tighten up who gets elected wearing red, and they have no current mechanism in place to do that.
So what happens when all 100 West Virginia State House members finally flip over to Republican? How will the May 2022 primary voters know the good guys from the bad guys when they’re asked to re-elect or boot them just 16 months from now?
Official WVGOP Pre-Primary Candidate Survey
The Family Policy Council recommends that the new party officials require all Republican candidates to fill out an official candidate questionnaire based on theWest Virginia Republican Party Platform. The candidates must score 80% on 100 questions covering multiple planks of the platform. The law doesn’t allow for the WVGOP to prevent a candidate from running as a Republican. But the party can announce the score of the survey to primary voters, and party officials can choose not to certify the candidate or recommend them based on their score. Other states like Alabama’s GOP do something similar, and this approach would provide a level of vetting of Republican candidates that does not currently exist in West Virginia. For evaluation of incumbents, an annual scorecard should be published evaluating their voting record compared to the party platform.
Note that Republican and Democrat primaries are going to be simpler in 2022 because there will be 100 newly drawn individual districts. Currently there are only 67 districts, with several districts electing multiple members to represent the same district. It’s time for Republican voters to take notes on their elected members so when they run one-on-one next time, there will be a staunch conservative challenger to those current incumbents who got elected by hiding their true policy positions on faith, family, and freedom issues.
There are various interests and factions, both good and very bad, for faith, family, and freedom. All exist within the Republican caucus in the West Virginia House of Delegates. Please help us to keep you informed.
We hope this overview assists Republican primary voters in 2022. They must better understand the various political interests within the broad Republican membership. Do you know which factions your candidate leans towards? Til then, during the next two sessions, faith voters can use this information to better lobby the Republicans in the House of Delegates.