Thursday, September 28, 2017

Will The Anti-Trump/Anti-Ryan Tsunami Be High Enough To Reach Into West Virginia?


Many years ago People for the American Way chose me-- and Rob Reiner-- for Spirit of Liberty Awards. I was gobsmacked at the unexpected honor. The head of the PFAW office in Los Angeles at the time was a young woman named Kendra Huard and she helped me navigate preparations for the daunting award dinner and ceremony. And now, all these years later, Kendra is running for Congress... in a red, red, red West Virginia district where Trump beat Hillary 68.0% to 26.4%. And that's when the district's PVI was just R+14. Now it's an even more daunting R+19. But look at the bright side; Bernie beat Hillary in every single one of WV-01's 20 counties and in the biggest county in the district, Mon (short for Monongalia), Bernie's 8,096 vote win over Hillary's 4,963 votes was also a substantial win over Trump's 5,971 votes that day in the GOP primary. In fact, if you add up the votes of the top four Republicans on primary day-- Trumpanzee, Kasich, Cruz and Rubio-- their 7,972 votes combined doesn't even come to Bernie's total. So maybe it isn't completely hopeless... if the Democrats have the right candidate. Ah, yes, the right candidate. The establishment insiders have a multimillionaire Republican-lite Manchin type Democrat, Ralph Baxter; couldn't be further from Bernie. And that brings us back to Kendra, now Kendra Huard Fershee. I asked her to introduce herself with a guest post. (And if you like what she had to say, you can contribute to her campaign here.)

Why I Think I Can Beat a Republican Incumbent in the Heart of Trump Country
Kendra Huard Fershee,
Democratic Candidate for Congress, West Virginia 1st

Why do I think I can win an election as a Democrat in the heart of Trump country? Because this Democrat shares West Virginia’s values. West Virginians-- like all Americans-- believe in freedom. But you can’t be free if you don’t have health care. And you can’t be free if you don’t have a good job. And you can’t be free if you don’t have access to quality education for your family. In a time when many Americans who felt abandoned by their elected officials turned to people who fell outside the traditional political mold (as evidenced by the success of both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump) we need leaders who can connect with the values of the voters. In the West Virginia 2016 Democratic presidential primary, Bernie Sanders outperformed Hillary Clinton by more than 15 percentage points, and beat her by even higher percentages in most counties in the West Virginia First District. Also, and perhaps more importantly, in some counties in the district, Bernie Sanders earned more votes than Donald Trump in the Republican primary. These numbers show that West Virginians are yearning for real change.

West Virginians are, quite literally, struggling to survive. The drug addiction epidemic, a lack of healthcare, too many educational systems that do not have the resources to prepare people for a changing economy, and a near total lack of an economic base in countless communities all combine to make living in West Virginia incredibly difficult for families who have lived here for generations. This is heartbreaking for West Virginians because we love this wild and wonderful state fiercely and never want to leave. So, I’m ready to go to Washington to fight for our freedom to stay in West Virginia.

If you haven’t been here, you need to come, because West Virginia is the most beautiful state in the country. And the people are among the kindest you’ll ever meet. Despite all of our challenges, I’m incredibly optimistic about West Virginia’s potential right now. We are the most perfectly poised state in the country for a complete economic turnaround. We have rich soil, blue skies, and abundant water. We have beautiful little communities tucked in the hills, full of people who want to work. Working people here know how to work hard, and they value doing it. I know the potential of this incredible place because I live in a pocket of success that demonstrates what West Virginia can be. Morgantown is a small university town with good public schools, world-class health care facilities, and low unemployment rates. Yet even here, too many of our citizens lack the tools to succeed in school, the healthcare they deserve, and the training to get the jobs they want.

Despite the obvious challenges we face, we have a Representative in D.C. who doesn’t seem to understand that people are dying every day because they don’t have access to healthcare, and even if they could access it, they wouldn’t be able to afford it. He has no new ideas about how to build a diversified economic base, and he does not support public education. The hardworking people of West Virginia literally fueled the build of this country by hand and deserve better from our Representative.

I’m ready to go to Washington to fight for healthcare for everyone. I hear it from people all over the district; too many West Virginians are in a prison of ill health and drug addiction and we need a Representative who will treat our health crisis like the emergency that it is. At the same time, we know we need to support families and communities from the ground up. People who live in healthy, thriving communities are less likely to seek the escape of drugs because they have purpose and are fulfilled. We have our challenges, to be sure, but we can and will overcome them with an optimistic, open minded, and innovative leader. I am a working mom, a family law professor, a high-level law school administrator, and I am a West Virginian. I understand the struggles of working families and I can’t wait to champion them and this incredible state in Congress. I have no doubt that we West Virginians can turn this state around. Now I just need to get to Congress to be the advocate we need for the things we deserve. With your help, I will beat a Republican incumbent in the heart of Trump country.

To check out our web page and support Team Kendra, please go to or

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