The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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November 8, 2012

Republicans take control of Raleigh

Welcome to Raleigh County. Paint it red.

Need proof?

Just examine the returns from Tuesday’s general election, and it’s all there.

Not only did voters fill four of the five House of Delegates seats with Republicans, but handed the GOP a 2-1 majority on the county commission with the election of Linda Epling.

 What’s more, even though he wound up losing the 3rd Congressional District race, Republican Rick Snuffer handily defeated veteran Democratic Rep. Nick Rahall in their home county by outpolling him, 16,159 to 11,405 votes.

“The citizens of Raleigh County obviously want a change,” Commissioner Dave Tolliver said in the wake of the outcome.

Two years ago, Tolliver bucked the odds and upended Democrat John Humphrey in his re-election effort, and now Epling’s easy triumph over Sherrie Hunter gives the Republicans control of commission matters, if they are decided along partisan lines.

“They’re getting more conservative,” Tolliver said of county voters.

Four years ago, he said, Democrats held a commanding lead in voter registration, but since then, Republicans have gained sizable ground, and, by combining those listed as not affiliated with any party, are on an even political keel.

“The people have spoken,” Tolliver said. “It is what it is.”

Without elaborating, Tolliver predicted a new approach by the commission, abandoning “some of the practices that went on in the past.”

Two questions arise in the aftermath of the balloting.

One logical question is Humphrey’s standing as county administrator, a job handed him after his defeat at the hands of Tolliver, a hiring that was approved when the commission was 2-1 in favor of Democrats.

“I don’t know,” Tolliver said, when asked if Humphrey’s job is in jeopardy.

“That’s something all three commissioners will have to sit down and discuss. It’s just too early in the game. We need to sit down and discuss several things.”

Another matter is that of the commission president, presumably to be filled by either Tolliver or Epling in January, since the other member, Pat Reed, is a Democrat and now in the minority.

“I hope we can work together, and do what’s best for the citizens of Raleigh County, and I mean that dearly,” Tolliver said of the new commission.

“And I hope we can be good stewards of the taxpayers’ money.”

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