By Mannix Porterfield
It began and ended as a gentlemen’s agreement to keep the battle on the high ground, devoid of personal attacks, in the race for state Senate in the 9th District.
When the dust settled Tuesday, Delegate Daniel Hall, the Democrat, stood in the winner’s circle, easily holding off Epp Cline, a retired school teacher.
“I carried Wyoming County, so I guess that’s the consolation prize,” Cline quipped.
In fact, he pointed out, he became only the third Republican to carry Wyoming in a county-wide race since President Herbert Hoover’s administration.
Hall, a claims adjuster for Nationwide Insurance, and Cline, both live in the same Wyoming County town of Oceana, and by a mutual understanding, agreed to keep their race on the high road for the two-county district.
“I’m very appreciative of the victory,” Hall said as the final votes came in. “And I thank the people of the district.”
Less than a week before the votes were counted, the two men chatted by telephone and agreed to keep the pledge right up to the last day of campaigning.
Cline is a retired history instructor in the Wyoming County education system and ran on a platform of traditional Republican values.
Months earlier, in the Democratic primary, the 9th District became a battleground and volleys were fired with abandon by incumbent Sen. Richard Browning and the challenger Hall, who had won two terms in the House of Delegates.
Raleigh County, the other part of the district, is represented by Sen. Mike Green, a fellow Democrat, who appeared in television ads with Hall, further evidence of unrest within the Senate leadership.
Green was stripped of a leadership role as chairman of the Energy, Industry and Mining Committee after he unsuccessfully challenged Sen. Jeffrey Kessler, D-Marshall, for the Senate presidency and criticized Browning for not supporting him. Browning was Kessler’s majority whip.
“I can work with Mike Green,” Hall said. “We’ll be a good team and work for the people of this district.”
Cline suggested that Hall’s work will be cut out for him, saying President Barack Obama’s re-election will make things tougher for him because of the president’s anti-coal agenda that will force more curtailment in the industry, thus depriving West Virginia’s coffers of more operating capital.
“I’m disappointed I didn’t win,” Cline said, “but I’m more disappointed that Barack Obama got elected president.”