The GOP-controlled legislature passed right-to-work and a repeal of prevailing wage rules for government projects in West Virginia. Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, a Democrat, promptly vetoed both. And the legislature then just as promptly overrode his veto on both on strictly partisan lines (in West Virginia you only need a simple majority to do that). Excellent news!
…And it represents a lot of work. A lot of effort – a lot of patient, frustrating, and decidedly not glamorous effort – went into breaking the Democratic party’s stranglehold on the government of West Virginia. People in the West Virginian Republican party have been trying to get to this point for decades. I mean that literally: as the Washington Post noted in 2014, we hadn’t had control of the West Virginia House of Delegates for eighty years. But a rising tide lifts all boats. The general movement towards the Republican party in state and federal elections nationwide pulled along West Virginia for the ride… and lo! Now that the West Virginia GOP is in a position to do something, they’ve done something. As has happened across the country, in fact.
The other X factor at play here is the Obama administration’s relentless assault on the coal industry, which has hit West Virginia disproportionately hard. When the supposedly labor friendly party is purposely destroying the jobs that brought most of the residents to unions in the first place, it’s difficult to continue making the “one big, happy family” sales pitch. The Big Labor playbook in most states that have passed right-to-work recently is to demonize Republicans and portray them as being uncaring about the plight of “working Americans.”
That rings very hollow when it is the top-ranking Democrat in the country who just took your job away.