Sept. 27, 2010
EDITORIAL: Given Governor Manchin's Yacht, Is He One Of Us?

Despite all of John Raese's contributions to the state's economy, Raese has been called "out of touch" by Governor Joe Manchin in his negative TV ads. Nevermind that Raese is constantly interacting with his limestone foremen and other employees. Nevermind that he enjoys talking with other festival goers while quietly buying a 4-Her's steer at the Jackson County Fair or the upcoming Preston County Buckwheat Festival.
Yes, West Virginians have seen a lot more of John Raese out on the campaign trail these past few months than Governor Manchin.
Maybe that's because Governor Manchin, the great "man of the people," is out enjoying his yacht and private aircraft. And don't forget the expensive motorcycles.
Or perhaps the Governor and Mrs. Manchin have been rarely seen on the campaign trail this year for another reason. They might have been busy throwing yet another party at taxpayers' expense at the Governor's Mansion, which we renovated at the Manchins' request to the tune of $3.36 million. That's no small change during hard times.
A case could be made that Manchin can afford his yacht and private aircraft for one main reason: because we're paying the bills for his lavish lifestyle at the Governor's Mansion in Charleston. He's got free food, free housing, and part of that multimillion dollar renovation to the Governor's Mansion included the purchase of seventeen flat-screen TVs.
We doubt that even John Raese has that many in his home at Cheat Lake. He might make do with one or two, but seventeen? Why, Jay Rockefeller himself may not even have that many in his D.C. home.
We aren't quite sure what Governor Manchin does with seventeen flatscreen TVs in one home, but we have a feeling that he may be walking from room to room, watching a DVD of the latest Marshall-WVU football game, one of his proudest achievements while in office.
So who is really more likely to be out of touch with the needs of the average West Virginian? The CEO from Morgantown who goes to work every day and pays his own bills out of his own checking account? Or the guy who absorbs the taxpayers' largesse and shows his new yacht off during his reign as Governor to all those of us who don't own a sailboat, let alone a 54 foot yacht?
These days, we're thinking that the public across West Virginia appreciates any gesture from any candidate to do his part to help defray taxpayer costs, not increase them. What they do on their own time with their own money is up to them.
As a result, Manchin is certainly entitled to some fun with his private yacht, his airplane, his motorcycles. What a person does with their own money is fine with most people. However, the abuse of the taxpayers' money is what really gets under our skin.
For his part, John Raese has pledged that he will not take a salary if elected to the U.S. Senate. While that won't solve the deficit, it's a decent gesture, one that says that he's in the boat with the rest of us during this recession.
We haven't yet heard from the lips of that great man of the people, Skipper Joe Manchin.

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