I wrote earlier at MyDD about the contradictory nature of West Virginia and the West Virginia presidential primary race.

Yesterday provided a great example.

In my earlier post

West Virginia is a state of contradictions. Take the Eastern Panhandle, where one of the fastest growing counties in the country is located. It has become an outer suburb of Washington, D.C., with large McMansions built not far from dilapidated house trailers. Or McDowell County, the core of Appalachia. If any county fits the stereotypical view, it is McDowell. Yet it is the home of State Del. Clif Moore, an African American and a defender of a bill to extend anti-discrimination protection to gay people.

And a state that touts its natural beauty also is busy allowing the coal companies to literally destroy the mountains and hollows, using more explosive force than was used at Hiroshima through mountaintop removal.

To continue forward with the contradictory nature of the state,  polls consistently have showed Sen. Hillary Clinton with a commanding lead if she faced John McCain in the general and against Sen. Barack Obama in the primary. Yet two of the state’s biggest political names, Sen. Jay Rockefeller and Rep. Nick Rahall have endorsed Barack Obama and the grassroots support has seemed to consistently favor Obama (here’s one example).

While Obama is trailing in all of the polls in West Virginia by a large margin, the Obama supporters appear to be more active than the Sen. Hillary Clinton supporters. Whether that will translate into an Obama win in the primary is doubtful, but if Obama is the nominee it will give him a better ramp up for the general election race than Al Gore or John Kerry had since their races were decided long before the West Virginia primary mattered.

The West Virginia Democratic county conventions are on April 12. It’s a new and confusing process to many to pick delegates to the state convention in Charleston.

The West Virginia Democratic Party has done a solid job of informing Democrats statewide of the convention process through emails, news releases and state party field workers.

The state party also has been sending out emails of organizing meetings and events for both parties.

Chelsea Clinton appeared in West Virginia on Saturday for three campaign events, including guest speaker at the West Virginia Young Democrats Convention.

Here’s an excerpt of the coverage from Huntington:

Huntington, WV (HNN) – A poised, relaxed former First Daughter spent approximately 75 minutes answering questions from Marshall University student and community members. Unlike many speakers on behalf of candidates, Chelsea Clinton delivered specific and technical answers, rather than simple generalities.

Here’s from her appearance at WVU Tech:

– A second President Clinton, she said, would “immediately start greening” the federal government – making government buildings and operations more environmentally friendly and creating jobs in the process – and ultimately cutting emissions 20 to 30 percent.

– On the country’s future energy use, she said there is an “abundance of incredible natural resources (including coal) in our country.” More emphasis must be placed on developing clean-burning coal. Her mother, she added, would “take away tax breaks” given in 2005 to energy companies and install a “windfall profits tax.”

Here’s from her final event at the West Virginia Young Democrats convention:

Chelsea Clinton ended a whole day in the Mountain State on Friday talking bread-and-butter issues with a crowd at the Charleston Civic Center, in support of her mother’s presidential campaign.

At the kickoff of the West Virginia Young Democrats convention, the 28-year-old Clinton said that she’s very proud of her father, the nation’s 42nd president, but thinks her mother would be better in the job.

“She’s more prepared than he was,” she said of her mother, Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y.

snip

Travis Mollohan, a district coordinator for the Young Democrats, said he was somewhat disappointed in the event’s turnout of about 130 people.

“I had hoped to see more young people here,” he said. “That may [be due] to the fact that more young people are committed to Obama.”

The organization reached out to both campaigns, but Clinton’s visit logistically worked out for the start of the convention, said Young Democrats President Rod Snyder.

“[Chelsea Clinton] is one of the most visible young Democrats in the country,” he said. “Everyone’s excited, regardless of who they’re supporting.”

Snyder, whose father former State Sen. Herb Snyder is seeking to regain an office he held previously, really nailed it with this:

He said the close Democratic primary race is energizing the party, especially young Democrats.

Meanwhile, the Obama supporters held a dozen meetings across the state for organizing efforts for the May 13 primary. Another half dozen other upcoming meetings are on the schedule.

For the record, I’ll support whoever the Democratic nominee is.

I attended the Obama meetup yesterday in Martinsburg where a group of of Obama grassroots supporters have met for the past eight weeks. I’ve canvassed with several of Obama’s supporters in past elections.

There were 30 people there for the two hour meeting on a sunny spring day.

The new regional field director from the Obama campaign introduced herself. She’s a West Virginia native who worked as a Peace Corps volunteer in Bulgaria.

Since there were new faces – myself included – at the meeting, they had people introduce themselves and explain why they supported Obama.

I wrote down a few of their words and will include a bit of demographic information about the speaker for identification purposes.

“The America I came home to is a country so different. I’m here to take back my country,” a white female in her 30s who lived in London from 2000-2003.

“He seems to keep everything on a positive note,” a retired white man from Martinsburg, who so far has volunteered in four states for Obama, including Texas.

“I remember FDR. He was my hero growing up. I remember JFK. He was my children’s hero growing up…. I think Barack Obama would make a wonderful president,” a retired nurse, white female.

“My wife was killed in the Pentagon on 9/11,” a middleaged white man, who said the federal government squandered the unity to go after those responsible. I had trouble writing down everything he said because it was touching.

“In the beginning I was for Clinton, but things aren’t going so well. I don’t like where the campaign is going. I want to know more about Obama,” older white woman.

“He’s got all the right ideas,” a middleaged white woman and canvassing buddy who was a former Dennis Kucinich supporter.

“Hillary always says, ‘I will do this. I will do that.’ But Barack always says, ‘We will do this,'” a middleaged white male and husband of my canvassing buddy, who also described himself as a yellow-dog Democrat.

My blogmate Clem does an excellent job explaining the West Virginia Democratic primary process.

One final thought… if this process seems kindof sortof messed up to you… you know, like the fact that the delegate count could end up being a rather inexact reflection of the popular vote… two things to keep in mind:

(1) These were the rules everyone knew about at the beginning of the process… there were no strong voices advocating for more little “d” democracry inside the W.Va. Democratic party before this nominating process started. If it bothers you, start voicing your concerns immediately after election day to change how things happen next time around.

(2) No one expected the W.Va. primary outcome to matter when these rules were put together. The rules were drafted  with a major concern about who gets to attend the convention instead of who they represent once they get there.

He also breaks down the math in a separate post to explain that even if Clinton runs away with the West Virginia primary vote, she’ll most likely still pick up either 0 or 2 delegates.

The W.Va. delegate plan requires a victory of more than 58.3% of the vote in a single congressional district for a two delegate margin in a congressional district. A state-wide vote total of 55% or more is needed to pick-up a two delegate at-large advantage.

At this point, I give the Clinton 15 Obama 13 scenario a 70% likelihood of occurring with the remaining 30% being a 14-14 delegate tie.

Don’t forget upcoming events:

April 12, 2008 : County Democratic Conventions in each county to elect Delegates to the State Convention. All Democrats welcome in their respective county. Call your County Chair or the State Party (304) 342-8121 for location information.

April 22, 2008 : Last Day to Register to Vote in the Primary Election.

April 23, 2008 : Early Voting Begins

May 13, 2008 : PRIMARY ELECTION

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