The Spineless Six: West Virginia Republican Senate Leadership

The Spineless Six: West Virginia Republican Senate Leadership

MARCH 25, 2015 BY SHANE VANDER HART

The gloves have now come off. There are six people responsible for the fiasco in West Virginia. This is a profile in cowardice. These six men snatched defeat from the jaws of victory as the West Virginia House sent them an excellent bill that passed that chamber with a 75 to 19 bipartisan vote which they in turn ruined.

These six men took that bill and made it absolutely worthless. All six are worthy of a primary challenge.

Senate President Bill Cole (R-Preston 14)
Senator Mitch Carmichael, Majority Leader (R-Jackson 04)
Senator Mike Hall, Finance Chairman (R-Putnam 04)
Senator Dave Sypolt, Education Chair (R-Preston 14)
Senator Jeff Mullins, Finance Committee (R-Raleigh 09)
Senator Greg Boso, Education Committee (R-Nicholas 11)

Here is what I heard from activists in West Virginia.

First, Senate Education Committe Chair Dave Sypolt went behind closed doors in a weekend meeting with Governor-appointed-freshmam, State Senator Greg Boso and the State Superintendent Michael Martirano that resulted in an amendment that stripped out the “repeal” language, and left the bill as a study by the superintendent.

Second, Senate Finance Committee Chair Mike Hall seemed to back away from his previous public railings against Common Core. Senator Hall did say he would ask for a line by line analysis of the $128 million DOE attached fiscal note, but no one knows if he really did. Activists tell me they have repeatedly asked for a copy, but it has never been supplied.

Third, the bill then went to the full senate where State Senator Robert Plymale (D-Wayne 05) threw the final dagger with an amendment to remove the Smarter Balanced Assessment language. (Plymale held the Education Commitee Chair position for several years and blocked Common Core opposition efforts the past 2 years). Plymale’s dagger was driven in by State Senator Mullins and the Republican Majority Leader Mitch Carmichael who stood with the Democrats to complete the neutering of the bill.

Ultimately if there was one person who should get the blame for the repeal failure it should be Senate President Bill Cole who never gave Common Core the priority it deserved, and failed to listen to the thousands of voices crying out for repeal across West Virginia. It was State Senator Bill Cole who came in with his own education agenda of charter schools for which there was no public outcry at all. It was State Senator Bill Cole who failed to demand repeal from the majority he leads. It was State Senator Bill Cole, who rumor has it, has his eye on the Governor’s mansion. Which is something West Virginia voters should remember.