By Ron Gregory
KERMIT — Despite the threat of rain and high humidity, a large crowd turned out Saturday for the Democrat Women’s picnic at Kermit.
Although the event was scheduled for a 1:30 p.m. start, the majority of the crowd arrived late. Once there, the congregation grew in numbers, filling the picnic tables waiting for a buffet-style meal.
Women’s President Helen Childers emceed the afternoon events, welcoming the crowd to kick this off. She noted, during her presentation, that state Sen. Truman Chafin and his wife, Letitia, were not present due to an illness in the family. Childers also recognized political candidates in attendance.
Later, Childers said she would “make this a meet-the-candidate event” and called upon those seeking election to speak.
Incumbent U.S. Rep. Nick Joe Rahall, who had been expected to attend, was unable to do so, Childers told those in attendance. He was represented, however, by Ethan Curry, who distributed support cards, maintaining that “those who fill out the cards are more likely to vote for us.” Yard signs, bumper stickers and other Rahall campaign material was located at a nearby table.
State senators Art Kirkendoll and Ron Stollings told the crowd they were thankful for being able to represent the people of Mingo County in the legislature. Stollings, who is running for re-election this year, added that he is urging support for Rahall.
“If the election is good for Congressman Rahall, it will be good for me and you,” he said.
Stollings and Kirkendoll spoke of Rahall’s experience in Congress and each added that they work well with his Republican opponent.
“But there was just an election in which Josh Barker, our Democrat colleague in the House of Delegates, lost by one vote,” Kirkendoll said. “Nick Joe will win if Democrats get out and vote. We need to be sure that happens.”
Stollings said that, while the economy must be more diversified, he sees a “bright future for Southern West Virginia.”
As is usually the case in West Virginia, none of the speakers made any attempt to express support for Democrat President Barack Obama. In fact, Kirkendoll appeared to speak for most when he said, “While we aren’t happy with what’s going on in Washington” regarding Obama’s “war on coal, we will have a new president in two years.” The president is vastly unpopular in the Mountain State.
Mingo County Clerk “Big Jim” Hatfield, who carried a large watermelon to the picnic, chose not to speak. He is a Democrat nominee for county commissioner this year.
After hearing from the candidates and feasting on the food brought for the event, the crowd quickly dispersed as rain fell later Saturday.