STEPHEN SMITH | Part 2: Why We Endorse Stephen Smith for WV Governor


West Virginia gubernatorial candidate Stephen Smith chats with W.Va. House of Delegates member Danielle Walker (D-Monongalia) at a “Pop Up” Pride Parade in Huntington WV on June 6, 2020. | West VirginiaVille.com photo

It goes without saying that elections matter. But it needs to be said again and again to folks who think their vote matters little. You need only look around at an America in convulsions right now see that how people voted in 2016 has affected the quality of every single citizen’s life on this sunny June day four years later.

That is why we raise our newly planted web magazine flag in the rich soil of WestVirginiaVille and urge you to vote for Stephen Smith for governor of West Virginia, in tomorrow’s 2020 Democratic primary

I quite realize that few will care or notice that a teensy online feature magazine called WestVirginiaVille.com, now (checks notes) 17 days old, which publishes from a backwater burg in a backwater state, has announced its endorsement for governor of West Virginia.


RELATED: Our “Conversations” Interview with Stephen Smith on His Long-distance, Grass-Roots Run for West Virginia Governor


But as the great Huntington Herald-Dispatch investigative reporter Tom Miller told me once as a cub reporter overwhelmed by the odds of pulling off my first investigative series: “Go with what you’ve got.”

What we’ve got is a small megaphone with a big message: West Virginia is in sore need of systemic change. And Stephen Smith and his campaign are the only ones who seems to have thought deeply about how to get that ball rolling.

I will let the video interview I did with him (click here or see below) speak for itself. Our “Conversations” interview will offer insights into Smith’s thinking and his grass-roots approach, focused on constituencies of conscience.

I am no ga-ga fan of Stephen’s. I think the red bandana thing was ill-advised, or at least was nice recruitment signalling for kick-ass young volunteers which, if he gets through the primary, should be jettisoned—the bandanas, I mean, NOT the kick-ass young volunteers—as he needs to tack a little to the center. (Yes, I am one of those who believe the perfect progressive can be the enemy of the good one, when it comes to electability).


I also was surprised when I asked about his political mentors and guiding lights. The fact he immediately mentioned the guy who helped pull off the logistics of Martin Luther King’s March on Washington, instead of, like, say King, himself, or a fellow progressive political figure, gave me an insight—I think—into who is.

He is, as he will be the first to say, a constituency and campaign builder, one who is attempting a movement. It’s not about him, he will repeat, which is why his “W.Va. Can’t Wait” constituency groups around the state don’t bear his name.

That’s all well and good. And he has stuck to his guns, even if needing to navigate the tricky waters of being seen and treated with the kind of political adoration and halo awarded by young followers that once attached to Bobby Kennedy (after he’d gotten over his Mean Boy days.)

Or to Beto O’Rourke, a candidate adored by acolytes and segments of the progressive press, as has Smith by, for instance, The Intercept. (Here’s The Intercept’s second, most recent story on his campaign. And here’s the first, way back in March 2019.)

But bravo to Smith for running an insurgent, idealistic campaign that has garnered positive out-of-state attention to West Virginia. And his campaign has peaked at an intriguing time in the American political scene, fraught with craziness, proto-authoritarianism—and possibilities.

With so much ferment in America at the moment, it feels like there are possibilities for systemic change that were not even a glimmer at this time last year.

The Manchin machine candidate for governor is Ben Salongo, who seems like your usual okay, white-bread politico. But that’s not what we need in West Virginia. White bread is not very nutritious or healthy.

I should note that another thing I’ve had qualms about in the way Smith has framed his campaign is the constant chorus of how W.Va. Can’t Wait intends to up-end the “good old boy” networks. (Smith talks about it in our interview.) My concern is that some of his potential support has to come from the vast swath of people that the phrase “good old boys” takes in, when it comes to West Virginia.

I could be wrong. The older you get, the more you realize how easy it is to be wrong.

But I don’t think I am wrong in what I am about to write, as I mass the combined firepower of this web magazine’s massive three-person staff (so far) and 17-day-old media monolith of this website.

WestVirginiaVille endorses Stephen Smith for governor of the great state of West Virginia.

Vote on.

~ Douglas John Imbrogno


A WestVirginiaVille.com “Conversations” interview with W.Va. gubernatorial candidate Stephen Smith on June 6, 2020.

RELATED: See a transcript of this interview here.


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