In Berkeley Springs, a union backed Republican pulled off one of the biggest upsets in West Virginia’s primary yesterday.
George Miller defeated Delegate Daryl Cowles 1,675 (52 percent) to 1,550 (48 percent) in the Republican primary. He will face Democrat Tom Harden in November.
At a candidates’ forum last month sponsored by WRNR, Miller was asked by David Welch “what’s your message to Republican voters when you have virtually every one of the labor unions who favor Democratic policies supporting you – how do you expect to talk to Republican voters in a way that would defeat Daryl Cowles?”
“I feel very honored for that,” Miller said. “I’ve been in unions. I know what they are. I know how they work. They have backed me. I will back them. I will tell the Republican Party that I will do what I think is right. I will talk with you. I will use your input to make decisions. But if the unions need me, I will stand shoulder to shoulder with them.”
Cowles defended his party’s generally anti-union positions – including prevailing wage, right to work and charter schools.
Miller said he was not in favor of charter schools, he was in favor of prevailing wage, but he was against right to work.
Miller was asked about his life’s history.
“I’m originally from Pennsylvania,” Miller said. “I started by getting into officiating. That gave me a good way to look at things fairly. I’m 67. I ran a home improvement business for twenty some years before going to school to work. I needed retirement. That’s why I was there. And I was there for 32 years. I ended up as a maintenance supervisor in Morgan County. I taught Sunday School, men’s class. I continued my officiating down here, just the basketball side of it.”
“Using that and using the licenses I have, I think I would be a good candidate for the position, knowing the construction side as well as the school law side.”
Miller was asked by Joe Ferretti – what did you learn on those jobs that will give your constituents confidence that you will be an effective delegate for them?
“What I learned – listen to people,” Miller said. “I needed to listen to them on the job. You have to be up front with people from the get go. And if you are, you won’t have any problems. I’m letting the people know what I stand for and then go from there.”
Miller was asked – first day of the legislature – what would you do to improve the quality of education?
“I’m going to be lost when I go to Charleston,” Miller said. “I’m going to try to hit the ground running. Education is a very big thing. We need it. We’ve all been there. I can’t see bringing in charter schools when the state is going to have to take care of them anyway. The teacher salary is the biggest thing. They need more money. You can go ten minutes either way here and make $7,000 or $8,000 more a year. We need to upgrade the teachers’ pay here and stand behind them.”
“When I went through school, I did enough just to get through. Looking back, that was the wrong thing to do.”
Working in the schools, Miller said, “I got a lot of time to talk with the children.”
“They will open up to you and they will let you know what is going on in the schools. Using that information that I obtained from the kids and working around them and working with the administrators, I got a pretty good idea of what’s going on there.”
“If you want something, you are going to have to pay for it. Are you going to buy a jacket from Wal-Mart to go to a big show? Or are you going to stop at a men’s store and pick up a jacket? No brainer.”
Rob Mario asked Miller – what is your main reason for challenging Daryl Cowles?
“I lost a son to opioids,” Miller said. “I would like to work on that. It’s very close to me of course. He had difficulty though his whole life. I don’t know what happened. Obviously, he took the wrong turn. It cost not only him, but us the heartache there. And we need to do something about that.”
Cowles has been a big proponent of the controversial 522 bypass around Berkeley Springs.
Miller pushed back against that position in his closing statement.
“There are other roads that need repair,” Miller said. “The trucks are getting heavier. The loads are getting heavier. The trucks are getting longer.”
“I have never held an office before,” Miller said. “A lot of people are helping me through this thing.”