Trump and West Virginia Were Destiny

The 2024 West Virginia Primary Election is still nearly a year away, but 42 percent of the Republican members of the state Legislature have already publicly committed to support former President Donald Trump.

Boone County Republican Delegate Josh Holstein, with permission from the Trump campaign, secured commitments from 40 delegates and 10 senators to sign on to a letter endorsing Trump.

“I wanted to channel the voice of my constituents that are very strongly in support of President Trump,” Holstein told me on Talkline Thursday.  “I thought it would be a good idea to show our support for the former President in his re-election run.”

Give Holstein this; he can read the room. Seventy-five percent of Boone County voters backed Trump in both 2016 and 2020.  Statewide, Trump carried every county in both elections, with 69 percent of the vote both times.

As of today, Trump is the clear front-runner in the state. A recent poll by the East Carolina University Center for Survey Research found 54 percent of Primary Election voters favor Trump. The next closest candidate is Ron DeSantis with just nine percent.

“Most of the folks wanted to sign on rather quickly and were happy to do so,” Holstein said. “There were some who didn’t want to weigh into the primary. There were a few, maybe four, that told me they had a different candidate preference.”

The letter states, “We the members of the West Virginia State Legislature believe President Donald J. Trump is the proven candidate best capable to govern our country and secure a better future for all Americans.”

I take the legislators and Trump voters at their word that they believe the country is suffering under President Biden and the Democrats, and that it is essential to return to Trump as the guardian of “American energy independence, national security, fiscal responsibility, and the sanctity of life,” as their letter states. However, there is more to it.

One of the less endearing attributes of West Virginians is our habit of harboring grievances. Some may be well-earned, given a state history replete with hardship and injustices that have been passed down through generations.

But others are of our own creation. Media and political provocateurs trigger outrage, often about stories or issues that have little or nothing to do with our daily lives, but that make us feel as though we are under attack. And when you feel besieged, it helps to have someone on your side. Victims—real or imagined—look for advocates.

This is where Trump comes in.

As Trump said during a speech at CPAC last March, “I am your warrior. I am your justice. And for those who have been wronged and betrayed: I am your retribution [emphasis added].”  It is a perfect line for those who want more than a fair shake from their politicians; they desire revenge.

New York Times opinion writer Bret Stephens put it this way:

“The Trump movement isn’t built on the prospect of winning.  It’s built on a sense of belonging: of being heard and seen; of being a thorn in the side to those you sense despise you and whom you despise in turn; of submission for the sake of representation. All the rest—victory or defeat, prosperity or misery—is details.”

Donald Trump and West Virginia were destined to find each other, and once that happened, they became joined in a way that only strengthens over time.

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