In Gulf/Iraqi War terms...2012 could be the "mother of all political years".
Even people who have been living in caves know this is a presidential election year. But how it plays out in both West Virginia and Ohio may be even more interesting than who's running.
President Obama remains unpopular in West Virginia, meaning that, for an unprecdented fourth time in nearly the past century, the Mountain State, which maintains a two-to-one Democrat voter registration, could favor a Republican presidential candidate. Ohio may be a different story. The Buckeye State's economy remains rough, and it now has a Republican governor and legislature, but both are also unpopular, meaning Ohio could be another "battleground state" in a national election. And members of Congress are also up for re-election, including Ohio's U.S. Senator, Sherrod Brown.
Then there's West Virginia itself, which faces its third election year in a row, thanks to political change from the death of long-time senator Robert Byrd in 2010. This time, both Governor Earl Ray Tomblin and his predecessor, now-Senator Joe Manchin, face re-election this year for full terms of their respective offices. While Republican Bill Maloney, who narrowly lost to Tomblin for the remainder of the current term of governor last year, has indicated he may try for the office again, it's unclear what, if any, Republican might run against the popular Manchin. John Raese, who lost to Manchin in 2010, has indicated he isn't interested, but who among Raese's challengers...or anyone else...might be interested won't be known perhaps until the end of January.
Then, there are local offices. In 2008, the first year the Parkersburg and Vienna offices were on the ballot in leap years, Parkersburg Mayor Bob Newell and Vienna Mayor David Nohe easily won re-election. But, if web comments and letters to the editor are to be believed, Newell isn't as popular as he used to be. And Nohe, who also was elected to the West Virginia Senate in 2010, has indicated he will not run for the mayor's office again (again, with the filing for the May primary still to come this month). And add to those races elections for the city councils for both cities.
So what does this mean for the 10 months leading up to the November election? A lot more political coverage from the media (including WTAP) than has already taken place. And, yes, plenty of those political advertisements voters say they tune out and candidates insist people respond to.
So, if you're a political junkie, it's sure to be an exciting year. If not, you may think the day after election day (assuming there are no nail-biting "recounts") will mean Christmas will come early in 2012.