Most people can list common stereotypes of West Virginians. After all, academia and the media perpetuated them for years. Demographically, the state is merely described as overwhelmingly white. Many would add uneducated, insular, suspicious, misogynist, and a number of other three and four syllable words that add up to what West Virginians call "backwards." In other words, they spread the smear that West Virginia Republicans are resentful of advancing women and are inherently racist.
Nationally, Democrats and other leftists work tirelessly to attach the same stereotype to the GOP as a whole. In both cases they are wrong. Elections over the past ten years prove it.
Do West Virginians, and Republicans in particular, mistrust immigrants who come, live, and thrive here legally? State Republicans have nominated at least three first or second generation immigrants to important offices. In 2006, second generation Lebanese-American Chris Wakim was nominated and strongly supported by the Republican base and independents. Left wing conventional wisdom assumes that Republicans are racist and West Virginians even more so, but Wakim's ancestry was no issue for GOP voters.
Two years later, state Republicans nominated Charleston businessman and Nigerian immigrant Charles Minimah for secretary of state. Minimah, who also works to promote black history and cultural events in the Kanawha Valley, again garnered Republican and independent support despite a huge funding discrepancy between him and his opponent. This year, he is in a tightly contested race for the 37th delegate district in Charleston. Republicans often cite his experience, kindness, and honesty when talking about their support for him.
Just this month, Republicans in the West Virginia Second District nominated Alex Mooney for Congress. Voters responded positively to the story of his mother's escape from Cuban tyranny as forming part of the foundation for his ideals. National predictions still see the district as "lean Republican."
As for the national liberal "War on Women" scheme to tar the party, the Mountain State shatters that myth too. For many years, Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito and former secretary of state Betty Ireland served as pillars of leadership for the state GOP. Ireland has since stepped back, while Capito is expected to cruise to victory in her US Senate race.
Also if state legislative races show anything, it's that the good ol' "boy" network of the Democratic Party remains alive and well. Fifty percent more women ran in state senate and delegate races on the Republican side than the Democratic. Many of them, including several incumbents, won their primaries or ran unopposed. Seventeen year old Saira Blair received national and international attention for upsetting her primary opponent.
Democrats, mostly white male Protestant liberals in positions of influence, will rush out the tired old tales of Republicans being racist and hating women. But the truth is not what is said, but what is done. The West Virginia Republican Party has attracted and supported more female and minority candidates than its Democratic counterparts due to its more inclusive atmosphere and its more effective set of ideals.