John Raese is a candidate for the United States Senate from West Virginia. His home county, Monongalia, (also where The UMOC  resides) recently enacted a smoking ban in most places of public accommodations: bars, restaurants, and workplaces.

This new policy had drawn numerous comments on both sides. Oddly some of the letters to the editor I have read are from smokers who approve of the ban, and non-smokers who object.

The kicker here is that newspaper is owned by the Raese family and John’s brother David is its publisher.

I’ll allow as there is room for legitimate disagreement on this issue, though I much favor the new law. I have never used tobacco in my life and hate returning home smelling like a chimney if I’ve been in an establishment where many patrons are smoking.

John Raese, though, in his opposition to the ban, possibly catering to what he believes is his electoral base, has likened the ban and the requirement that “smoke free” notices need be posted where applicable, to the Nazis mandating that Jews display the Star of David.

“But in Monongalia County now, I have to put a huge sticker on my buildings to say this is a smoke-free environment. This is brought to you by the government of Monongalia County. Okay?” he said. “Remember Hitler used to put Star of David on everybody’s lapel, remember that? Same thing.”

Later on in the video, Raese calls President Franklin D. Roosevelt “General Roosevelt” and “Fidel Roosevelt.”

(Incidentally, John, you seem to equate the Nazis with the Communists and accuse FDR of being both. Those groups hated each other.)

Now the Raese family has been prominent in the Morgantown area for years. Various of its business enterprises operate a steel mill, a limestone quarry, the aforementioned newpaper, a chain of radio stations across the state, and a statewide news service.

I do not know about John himself, but members of the family have been very generous with their time and money assisting the community. His father, Dyke Raese, was the basketball coach at WVU when it won its only national title (prior to March Madness) with its NIT victory in 1942.

Those are the positives.

The negative can be boiled down to two words:



Often those words are paired together.

If Raese is the Republican candidate this year, he again will be facing Joe Manchin, who won his current Senate seat in 2010 in a special election to succeed the late Robert C. Byrd. During that campaign he, like all his GOP brethren, disparaged the Affordable Care Act, not with reasoned opinions but with blatant lies.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) ranks West Virginia dead last in percentage of adult smokers. As the CDC deems smoking harmful, that means W.Va. has the highest percentage. It stands at 26.5%.

Though that figure is highest of any state it still is barely more than one-quarter of adults, the same age group (over 18) that is permitted to vote.

Raese is further out of touch with what has occurred elsewhere in the country as a number of states and localities have banned smoking to some extent. That includes tobacco producing states like North Carolina, Virginia and Kentucky. It includes New York City, itself with a population four times that of this state.

Besides being out of touch, Raese also deviates from the mantra of Republicans/conservatives that encourages state and local action as opposed to federal laws.

But the reason the sobriquet “asshole” applies here is that, whatever one thinks about smoking bans, they do not descend to the level of the Nazis in their drive into the Holocaust.

On the other hand, John Raese himself has plunged to the depths of despicability in his unfounded, unwarranted, and unwanted comparisons to one of the darkest eras in human history.

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