Greenbrier County GOP Executive Committee hosts District 46 House of Delegates primary debate

By Matthew Young, RealWV

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. – The Greenbrier County GOP Executive Committee, on Thursday, hosted the second of two House of Delegates Republican primary debates. 

The second debate, held at the Schoolhouse Hotel in White Sulphur Springs, featured candidates Thomas Perkins, Trey Ewing, and incumbent Delegate Jeff Campbell of House District 46. Executive Committee Chairman Ben Anderson served as moderator for the evening. 

Read The RealWV’s coverage of the Greenbrier County GOP Executive Committee’s House of Delegates District 47 primary debate here. Watch the full Greenbrier County GOP Executive Committee’s House of Delegates District 47 primary debate on our Facebook page, or by clicking the link below:

To begin, each candidate was afforded four minutes for an opening statement. 

Campbell, who was appointed to the House by Gov. Jim Justice last September, told those in attendance, “I currently serve on four committees – economic development and tourism, technology and infrastructure, veterans and homeland security, and artificial intelligence.”

“I’m pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, pro-faith and family, pro-economic growth and jobs, and pro-common sense,” Campbell added. 

Ewing, while possessing no previous legislative experience, spoke of his time as vice-chair of the Greenbrier County Republican party, as well as his service to both the county and state Republican Executive Committees, adding, “I’m the treasurer of the West Virginia Young Republicans.”

“My big thing, at the end of the day, I’m a Christian,” Ewing noted. “I support Biblical values.”

Perkins, a photographer and owner of media outlet The Greenbrier Journal, told the audience, “I’m running for juvenile justice reform.”

“Right now what we have going on in our state is an epidemic,” Perkins said. “Many children who are taken from their families are put inside these juvenile treatment centers which serve as controlled pharmaceutical testing facilities.”

District 46 Delegate Jeff Campbell, Thomas Perkins, Trey Ewing, and Greenbrier County GOP Executive Committee Chairman Ben Anderson. Photo by Matthew Young, RealWV.

To open debate, Anderson asked the candidates a question similar to one posed to District 47 candidates on Tuesday: “Are you aware of the Greenbrier County Health Department’s needle exchange program? Do you support that program?”

Campbell, who was first to respond, said, “I’m not real familiar with that program.”

“I’d like to learn more about the program here locally before I can take a real hard position on that,” Campbell added. “I know it’s worked in some places, and some other places it has not.”

Perkins was next to provide his response, saying, “A lot of people associate needle exchange programs with drugs. The reality is that there’s a lot of people – seniors – who are actually diabetic, who use needles.”

“When grandma has to decide between buying her groceries and buying her needles, she’s going to buy her groceries,” Perkins continued. “In many cases what ultimately happens is she’ll end up taking her insulin with a dirty needle and getting an infection, and then she’s hospitalized.”

“Should we have needle exchange programs – a box of needles is essentially $100,” Perkins added. “A hospitalization for two weeks is $14,000. I mean, what do you want to pay for?”

Ewing was last to provide his answer.

“I’m not familiar with the specific program that’s been mentioned, but I do know overall needle exchange programs are not something I generally support,” Ewing said. “I don’t think we should enable that kind of behavior.”

“If somebody’s addicted to drugs, we shouldn’t just give them needles and send them on their way,” Ewing added. “We should help them, and have programs for them, and be there for them. […] The answer to it is the gospel. These people can only be changed by that – it’s the only thing that can change people.”

A question regarding term limits generated three very different responses. While both Ewing and Perkins support the idea of term limits, they do not agree on what the limit should be, with Ewing saying House members should be limited to two terms, and Perkins advocating for four. Campbell, however, believes the setting of specific term limits deprives voters of the right to select their chosen representative. 

When asked by Anderson if they are in favor of the Hope Scholarship, the candidate’s responses were equally as wide-ranging. 

Perkins, who was first to respond, said, “When it comes to education, this is my take – we are abandoning our public school system.”

“We have to make sure that kids get a quality education,” Perkins continued. “Trying to put all of this money into charter schools, and private schools, and the Hope Scholarship – I don’t think it’s a solution. I think we need to fix the public school system that’s broken.”

Campbell was next to answer, saying, “In terms of the Hope Scholarship, I’ll be honest with you – I voted no on that in the past.”

“The reason I voted no is because our public schools are our community,” Campbell added. “Private schools do not have to accept every student – they can pick and choose who they want. […] I’m not opposed to the Hope Scholarship completely, but I think […] our public school system needs to thrive because it will help our community thrive.”

Ewing was last to provide his response.

“I fully support the Hope Scholarship,” Ewing said. “I really can’t support it more than I do. […] I highly encourage anybody who has a kid to look into it, because it really is a great program.”

Watch the full Greenbrier County GOP Executive Committee’s House of Delegates District 46 primary debate on our Facebook page, or by clicking the link below:

Early voting in West Virginia is now underway, and will continue through May 11. Primary Election Day is Tuesday, May 14. Voters must be registered either as independent, or a member of a particular political party to vote in that party’s primary election. 


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