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My View of West Virginia

photo 2 My View of West Virginia
Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

The West Virginia House and Senate campaigns officially start after the primary elections on Tuesday. I was sent to cover some of the candidates in April and caught some great moments.

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Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, sits with students at Robert Bland Middle School. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

When Rep. Capito entered the auditorium for an internet safety event she sat down with the speakers, isolated from the students. I thought my shot would be of her giving a talk to the students in which case I would do a reverse angle and get the students in the background. That shot happened and was fine. But at some point she saw an open seat and decided to sit with the kids which made for some fun shots bantering with them. The sunglasses were a prize she received for winning a contest for creating a strong password. As she walked she out she whipped them into the crowd á la a pro athlete.

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West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant greets Rosemary Ervin, 91, during a dinner at the Mineral Senior Center in Keyser. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Politicians often meet with senior citizens since they will tend turn out more for voting. Seniors usually have a lot of character and I thought this was a sweet gesture by the 91-year-old Rosemary, at this weekly dinner.

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Charlotte Lane, right, talks with Lois Alt, on Alt’s poultry farm in Old Fields, WV. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

I was only on the ground the for five minutes with Charlotte Lane. The logistics of covering numerous candidates in a big state dictated that. Luckily we have the dog sleeping on the truck to give it that country feel. Without “Sugar” it would be tough to pull a picture out of the scene.

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State Senator Evan Jenkins buys ramps from Mia Carroll, 8, in Summersville, WV. Also appearing are her brother, Dario, 8, their mother Lisa, center, and Judy Derberry. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Mr. Jenkins and his staff were following me since I had arrived into the town early and scoped out where they were scheduled to go next. As we passed this roadside market I thought, “Man, that would be a good picture of him talking with some locals.” I had no idea what ramps were, (they are like wild onions) I just knew they were selling something. My phone rings and his staffer tells me they are turning around to hit the market.

If I wasn’t there would they have turned around? Who knows. The presence of camera is almost always going to affect a situation, but I’m going to follow their lead. I was pleased to get a picture of these ramps, which are native to Appalachia and West Virginia. It was a curious little scene since the ramps were being sold out of the back of a Cadillac Escalade.

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Denver McKeenley and Anna Holstein dance during a bluegrass jamboree in Belle, W.Va. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

This was at a bluegrass a jamboree where House candidate Nick Casey visited. The gym had horrific fluorescent lighting and was pretty dark. I tend to gravitate to interesting characters, even if they are not the reason I am there. Since it was a straight photo trip, I’m going to go with the best picture. I couldn’t pass up these two.

photo 1 My View of West Virginia
Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

I enjoy covering politicians from rural areas because you see parts of the U.S. you would never get to see driving on an interstate. Parts of West Virginia look like a smaller version of the Rockies and I was fascinated by the rugged small towns and farmlands up in the mountains. I stopped numerous times to try to take Instagram shots with my phone but I was usually trying to get somewhere. I didn’t have as much time with that project as I would have liked.

photo 3 My View of West Virginia
Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

I saw many decaying buildings while driving around and this is one I went inside. The walls were decorated with pages from magazines and littered with tobacco and alcohol products. As I searched for a potential picture I got an eerie feeling as if the floor was about to give or I was being watched. Either way, I quickly got out to my car and left.