West Virginia’s 3rd congressional district went 73/23 for Trump over Clinton last year, but Democrat Nick Rahall held that seat up through 2014. With the seat open again (Evan Jenkins is running for Senate), I wrote about how Democrats are trying to engage voters and address the real challenges of poverty & economic disruption there (including at least two who are doing so by running for the Republican nomination).
My story for the New Republic looks at several present and past Democrats in the district (including some current Republicans) who are now maneuvering for the open seat. The story focuses largely on Richard Ojeda, a veteran and state senator who supported Trump in 2016 but is building a campaign that combines his brawling anti-establishment style with a generally progressive platform.
Step over step. Step over step.
My dad was a lifetime runner, & I aim to follow in his steps. That’s part of why Mirna Valerio’s story resonates deeply with me. She’s using running as an avenue to lifelong fitness, and inspiring a ton of people along the way. She’s awesome.
Her memoir, “A Beautiful Work in Progress,” was released in October. I caught up with her for Blue Ridge Outdoors.
After years of building their regional economy around extractive industries, many Appalachian communities now are tapping into their bountiful outdoor assets to draw tourists—-and perhaps manufacturers and other job creators.
Places like Roanoke, Virginia, have created a new model for economic development, pairing traditional lures like workforce and infrastructure with an emphasis on livability and access to outdoor recreation.
Substantial challenges remain, however—-including President Donald Trump’s proposed budget, which would gut a number of programs crucial to economic diversification efforts.
Read the story at 100 Days in Appalachia.
Donald Trump dominated Appalachia on Election Day, 2016, and he wasted no time in loosening regulations on the region’s coal industry. In the big picture, however, the regulatory shifts mean an extension of the status quo.
His proposed budget, however, which would gut the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Economic Development Administration, the USDA’s infrastructure budget and other programs crucial to economic development efforts, may well wipe out any job gains from the coal industry.
For Vice, I tried to sort out the impact of federal actions on Appalachia under Trump. Read it here.
Donald Trump’s election as president shocked and electrified America. But what does his election signify for America’s wildlands?
Environmentalists predict disasterous consequences for public lands and beyond. But outdoor sports groups are surprisingly optimistic.
Find out why in my story at Blue Ridge Outdoors.
Black metal musicians around Appalachia have incorporated traditional instruments and natural themes in raw but majestic music that somehow captures the epic nature of the mountains.
For Blue Ridge Outdoors, I profiled Panopticon, Twilight Fauna, Nechochwen and Vials of Wrath. Read more at the magazine.
In November, Gatlinburg, Tennessee, was scorched by a human-started wildfire that escaped Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP) and killed at least 14 people and destroying more than 700 houses and businesses.
The fire was started by people, but it was aided by the steep slopes, overgrown brush and tightly packed buildings in the tourist town.
Read more at Blue Ridge Outdoors.
Statistically, crime in public wildlands is relatively rare. Most crime there tends to be vandalism or illegal dumping. As is the case with crime generally, violent crime on public lands tends to be domestic, occurring between people who know each other.
But occasionally something bad happens. Unsolved mysteries on public wildlands grip our imaginations, in part because they took place at the places we play.
For Blue Ridge Outdoors, I looked at unsolved homicides and a mysterious disappearance. Read the story here.
When the billionaire entered the primary, longtime politicos scoffed. He had no political experience, had switched parties repeatedly over the previous decades, and had a spotty track record in business. Yet he vanquished his establishment candidates in the primary and headed into the general election running an unorthodox campaign based around his personality.
It’s not Donald Trump, of course, but Jim Justice, West Virginia’s only billionaire and owner of the Greenbrier Resort and the largest privately held coal company east of the Mississippi River. Justice stands as a figure simultaneously beloved—he coaches high-school basketball and bailed out the historic Greenbrier when it faced potential closure—and reviled, as his coal company has developed a reputation for not paying debts, taxes or environmental obligations.
Read more about Justice, his Republican opponent Bill Cole, and what may be the weirdest undercard election in America at Politico Magazine.