West Virginia State Senator Robert Karns (R - Upshur) looked to be your basic garden variety of anti-union Republican. As the Charleston Gazette-Mail described him:
Sen. Robert Karnes, R-Upshur, has sparred with unions and voted for bills they oppose, such as the right-to-work bill or prevailing wage repeal in 2016.
Maybe Karnes was a bit more than garden variety:
While debating right-to-work, he called union members in the galleries “free riders” during a floor speech, to a chorus of jeers.
His responses during the WV teacher strike were predictable:
After the strike, he told the Gazette-Mail that he didn’t think the teachers’ vow to remember next election would have much impact:
“I can’t say that it will have zero effect, but I don’t think it’ll have any significant effect because more often than not, they probably weren’t voting on the Republican side of the aisle anyways,” Karnes said.
Karnes was challenged in the primary by a moderate Republican who won the backing of organized labor. According to The Intercept:
Hamilton is a moderate Republican who opposes right-to-work and was sympathetic to the teacher strikes, breaking with those in his party who wanted to offer only a smaller raise.
Unions responded by heavily investing in his campaign; he raised over$10,000 of his $53,850 haul from organized labor.
Despite an organized opposition, Karnes wasn’t worried. He tweeted on election day:
Karma's a bitch, isn't it? Apparently, Robert Karnes didn’t know or dismissed the fact that if you’re registered (or changed your voter registration) to unaffiliated, you can vote in either party’s primary. Karnes didn’t just lose, he lost big: 5,787 to 3,749.
I wonder if our local, anti-teacher union senator, Ryan Ferns, followed this election?