Efforts to regain control of the West Virginia legislature for the first time in more than eighty years have led to a number of competitive primaries throughout the state. One such race is West Virginia’s 17th state Senate district in Kanawha County, a district that went 57 percent for Mitt Romney in 2012. 

In a recent editorial board meeting with Charleston’s Daily Mail, all three candidates sat down for a meeting to discuss taxes, regulations, transportation, and a number of other issues. Of note, only one of the candidates refuses to take tax hikes off the table by signing the Taxpayer Protection Pledge to West Virginia voters: Republican Dr. Tom Takubo. His Republican opponent Lance Wheeler brought that up in the editorial board meeting. 

Lance Wheeler: “One of my top priorities is jobs. If we’re going to fix the jobs crisis here, we have to do it by lowering taxes and limiting the amount of regulations. I actually signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, which pledges as a state Senator I will never vote to increase taxes on West Virginians or their businesses.” (4:50) 

Lance Wheeler: “I’ve signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, which I’m not sure my opponent in the primary Tom Takubo has signed yet…I will make the pledge that I will not raise taxes… We do not have a revenue problem here in West Virginia, we have a spending problem.”

Dr. Takubo: “I tell my patients, wait until you make any decisions…To handcuff myself is the wrong thing to do and if you’re experienced enough, you know that. You gotta keep options on the table.” (17:00)

Despite going on to acknowledge that there is unnecessary waste and bureaucracy in Charleston, Dr. Takubo refuses to put his opposition to higher taxes in writing by signing the Pledge because he wants to keep “options on the table.” After discussing tax incentives and the medical community for a few minutes, Lance Wheeler pushed back. 

Lance Wheeler: “What you just heard there is the classic politician dancing around the question. He just said that he will not sign the Pledge to not increase taxes on West Virginians but you should take his word for it. That’s not the type of leadership West Virginia needs. West Virginia needs someone who will sign on paper with witnesses like Delegate Skaff has done that they will not increase taxes…I will stand by that Pledge and I urge Tom Takubo [to] sign that Pledge as well because it is necessary to tell the people of West Virginia that you will not be increasing taxes anymore.” (19:56) 

Delegate Doug Skaff, the other candidate in the race is a Democrat and the Assistant Majority Whip in the House of Delegates. That makes the only candidate to not sign the Pledge Republican Dr. Tom Takubo. 

ATR commends Lance Wheeler and Delegate Doug Skaff for putting in writing their personal written commitment to oppose higher taxes by signing the Taxpayer Protection Pledge. We urge Dr. Tom Takubo to take tax hikes off the table by signing the Pledge as well because as Wheeler rightly points out, West Virginia doesn’t have a revenue problem, it has a spending problem.