Chapman Revercomb

Charleston Daily Mail
October 10, 1979

A True Independent

Best Campaigner

By Bob Mellace

Chapman Revercomb impressed some who did not know him as a cold and imperious person, every inch the dignified United States senator, and unapproachable. He was anything but that. And, obviously, you don't get elected twice statewide in West Virginia on the Republican ticket without a great deal of charm.

The late senator was dignified, and perhaps it was this dignity that appealed to the voters when he defeated two Democratic governors who had far more resources than he. But he also had a common touch that made him one of the best head-to-head campaigners in the history of this state's politics.

Mr. Revercomb worked harder at meeting West Virginians and talking to them than any of his contemporaries, or those who have followed him on the political scene since bis departure a few years ago. He did it from the pre-dawn hours to long after dark, and at a killing pace. As long as there was a voter in sight who wanted to talk, Chapman Revercomb was never too tired to listen.

One of my favorite memories of the senator in action is a scene in Preston County in the fall, with the woods in a riot of colors and full of squirrel hunters. He saw some of them as we drove along Route 50, stopped the car and took off up the hill after them, leaving behind a lot of people who were trying to keep him on schedule. But he caught up with the hunters, let them know who he was, and asked for their vote.

Just traveling with him was a delightful experience, never boring. Like all good politicians, he could tell a thousand stories about politics. But his very best were about his days as a young lawyer and the court-assigned cases that all young lawyers must endure. Most of Revercomb's were West Virginia moonshiners caught by federal revenue agents and hauled into federal court. None had any money but all of them had the most beautiful alibis anyone ever listened to, and young Revercomb did the best he could for them.

His critics who liked to smear him as the stuffed-shirt type, especially the opposition press, might have been a little less severe if they had been able to see the senator eat hot dogs, which he dearly loved. And he always swore there were none better than the ones you used to get at Blue Creek, at the end of a long day of campaigning. He could put them away.

Above all of his other admirable qualities as a person and politician, Chapman Revercomb was truly independent. He wore no man's collar, and certainly no faction's collar. As great as his record was, it might have been better had he sacrificed some of that independence and played ball with the kingmakers. That was not his character, nor his style. He couldn't be led and he couldn't pretend.

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