West Virginia Tough Boys, Revised, Softcover

West Virginia Tough Boys
By: F. Keith Davis
Softcover, 272 pages
ISBN: 978-0-9793236-5-2


A state bestseller is now available in a handsome softcover format, and includes additional research, interviews and photographs. Entirely revised and re-edited, West Virginia Tough Boys remains a historically significant literary work about mountain politics and the 1960 presidential primary campaign. Rich and straightforward stories of political tomfoolery, vote-buying and eventual victory for Senator John Kennedy Kennedy in the Mountain State's primary are documented here. The West Virginia is often sited as the most important and vital win in Kennedy's bid for the White House. The book features a great deal of research, along with interviews and discussions with a variety of politicians and campaign workers from yesteryear.

Along the way, politicos from the era—Claude Ellis (head of the John F. Kennedy for President campaign, in Logan County, WV); Raymond Chafin (leader of the Hubert H. Humphrey for President campaign); Dan Dahill (former WV delegate, state senator and noted attorney), and others like them—share interesting and sometimes humorous stories about growing up in rough and poverty stricken southern West Virginia. Collectively, these fellows influenced the course of local and state politics for more than half a century. They have rubbed shoulders with many of the icons of our era.

Meanwhile, in Tough Boys, there are other individuals like Robert C. Byrd, Alex DeFobio, Tom Godby, Bus Perry, Elvie Curry, Raamie Barker and Mel Cottone who take supportive roles in this fascinating journey. It was a time when John, Bobby, Ted and even Rosemary Kennedy became acquainted with the "common folks" throughout the state and walked the streets of many small towns in the region.

Perhaps, by learning more about the West Virginia's Tough Boys, you’ll better understand all politicians of the era ... and today's leaders, as well.

"While our political culture in Southwestern West Virginia has steadfastly and significantly moved away from this stereotype, this book is about those people who were able to organize and sustain some of the strongest local and regional political organizations anywhere in the country. They were able to do it without formal political training, yet understood the nature of the average voter and citizen and knew what it took to motivate them to go to the polls and vote," WV Senate President and Lt. Governor Earl Ray Tomblin states in the foreword.

"Raymond Chafin, head of the Democratic Executive Committee and a Democrat Machine boss in Logan County for decades, like other party bosses, suddenly and “mysteriously” switched allegiance from Humphrey to Kennedy in that famous West Virginia primary. When Bobby and Teddy Kennedy made their rounds and began to generously distribute their father’s money, it opened all kinds of doors, which previously had been closed to their brother’s candidacy," wrote Brad Crouser, author of Arch: The Life of Governor Arch A. Moore, Jr.

"Raymond Chafin and Big Claude Ellis and Tom Godby are what you might call typical of the more active political persons in many counties of West Virginia. Well, I don’t know whether they’re typical, either, but there are a great number of people in West Virginia, and I suppose in other states, which are in the same category as these people. They’re persons of limited economic means, they’re not of any particular profession, but they live on politics, for politics," stated Robert “Bob” McDonough, John F. Kennedy Library and Museum, Oral History Interviews."