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Over A Dozen On Ballot For Governor Nomination

By Staff | Apr 27, 2011

West Virginians go to the polls on May 14 to nominate candidates for governor in a special primary election with more than a dozen contenders competing for their votes. The special general election will follow in October and the winning candidate will be serving as

this state’s chief executive for 14 months before the next regular election in 2012 when a governor will be elected for the traditional four-year term.

These two special elections were the result of a decision by the State Supreme Court of Appeals back in January that the Legislature must provide for these elections so that the acting governor who took over when former Gov. Joe Manchin resigned last November 15 after winning a special election for a U. S. Senate seat would not serve more than one year. The court decision concluded the acting governor could serve no longer than one year so the governor elected this fall must take office no later than Nov. 15, 2011.

The six Democrat candidates are (in alphabetical order): Jeff Kessler, currently Acting President of the State Senate; Arne Moltis, a South Charleston landlord; John Perdue, the current State Treasurer; Natalie Tennant, the current Secretary of State; Richard Thompson, the current Speaker of the House of Delegates; and Acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin from Chapmanville.

The eight Republican candidates are: State Sen. Clark Barnes of Buckhannon; Delegate Mitch B. Carmichael of Ripley; Ralph William Clark of Monongalia County; Cliff Ellis of Westover; Larry V. Faircloth of Inwood; Betty Ireland of Charleston; Bill Maloney of Morgantown; and Mark A. Sorsaia of Hurricane.

The Mountain Party plans to nominate its candidate at a party convention next month. The two possible candidates are Jesse Johnson from Kanawha County and Bob Henry Baber from Glenville.

Gov. Tomblin has the largest amount of money to spend on the primary campaign, according to the financial reports filed earlier this month by the various candidates’ fund-raising committees. His total amount was $1,031,153.76 which is more than a quarter million dollars above the second-best amount of $698,674 reported by Thompson. Perdue is third on the Democrat side with $592,852 followed by Tennant with $215,068 and Kessler with $93,580.

On the Republican side, Maloney reported the largest amount of campaign funds available for the primary with $389,170 but $250,000 of that came from personal loans made by the candidate. Ireland is next with $208,587 and $128,000-plus of that is in the form of personal loans. Sen. Barnes reported a total of $103,500 in campaign funds but $100,000 of that is his personal loan. Carmichael reported less than $5,000 in contributions.

Clark loaned his campaign $4,000 and reported no contributions so far. He’s spent most of that already on the filing fee of $1,500 and $870 for campaign advice from a Charleston law firm. Faircloth reported campaign funds of about $27,500 and $25,000 of that is a personal loan. Sorsaia has a total campaign fund of about $40,000 and $15,500 of that is his personal loan. Carmichael reported less than $5,000 in contributions and Ellis reported total campaign expenditures so far of less than $1,500–all from his own pocket.

Voters who are registered can vote early beginning on April 29 until May 11 including April 30 and May 7, from 9 a. m. until 5 p. m. at their county courthouse. The general election will be on Oct. 4 and once the winner is certified, that new governor will serve until the inauguration in January, 2013 of the winner of the race at the November 2012 general election who will then serve the usual

four-year term.

During interviews on some of the current critical issues in West Virginia, both Kessler and Perdue have said they would support an increase in the tobacco tax and Kessler said he would use the money for health and anti-drug initiatives.

On the issue of diversification of the state’s economy, Tennant proposes creation of a long-term economic plan that includes manufacturing, energy, research and development. Thompson wants the state to offer incentives to small and medium-size businesses that would be based on the jobs created.

Betty Ireland was the 28th Secretary of State from 2005 to 2009, the first woman to elected to the executive branch of state government in West Virginia. She has been endorsed by the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce in next month’s GOP primary and she announced her 11-point policy plan at a press conference last Thursday in Charleston.

On his webpage: www.maloneyforwv.com, the 52-year-old Maloney says he is a candidate for governor because “West Virginia needs new leadership–leadership that understands how to create jobs, keep jobs and build better opportunities for our citizens.” He is admittedly “pro-life” and promises to “fight to protect Second Amendment rights.”

Ireland and Maloney are considered the front-runners in the GOP primary race because of their superior campaign funding streams. Ireland is the only one with previous statewide campaign experience, having won a four-year term as Secretary of State in 2004.

Tomblin is seen by many as the front-runner in the Democratic primary because of his advantage in his role as the current acting governor while many observers believe Thompson and Perdue, his closest competitors, are likely to divide the votes from pro-labor groups.