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Senator Who??????

July 28, 2010 - Joselyn King

 O.K. How many admit to Googling the name "Carte Goodwin" just to find out who this guy is that's taking a temp job as U.S. senator from West Virginia? You found out he is a 36-year-old attorney from Charleston who used to be Gov. Joe Manchin's legal counsel.

But how well does anyone know the 14 candidates filing to take the office for the full-term? At least four of the names are familiar among those on the "special" primary ballot on Nov. 2.

* The world now knows the Democrat Manchin, and maybe their idea of West Virginians was formed or changed by the way he presented himself and the state during mine disasters happening since he took office in January 2005. Charismatic and personable, Manchin is thought to be the front-runner in the race.

But you can't help but wonder if pundits are putting the cart before the horse in this one. And Manchin, himself, might be taking his standing for granted.

National media were standing by with microphones handy as Manchin kept everyone waiting following the death of U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va.

"Will Manchin run or won't he?" was the most-often posed question.

When the time came for his announcement, his campaign provided a telephone feed so those who couldn't be there could listen in.

And what did they hear -- nothing, except some crowd noise. It seemed that somebody forgot to hook the microphone in to the feed.

And it's not like they would have heard much, anyway. Manchin kept his remarks short, and the pinnacle of his announcement was his signing of the $1,740 check that was his entry fee in the race.

Seemed like a missed opportunity for Manchin to step up and take center stage as the nation watched.

* And 95-year-old Democrat Ken Hechler was quite a big name in his day. An historian, writer and professor, Hechler started off as an aid to President Harry Truman.

He would go on to serve 18 years in the U.S. House through the 1960s and into the 1970s. During that time he was the only member of Congress to march with Martin Luther King in the 1965 Civil Rights March in Selma, Ala.

He would also step up following the coal mine explosion at Farmington, W.Va. and call for a greater focus on mine safety. He opposed then-United Mine Workers President Tony Boyle, and recruited Jock Yablonski to run against him. Yablonski and his family would later be murdered, Boyle would go to jail, and Hechler would survive to continue in politics.

He would even go on to serve six years as West Virginia Secretary of State from 1985 to 2001.

Last year, he and actress Daryl Hannah were among those arrested during a mountain top removal mining protest. Bringing attention to the issue is the only reason Hechler is in the race this year.

Did I mention he'll be 96 in September?

* Republican John Raese of Morgantown has run unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate before -- in 1984 and 2006. He also ran for governor in 1988.

Raese runs his family's limestone business, and the family also owns radio stations and the newspaper in Morgantown.

It's likely he'll run a pro-business, less government campaign. 

* Republican Mac Warner did make a good run for West Virginia's 1st District congressional seat this year, finishing second to David McKinley in the six-person race.

He's got an extensive biography heavy on military and legal matters, and he knows the Middle East. His son Steve is presently serving in Afghanistan.

But Warner angered many within his own party when he began to sling arrows at McKinley during this year's primary election. He also had an emotional melt down during a live televised candidate forum in Wheeling.

In addition, Warner  and his brothers are presently  facing bankruptcy proceedings and other legal issues  pertaining to rental property they own and market to students in Morgantown.

And as for the other candidates?

Democrat Sheirl (correct spelling) Fletcher made a primary run against U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller in 2008. She has served in the West Virginia House of Delegates, but as a Republican.

And do you recognize any of these names? They'll all be on the Republican ballot: Thomas Ressler of Falling Waters; Harry Bruner of Charleston; Frank Kubic of Charles Town; Daniel Scott Rebich of Buckhanon; Kenneth Culp of Summersville; Albert Howard of San Pedro, Calif. (California? Really?); Lynette Kennedy McQuain of Rivesville; or Scott H. Williams of Buckhannon.

Yes, a person from California can be elected to represent West Virginia in the U.S. Senate -- if they reside in the state at the time they are elected.

And Mountain Party members take note -- your guy, Jesse Johnson, is running unopposed and is the only one who will assuredly be on that Nov. 2 "special" election.

Remember when the biggest political news this year was McKinley v. Democrat Mike Oliverio?




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