WHEELING - Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is expected to visit the Friendly City for a private event on May 3 at Wheeling Park's White Palace.
Robert Murray is sponsoring and hosting the event, his son Robert Edward Murray confirmed. In September, Robert Murray hosted a similar gathering at the same venue for former Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry. About 450 attended that $2,500 per plate event to help raise funds for Perry, who soon lost steam as a candidate before dropping out of the race.
Murray is now placing his trust in Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who appears almost certain to gain the Republican nomination to challenge Democratic President Barack Obama in the November general election.
Robert Murray is the founder and chief executive officer of Murray Energy Corp. He owns the Century Mine and Powhatan No. 6 Mine in southern Belmont County, as well as the Red Bird West mine near Brilliant.
Robert Edward Murray serves as vice president of business development and external affairs for the corporation. He stressed that his father, not the corporation, is sponsoring Romney's visit.
A longtime outspoken proponent of coal usage, Robert Murray seems determined to defeat Obama because he believes the sitting president wants to eliminate coal from the American economy. In an essay he terms "The Obama War on Coal," Murray outlines how federal officials are working to stop his industry.
"All regulations imposed on the production of fossil fuels or the utilization of them by the Obama administration must be immediately stopped and not enforced, until they are evaluated for any benefits and job and economic losses to America," Murray wrote.
Murray said Obama wants to see states like California, New York, Massachusetts and other heavily Democratic states prosper at the expense of more politically balanced states like Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. He highlighted statistics from the U.S. Energy Information Administration that show the heavily Democratic coastal states pay much more per kilowatt hour for electricity than states in the middle of the country.
Staff Writer Joselyn King contributed to this report.