WHEELING - Democrat congressional candidate Sue Thorn acknowledges her campaign funds don't compare to those raised by her Republican opponent, Rep. David B. McKinley, but she believes organization and grassroots campaigning can help to stem her financial disadvantage.
Their most recent campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Elections Commission show McKinley with total receipts of $1,552,209 this election cycle and Thorn with $54,551.
"We have to have money," she said. "But I'm not willing yet to give up on democracy. Our country will be in a sad state when money becomes the only decision-maker."
Thorn previously served as a local organizer for Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign and is a veteran of many Democrat efforts. She stepped forward this year to seek West Virginia's 1st District congressional seat after other potential candidates were daunted by the financial challenge, she said.
"And there does seem to be a real grassroots swelling of enthusiasm for this," Thorn continued. "People are saying they would like to see a regular person" representing them in Congress.
"I've been without health insurance before," she said. "I know what that's like. I have a daughter with a pre-existing condition, who was fortunately able to get back on insurance when the Affordable Care Act passed."
Thorn said many people she met during her organizing efforts four years ago told "heartbreaking stories" about their current health care and economic situations.
Thorn learned of private contractors overseas "making four to 10 times" what soldiers are being paid to do similar work in Afghanistan. There are military families on food stamps, and a high suicide rate among soldiers returning from the Middle East, she said.
"People are being left behind, and we're opening the doors for profiteering," she said. "We're fighting wars so somebody can make money, and that's wrong."
Thorn also questioned why Medicare officials cannot negotiate prescription drug prices for participants in their programs, just as the Veterans Administration can for its members.