West Virginia Republican Candidates Team Up During Wheeling Stop

Photo by Joselyn King Rep. David B. McKinley, R-W.Va., left, introduces gubernatorial candidate Bill Cole during a GOP rally Tuesday night at the Italian American Club in Wheeling.

WHEELING — West Virginia gubernatorial candidate Bill Cole says he “prays for a Donald Trump White House.”

Cole and other Republican candidates seeking public office in West Virginia the Nov. 8 election teamed up Tuesday night in at the Italian-American Club in Wheeling, where they spoke of the potential for West Virginia if all were elected and could partner to implement policy to save coal and natural gas jobs.

Cole said there are many challenges facing West Virginia in the months to come, including a $350 million deficit projected for next year.

“I pray for a Donald Trump White House because we can’t stand to have somebody who will be in the way of our coal and natural gas opportunities,” Cole said.

“We will diversify this state, but I’ll be darned if I’m willing to overlook the God-given resources that are underground in West Virginia. We have a team just like any good business that is run. We put a good team together, and we can move heaven and earth. And we will move at the speed of business. We will not move at the speed of government.”

Rep. David B. McKinley, R-W.Va., led the slate of state candidates and served as moderator for the rally.

In addition to McKinley and Cole, candidates speaking included Attorney General Patrick Morrisey; Mac Warner, candidate for secretary of state; J.B. McCuskey, candidate for auditor; state Sen. Kent Leonhardt, R-Monongalia, candidate for commissioner of agriculture; and Ann Urling, candidate for treasurer.

McKinley spoke of how regulations placed on West Virginia industry have affected the workforce in the state.

Eight years ago, West Virginia ranked seventh among the 50 states in the number of residents employed. Today, West Virginia comes in 42nd in terms of employed population, according to McKinley.

“The federal government stepped up — and they encouraged the state government to step up — to regulate, to go around Congress, to go around the state Legislature, and do by regulation what they couldn’t do by legislation,” McKinley said.

“We went from seventh-best to 42nd-best — all because of regulation. That’s why it’s so important to have this team in place that are not going to be promulgating (regulations) or crippling our job market.”

Morrisey, as attorney general, has been challenging many of the regulations imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency before the U.S. Supreme Court.

He said it would be nice to have partners in West Virginia state government to work with and assist him in the battle.

“The first thing we have to do is elect a president who withdraws these EPA regulations,” Morrisey said. “That’s why I am unequivocably opposed to Hillary Clinton’s job-killing agenda.”

Morrisey said the second thing voters need to do is re-elect him, as he has led a 27-state coalition in fighting the EPA regulations.

“Just imagine … if I didn’t prevail, the coalition would fall apart,” he said. “We can’t put at risk court litigation against Obama or whoever is in the White House. We have to win that case.”

Morrisey said the GOP team assembled would be able to work together to develop policies to make the business environment more conducive to mining coal.

Tax codes and regulations are keeping the state from being more competitive with its neighbors, he said.

McCuskey discussed the role of the auditor’s office in managing the state’s money.

“Taxpayers deserve to know how their money is being spent,” he said.

Warner said while there may not be questions about election results in West Virginia’s Northern Panhandle, that is not the case in many southern counties in the state.

He promised not “to get distracted” in the job and allow such improprieties to occur.

Urling said a fresh side of eyes is needed in the state treasurer’s office, where John Perdue has served for more than 20 years. Urling is the senior vice president of Summit Community Bank, and has more than 30 years of banking experience.

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