WHEELING - U.S. Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., and fellow Republicans believe President Barack Obama is working to destroy West Virginia's coal industry, so they are taking a stand.
"This administration is hell-bent on stopping us from burning fossil fuels," McKinley said of the Obama administration, as the congressman spoke Saturday at Wheeling's Heritage Port during the Republican "Freedom Rally."
"A 'war on coal' is not just a war on a coal company - it is a war on an entire economy," McKinley added.
Photo by Casey Junkins
U.S. Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., speaks Saturday at Wheeling’s Heritage Port for the Republican “Freedom Rally.”
About 100 West Virginia Republican candidates and supporters endured rainy and cool conditions at the port Saturday afternoon, including gubernatorial candidate Bill Maloney. All candidates spoke of the need to send the Mountain State - and the entire nation - on a different course, beginning with the Nov. 6 general election.
"West Virginians are hard-working, smart people," said Maloney, who is looking to unseat sitting Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.
Maloney also spoke of the need to fix problems with West Virginia's court system and system of taxation as ways to help move the state forward.
Speaking at a podium featuring a sign that promoted Republican Mitt Romney for president, those in attendance emphasized their belief that voters need to support Romney over Obama. West Virginia's five electoral votes are favored to end up in the Romney column, according to most polls.
John Raese, the Republican challenger to U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said Manchin tries to get by with telling those in West Virginia what they want to hear, but tells his fellow Democrats in Washington, D.C. something very different.
"He might talk a great talk when he is in West Virginia. He might say he is for coal," Raese said of Manchin.
"He has to be on the team - and he is on the wrong team," Raese added of Manchin.
Also speaking was Republican West Virginia Attorney General candidate Patrick Morrisey, who is looking to unseat longtime Democratic Attorney General Darrell McGraw.
"Darrell McGraw is the epitome of our problem in Charleston," said Morrisey. "I am going to do my best to bring home a victory against Darrell McGraw."
As McKinley continued to speak on the "war on coal," he said that Obama wants to talk about "fairness," but does not seem to care how much his policies hurt West Virginia.
"Is it fair to shut down a coal mine? No," McKinley emphasized.
Other Republicans in attendance Saturday included Kent Leonhardt, candidate for West Virginia Commissioner of Agriculture; Desiree Lyonette, candidate for Ohio County magistrate; Sharon Zelkowski, candidate for Ohio County assessor; Pat McGeehan, candidate for state Senate; and Delegate Erikka Storch, R-Ohio, who is seeking re-election.
Though West Virginia is favored to go to Romney in the presidential race, neighboring Ohio is much more closely contested. Both the Obama and Romney campaigns are spending large amounts of time and money trying to win Ohio's 18 electoral votes, as no president has taken office without winning the Buckeye State since John F. Kennedy in 1960.