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Maloney hits campaign trail in Jefferson County

By Staff | Jul 25, 2011

GOP gubernatorial candidate Bill Maloney speaks during a noon luncheon in Shepherdstown Saturday. (Ogden Newspapers photo by Ron Agnir)

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Maloney got a rousing response when he spoke at Saturday’s West Virginia Republican Party executive committee meeting, pointing out the lack of leadership now being shown by acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin – remarks that got him several rounds of applause from audience members gathered for lunch at The Bavarian Inn.

At the same time, Maloney stressed that his candidacy is based on decades of professional and business experience – not being a seasoned politician.

A self-proclaimed conservative, Maloney defeated seven challengers – including former Secretary of State Betty Ireland – to win the Republican nomination in May’s special primary election.

Maloney said his business, North American Drillers, began in 1984 as a two-man startup before becoming the world leader in large-diameter shaft drilling for mining and other industries. He also is the founder of the Mine Rescue Drilling Fund, which was established after he helped with the successful rescue of 33 trapped miners in Chile last year.

It’s important to bring that kind of business sense and leadership to the governor’s office, he said.

“Yet we’ve got people down there who don’t know how to meet a payroll inside that golden dome. … We’re going to win this race because folks understand that wisdom doesn’t reside in that golden dome,” Maloney said.

He referred to the acting governor as “Mr. temporary Tomblin” and criticized what he termed indecisiveness in his handling of short-term regulations for the state’s emerging Marcellus Shale gas industry.

“We need some leadership on Marcellus, and we’ve got a temporary governor down there issuing temporary rules. Yet anyone who is involved in the oil and gas industry, not unlike other business, wants certainty. They don’t want 15 months’ worth and most of those rules were things that responsible operators were doing already,” Maloney said.

Tomblin, the state senate president, became acting governor when then-Gov. Joe Manchin moved to the U.S. Senate.

Area GOP officials and political activists at the event agreed Maloney is a strong contender in the Oct. 4 special election.

State Republican chairman and lunch emcee Mike Stuart said it was important to discuss Marcellus Shale regulations, redistricting and watershed issues while in the Eastern Panhandle for this two-day meeting.

Stuart also outlined the reasons he supports Maloney, saying, “I met him for the first time in January and was so inspired by his vision of West Virginia and what it could be. … Many of the challenges that the state faces today are challenges that he has already faced and solved. If you want to create jobs, why not hire someone who is a job creator.”

His professional experience as a driller and dealing with mineral extraction industries also will be a good foundation for helping regulate Marcellus Shale, Stuart said.

Even before Maloney spoke, Jefferson County Republican Executive Committee Chairman Anne Dungan took advantage of an opportunity to present him with a $500 check from her organization.

“We decided we would like to give it to him when he was here in Jefferson County so it makes this that much more special. … He is a good candidate with lots of business experience and is familiar with the coal mines that are so important to the state,” Dungan said.

Berkeley County Republican Executive Committee Chairman Mick Staton said he believes Maloney’s “real-world experiences” will be an asset as governor.

“With the election so close and one that we are all really interested in, this really is a special time to have him here. … He’s a businessman, not a politician, and I think it is time for someone like him as governor. Folks are really focused on the economy and they tend to trust a person who has built a business – someone who knows that you have to work and be efficient,” Staton said.

Delegate Daryl Cowles, R-51st District, who has served in the Legislature for five years, praised Maloney’s leadership skills.

“He’s running on his honest leadership and we desperately need that in Charleston, so I’m excited about his campaign. He’ll be a fresh face down at the (state) Capitol. … Earl Ray Tomblin does come off as a kind of shy guy because you don’t always see or hear from him a lot, which is where I think Bill Maloney will be really different since you’ll actually see him lead. So that will be in stark contrast to Earl Ray’s style,” Cowles said.

It was important for Maloney to discuss his support for the creation of single-delegate districts as part of the state’s upcoming redistricting process, said Delegate Eric Householder, R-56th District.

“Bill Maloney definitely supports single-delegate districts, and we’re trying to get leadership to do the same. There’s been talk it is a Republican issue, but that’s not the case. It’s basically an issue of accountability, one that will benefit the citizens. I believe in one person, one vote, and to have single-delegate districts – 100 of them in the House of Delegates – will build on that,” Householder said.

Delegate John Overington, R-55th District, was more certain than ever about Maloney’s chances of becoming governor after hearing his speech Saturday.

“One of his strengths is that he doesn’t sound like a politician because he’s not a career politician. He’s coming from a business background with plans to run the state in a more businesslike manner, so that we will get the efficiencies that are needed,” Overington said.

“Government has gotten so bureaucratic in so many ways that we need someone like Bill Maloney to cut through all the red tape and make us more business-friendly so we can create more jobs, get unemployment down and have more revenue,” he said.

23rd Judicial Circuit Judge John Yoder said he also was glad to have the state GOP executive committee in the Eastern Panhandle.

As part of the event, Yoder said he’d hosted about 50 people at a reception in his home Friday night,

Yoder, who narrowly lost his 2010 state Supreme Court bid, is already working on another run next year, he said.