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Nick Casey launches 2014 US House run

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - For years Democrat Nick Casey helped others pursue political office.

The former chairman of the state party said Tuesday the time is right for his own run, and he announced his candidacy for U.S. Congress.

"I'm running because we have a problem in Washington. I'm sure, just like you, you're totally fed up with the gridlock in D.C.," Casey said.

"I can get along. I can work with people. I can reach across and have a conversation...Send me to Washington and I will help get things done for all of us," he continued.

In late 2012, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., announced her intention to run for U.S. Senate. Shortly thereafter Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., said he would retire after his term ended in 2014. Rockefeller said the decision had nothing to do with Capito.

Casey served as head of the West Virginia Democratic Party from 2004 to 2010. He is managing partner of the Charleston-based law firm Lewis, Glasser, Casey & Rollins as well as a certified public accountant.

In February he was elected treasurer of the American Bar Association, the national organization for the legal profession. He has served as president of the state bar association as well and volunteers with the Catholic church.

As state party chairman, he said he learned it was important to focus on candidates and not be a candidate. He worked to support Democrat campaigns in the state at all levels, including the West Virginia efforts of President Barack Obama.

Obama lost every county in the last election. Casey said he expects opponents to try to link him and the president to capitalize on Obama's lack of popularity in this state.

"I expect everyone adversarial toward me to try to use the President of the United States as a drawback. But you know, that's all politics," Casey said. "By the time I'm elected, the president will be as lame a duck as you can have. This is about the future."

State GOP Chairman Conrad Lucas did bring up the president in response to Casey's announcement, adding he's confident a Republican will retain the seat Capito has held for a decade.

"In today's announcement Nancy Pelosi has found her recruit in Obama's desperate attempt to win the U.S. House of Representatives," Lucas said in an emailed statement. "They had to look no further than someone who has contributed to Al Gore and John Kerry."

Casey pointed out opponents of Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, both Democrats, tried to tie those two with Obama in recent elections. Both won their races handily.

That doesn't mean Casey necessarily supports every aspect of the Obama agenda. 

"He's got an EPA that's got no rules, got no restrictions, got no guidance. That's bad," Casey said. "He's got a stimulus package that sounded good but didn't deliver."

Although Manchin wasn't one of the roughly 50 people in attendance at the Capitol for the announcement, he showed his support for Casey in a letter read during the press conference.

"Nick is a problem solver," Jack Rossi, former chair of Charleston Area Alliance, read from the Manchin letter. 

"Soak up Nick's enthusiasm, hit the streets and win this thing," it continued.

Casey likened his ability to get people to come together to traits espoused by Manchin.

Manchin recently made national headlines with his attempt to increase background checks for gun purchases, a move that had some Republican support.

 "At least they're talking to each other," Casey said. "They still don't agree, but a new spirit of at least conversation has begun. I believe I can bring that same spirit to the United States Congress on the House side."

Others in attendance Tuesday included former Sen. Carte Goodwin, former National Guard Adj. Gen. Allen Tackett, state AFL-CIO President Kenneth Perdue and Charleston Mayor Danny Jones.

Jones said he thinks Casey is a class act who would be in touch with reality. A Republican, Jones said he openly supported Tomblin, too.

"I'm an independent person, and if I want to get involved in Nick's campaign, I may," Jones said, adding Casey asked him to attend Tuesday.

"I made sure, 'Are you sure?' because I carry a little baggage," Jones continued. "But he's a great person, a really high-class guy."

Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper called the Daily Mail to say he is endorsing Casey. He said he couldn't imagine supporting anyone else in the race.

In a brief speech, Casey outlined several areas of focus for his campaign. Improving public infrastructure is his top priority. He said it would allow for business growth and job creation, his second priority.

Implementing a unified energy policy was his third priority: he said it was "embarrassing" for the United States to use so much foreign oil, and he decried the federal Environmental Protection Agency for overreach regarding coal.

He specifically mentioned veterans and seniors in his speech, providing few details other than to say they were important issues to him.

Casey said the timing for his announcement wasn't an attempt to "freeze out other candidates," but was because he has started receiving money. He didn't know offhand how much money his campaign had received. He's still working on getting his campaign staff together.

Delegate Doug Skaff, D-Kanawha, recently said he was weighing a run for Congress. In a phone interview Tuesday, Skaff said he knew Casey was going to run and it wouldn't affect Skaff's own decision. He still plans to announce his decision sometime in May.

Considering Casey's involvement in the state over the years -- he helped Manchin on several campaigns -- Skaff said it wasn't a surprise to see so many people attend Tuesday's announcement.

"Just because they were there doesn't mean that's an endorsement," Skaff added.

Rod Snyder, president of Young Democrats of America and son of state Sen. Herb Snyder, D-Jefferson, said he also is considering a run for Congress.

Republicans believed to be interested in the seat include House Minority Leader Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha; Senate Minority Leader Mike Hall, R-Putnam; Delegate Patrick Lane, R-Kanawha; Delegate Eric Nelson, R-Kanawha; former lawmaker Steve Harrison and former state GOP chairman Mike Stuart.

Contact writer Dave Boucher at 304-348-4843 or david.boucher@dailymail.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/Dave_Boucher1.

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