POCA -- It's common for politicians in West Virginia to decry regulations created by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, disavow a so-called "war on coal" and pledge a renewed focus on job creation.
Republican Ron Walters Jr. hit all three Tuesday at a rainy announcement ceremony kicking off his campaign for the second district seat. The 29-year-old first-time candidate said his small business experience helps him stand apart from other GOP candidates in the race.
"I think my background as a small business operator ... I have a lot of background working on a budget, working together with people, and I hope to bring that to Washington to break the partisan gridlocks and political posturing that's been going on for years, stifling small business owners..." Walters said Tuesday morning.
He works as a financial consultant at R.N. Walters & Associates, a firm founded and owned by his father, Ron Walters Sr.
Ron Walters Jr. doesn't own the company, but he said he runs the day-to-day operations, manages the firm's finances and deals with other aspects of running a business.
Walters Jr., who earned his undergraduate degree from West Virginia University in 2007 and a masters from the University of London-Royal Holloway in 2010, said his experience with economics and finances would serve the district well.
Walters Jr. said his primary goal would be stopping regulations that kill jobs and devastate the economy. He didn't specify any regulations, but later bemoaned EPA regulations' effects on the private sector. Removing those regulations and creating a simpler tax system will help small businesses and encourage more West Virginians to stay and work in the state, he said.
"How could we ever hope to retain our best and brightest, if we can't provide basic infrastructure necessary for the 21st century?" Walters Jr. said. "We need to do more to stop the brain drain of our kids."
He also wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act -- commonly known as Obamacare -- and downsize government.
About 15 people attended the ceremony, the latest in a string of announcements by Republicans vying for the seat. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., represents the district now, but announced she will run for Senate next year. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., said earlier this year he would not seek re-election.