Raese may join race for Senate
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Republican John Raese said Thursday he may run for West Virginia's open U.S. Senate seat.
"I'm obviously concerned about country," the Morgantown businessman said. "If you have children, you are certainly going to be concerned. I couldn't see how you couldn't be."
Raese, 60, said he would have a pro-business, low-tax, low-regulation platform that would emphasize spending cuts and be similar to the one he ran on in 2006.
That's when he unsuccessfully tried to unseat Robert Byrd, whose death last month created the current Senate vacancy.
"The message today I was trying to run on resonates a bit more than in 2006," Raese said.
He blamed both parties for massive national debt and billions in unfunded liabilities, which he called "an IOU note to oblivion."
The state's political leaders are "career politicians" who lack business experience, he said.
Raese is the head of Greer Industries, a network of businesses that include the largest limestone producer in West Virginia, a multi-state steel producer, West Virginia Radio Corp. and The Dominion Post newspaper. Rease and his brothers inherited a lot of the business from their grandparents, he said.
Raese said he is prepared to take on Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, the state's most prominent Republican. Capito is still deciding whether she will run. Raese, Capito and Democratic Gov. Joe Manchin are waiting for state lawmakers to solidify state election law before they announce their intentions.
Raese said Capito is a Republican who passes herself off as a conservative.
"She's a career politician," said Raese, who ran and lost a primary election to Capito's father, former Gov. Arch Moore.
"You have almost 50 years of that family," he said. "That's almost an entitlement, isn't it?"
He also had harsh words for Manchin, who is likely to be the Demcoratic nominee for the Senate seat.
"Certainly Gov. Soprano is in full support of President Obama and his socialist regime, and I got to wonder what his career is going to be like in Washington," Raese said.
Asked why he would bring up Manchin's Italian heritage - by comparing him to a fictional mob boss in the former HBO series "The Sopranos" - and whether he was planning to run a negative campaign, Raese said, "The trouble with America here today is that we've lost our sense of humor."
Raese was told that Manchin has recently outlined a series of objections to the Obama administration's policies and that the current governor said he would "respectfully" disagree with Obama. His potential challenger still said Manchin wasn't doing enough.
"I see a governor that clearly supports Obama, walks hand-in-hand with him - if you respectfully disagree, does that have any effect on what he does? The answer is no. It takes a vigorous, vigorous dissent," Raese said.
He said his campaign would focus on financial rather than social issues.
"Mostly my message is budget because here in the United States if we don't do something about our monetary system, we're through," Raese said.
Rease, who is personally wealthy, said in West Virginia a campaign requires only enough to get the message across.
He said he raised "almost $1.5 million" when he ran against Byrd.
"I am not intimidated by incumbent money," Rease said, referring to Capito. "I am certainly not intimated by gubernatorial incumbent money, either."
Contact writer Ry Rivard at email@example.com or 304-348-1796.