* EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the first in a series of gubernatorial candidate profiles. Stories on Democrat Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and Mountain Party candidate Jesse Johnson will also appear this week.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Dreamswork Fieldhouse is not a remarkable name for University High School's athletic building.
But the name is a remark on the Republican candidate for governor, Bill Maloney, who started the charity fund with his wife.
On the campaign trail, "work" is Maloney's theme: As a businessman, he's done it and created it. In West Virginia, there isn't enough of it. And he wants to change that.
Now voters must again decide whether they believe he can. They did not think so last year. That's when Maloney lost a special election for a one-year term to Democrat Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.
Even Maloney's fiercest critics concede he is a nice guy with a good business background. But they publicly question whether he knows policy well enough to talk about it or has enough skill to govern.
University's retired long-time Principal Bill Wilson does not have that question.
Wilson argues the learning curve for governor is "not that steep - I hate to tell them."
Wilson credits Maloney with helping to find the site for the new high school, which opened in 2008. He remembers Maloney poring over building plans, selling the construction bond during talks with community groups and finally raising private money to help build the school's athletic facilities, which are some of the nicest in the state.
"Bill has the capacity to see disjointed parts and put them together," Wilson said.
Wilson had a simple pitch.
"West Virginia, give Bill the job. If you don't like it, you can get rid of him in four years," Wilson said. "Hell, four years to see if it works."
Some wonder what Maloney can do if he takes office. He will likely have an experienced, Democrat-controlled Legislature to contend with.
Maloney said he has a basic philosophy for what needs to be changed in West Virginia: cut bureaucracies, weed out corruption, shakeup public education and pass tort reforms.
Sometimes he is short on the details, though. When he does offer specifics, they can end up biting him.
But Maloney said his "basic philosophy" will be good for the state, just let him get into office.
"I see my opponent; he's surrounded himself with a bunch of young lawyers," Maloney said. "No business experience there."
Maloney was not a politician before he started his run. Nor does he appear to be an ideologue: He's donated to Democrats like Joe Manchin and Mike Oliverio, a fact that came up during last year's Republican primary.
But he once chaired the state Builders and Contractors Association. That brought him into occasional contact with lawmakers in Charleston and Washington.
If Maloney learned anything from those brief forays into politics, it's that insiders have the power in Charleston.
"It seems a lot of deals got done at the Marriott bar," Maloney said. "It didn't do you any good to go to somebody's office."
Maloney turned 54 earlier this month. He was born in Syracuse, N.Y.
Democrats have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to make sure voters know he is technically a New Yorker. But it's a frustrating label for the Maloneys.
"Where did we choose to live and where did we choose to stay?" his wife, Sharon Maloney, said.
West Virginia has lost about 100,000 people since they moved here in 1981. Bill Maloney talks about that on the campaign trail, blames Tomblin for it and pledges to reverse the brain drain.
Bill and Sharon met in 1978. They were both 19. Sharon, who is six weeks older than Bill, was going to the University of Delaware and he was going to Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. They married three years later. They were both 22.
Maloney started his career as a drilling engineer at Layne. He started out in Edison, N.J., a township of about 70,000 people at the time.
"I was like, 'Get me out of there, what've you got?' " he recalled telling his bosses at Layne.
The Maloneys spent three months in Pittsburgh, and then came to Teays Valley in 1981 just as West Virginia University's football team was having its first winning season in six years. They quickly became Mountaineer fans.
Three years later, Bill Maloney "threw it all away" in the Kanawha Valley, moved to Morgantown and started North American Drillers in 1984 with another ex-Layne man.
The company started on loans and with the help of family. (Maloney's parents died about nine months apart in the mid-1990s.)
"There was a lot of times we didn't get a paycheck because the employees had to be paid before us," Sharon Maloney said.
There is an easy way to chart the company's success: as the holes got bigger, so did the company.