U.S. Senate candidate Bob Henry Baber of the Mountain Party says West Virginians shouldn't be afraid to consider voting for third party candidates this year.
The 61-year-old Glenville State College professor was his party's nominee in last year's special gubernatorial election. This year, he's representing the Mountain Party in the race for U.S. Senate.
Baber is the third man in the race also featuring the well-funded campaigns of Republican John Raese and incumbent Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. Of the $2,000 Baber has spent on his campaign, most went to pay the cost of filing fees.
During a phone interview last week, Baber said his opponents' million-dollar war chests were actually a sign of how weak their parties have become.
"If their messages are so great, why do they pay so much for advertising?" Baber said. "If they had a good message, why can't they just put it out for the people to hear?"
Baber was the first Mountain Party member ever elected to public office, becoming mayor of Richwood in 2004.
He made waves during a public debate in Shepherdstown last month when he said Raese's attacks against Manchin as being anti-coal and an ally of President Barack Obama's environmental policies were "bulls-t."
While he apologized for the profanity, Baber still says the attacks are false.
"Everybody in West Virginia knows that Joe Manchin is too close to coal," he said. "And the reason we know Joe Manchin is too close to coal is - let us never forget - that Joe Manchin rode back to the scene of the Upper Big Branch crime on Don Blankenship's dime."
He has referring to the fact that Manchin accepted an offer from Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship to fly from Florida to West Virginia on a company plane following the disaster.
While Baber defended Manchin from Raese's attacks, he said the differences between the two major national parties are no longer that great.
"I would lump the Democrats and Republicans together as Republicrats," Baber said. "They put on a pretty good show trying to throw pies at each other."
He said both parties have pandered to their base on matters like the country's staggering debt. Instead, he said people need to realize the country must come together and equally sacrifice and compromise to get the country's finances in order.
Baber acknowledges he's a long shot to win the election. In fact, he predicted Manchin would probably beat Raese by about 20 points on Tuesday.
"I understand people vote for the lesser of two evils," he said. "In this election, Joe Manchin is the lesser of two evils."
He said Raese "is not fit to be a senator."
"He's an obstructionist, petulant and will act like a child who always has to get his way in the Senate," Baber said.
Raese has little affection for Baber either. When he realized he would have to participate in another discussion with Baber with the Charleston Gazette editorial board, Raese walked out.