State Auditor Glen Gainer weighs run for Congress
Longtime State Auditor Glen Gainer says he is seriously considering challenging U.S. Rep. David McKinley when the Republican congressman comes up for re-election in 2014.
Gainer, 53, said Wednesday he is considering a run for Congress because he is "very disgusted with what's going on in Washington."
"It's time people go to Washington that understand compromise is not a dirty word," he said.
He said the Republican-controlled House of Representatives and the Democrat-dominated U.S. Senate are refusing to compromise with one another, passing budgets they know will never survive the other house.
Gainer said Democrats talk only about increasing revenue - that is to say, tax hikes - when looking at ways to solve the national deficit. Republicans want to talk only about cutting spending.
He said neither side is correct, and members of Congress need to cease their posturing and get down to business.
"If you cut every dime out of (the U.S. Department of Heath and Human Services), that's only $884 billion. The deficit is greater than that," he said.
"We have a revenue problem and a spending problem in this country. It's going to take both if we're going to get this country turned around.
"I may not be electable because I'm very outspoken about this."
Gainer, a Parkersburg native and University of Charleston alumnus, was first elected State Auditor in 1992. It was his first public office. He replaced his father, Glen Gainer Jr., who had served as auditor for 16 years.
He said his experience as auditor would help him in Congress, as his current job requires him to understand how budgets and governments must operate.
Gainer said people from the 1st district and in Washington, D.C. recently have encouraged him to run against McKinley.
"Quite honestly, it's something early in my political career I was always interested in doing," he said.
But the opportunity for a congressional campaign has only recently presented itself. Gainer is friends with former 1st District Rep. Alan Mollohan, a Democrat who served in that seat from 1983 to 2011.
Former state Sen. Mike Oliverio, D-Monongalia, defeated the longtime congressman in the 2010 primary election. McKinley then defeated Oliverio in that year's general election.
While Gainer said he is giving a 2014 congressional campaign a lot of thought, he emphasized he has not decided one way or another.
"I've made no decision and won't make any decision for a couple months," he said.
West Virginia Democratic Party Chairman Larry Puccio said he had heard Gainer was considering a run for Congress. He said no other Democrats have officially entered the 1st district race yet, but Gainer likely would make a good challenger for McKinley's seat.
"I definitely think an individual like Glen Gainer has so much respect from people around the state . . . he has so much credibility. I think he would be a strong candidate for that seat," he said.
Gainer's current job would not be in jeopardy if he were to run against McKinley and lose. His term as auditor will not end until 2017.