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Thanks, Raese, for making it a race

WHEN Morgantown businessman John Raese, a longtime Republican activist, announced that he would once again challenge popular Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin this fall, the talking heads focused immediately on the "once again."

There was a ho-hum quality to some stories, as if Raese were a lead pipe cinch to lose.

I don't see it that way.

What some dismiss as yet another hopeless campaign, I see as evidence of a lifelong belief that the economy of West Virginia and the United States should be — and could be — a whole lot better than they are.

He thinks the country is on the wrong track big-time, and he's willing to stand up and fight for change.

He doesn't have to do that, but he does, and has for a long time.

Why?

Could it be conviction?

Raese is president and chief executive officer of Greer Industries, which is in the steel and limestone business.

He also owns the Dominion Post in Morgantown, the West Virginia Radio Corp., which owns 15 radio stations; and the Metronews network, which serves 56 stations.

He's secure, — he'll be slimed as a millionaire with homes in other states — but he's got plenty to do. He doesn't need the personal abuse of a bruising Senate campaign — punishment he has endured several times.

He's certainly not looking for a long political career.

Which means he's not afraid of the electorate. He doesn't care whether he'd be re-elected.

Which means he wouldn't hedge his bets — never has.

In 1984, Raese ran for the U.S. Senate against Jay Rockefeller.

Rockefeller outspent him $12 million to $1.2 million and beat him 52 percent to 48 percent.

Rockefeller has been with us ever since.

In 1988, Raese ran against Gov. Arch Moore in the Republican gubernatorial primary and lost the nomination 53 percent to 47 percent.

In 2006, Raese ran against the late U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd, who beat him 64.4 percent to 33.7 percent.

In 2010, Raese challenged Manchin for Byrd's Senate seat.

It seemed like tilting at windmills, but Raese made it a lot more interesting than that.

He complained that the United States has been in an "industrial coma" for decades.

No argument there.

The steel industry is a shadow of its former self. The once-mighty American auto industry is an industrial basket case.

West Virginians remain 49th in per capita income.

Was all this inevitable?

No.

Can none of it be changed?

No again.

Well, why hasn't it changed?

Manchin is a conservative Democrat. He has an impressive record for fixing broken policies and programs as governor.

He was expected to cruise into the Senate.

But Raese made it a race.

He said Manchin, once in the Senate, would be "Washington Joe," and would vote his party, not his convictions, when the chips were down.

One of the most personable, capable, popular governors West Virginia has ever had won by only a 53.5 percent to 43.4 percent margin. That's a landslide, but it wasn't a tsunami.

Now Raese says:

"We have a president who has been an absolute disaster . . . and a senator who supports that disaster," Raese said. "He has voted with Obama over 85 percent of the time.

"Last time around I called him a rubber stamp and he didn't let me down."

Arguable, but there are things  to talk about:

Obamacare, the Environmental Protection Agency, trillion-dollar deficits, a national debt that's now north of $14.2 trillion.

The nation is at a crossroads.

The liberal Democrats who hold sway in the Senate want the United States to be more like socialist Europe.

Well, Europe is melting down.

Manchin is quite capable of addressing these issues. He and Raese probably agree on many.

But I'm glad Raese is once again willing to make it a race.

Free enterprise has lifted more people out of poverty than any government program ever will. But in these United States, it's not being allowed to work.

It should be. How we get there is an argument worth having.

Maurice is editorial page editor of the Daily Mail. She may be reached at 348-4802 or hanna@dailymail.com.


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