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GOP gubernatorial candidates pitch themselves at West Virginia Chamber of Commerce summit


White Sulphur Springs, W.Va. – The top four Republican candidates for governor of West Virginia in 2024 took the stage for the first time together Thursday to answer public policy questions.

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, Secretary of State Mac Warner, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Moore Capito and Huntington automobile dealership owner Chris Miller participated in a gubernatorial forum Thursday morning at the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce 87th Annual Meeting and Business Summit at the Greenbrier Resort.

Thursday’s forum was moderated by WSAZ-TV anchor Sarah Sager, who gave each candidate two minutes for opening introductions, where each candidate tried to sell themselves as the ideal person to lead West Virginia as the state’s next governor.

“I’m the get-it-done conservative,” said Capito, an attorney and the son of U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and grandson of the late former Republican Gov. Arch Moore. Capito is in his fourth two-year term in the House of Delegates representing Kanawha County. He touted his experiences in leadership helping build a Republican legislative supermajority and his chairmanship of the House Judiciary Committee.

“I always execute and deliver,” Capito said. “I will always put our people ahead of politics … There are a lot of people in this room who have worked with me and all of them will tell you I am a listener, and I am a doer. To take West Virginia to the next level, we must strengthen our communities, provide world-class education, continue our economic growth, and together we will get it done.”

“We don’t realize how great we have been, and we don’t realize how great we can be,” said Miller, the owner of the Dutch Miller automobile dealership empire and the son of U.S. Rep. Carol Miller, R-W.Va. “The rest of the world thinks we’re a bunch of hillbillies, but if you look at what is happening right now in West Virginia, the momentum is incredible. If you want to do something huge and accomplish greatness, then come with me.”

Miller said he took two of his family’s businesses and turned them into 26 enterprises, including automobile dealerships, insurance, real estate, bison farms and data and technology companies.

“We need to run state government more like a business,” Miller said. “We need to audit every single dime. We need to treat our taxpayers like customers with a simple-minded focus of making their lives better. Know what else we have to do? Break up the good old boys system that has been running our state for far too long.”

Morrisey is in his third term as attorney general, having first been elected in 2012. Calling himself the only proven conservative on stage, Morrisey promoted his record of winning cases before the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court during his tenure as the state’s top attorney.

“I would argue on this stage there is one proven conservative with a record that is second to none on all of the major issues West Virginians care about,” Morrisey said. “For all the promises that are going to be made by all the candidates up here, I would argue you have to go with the person who’s been there, who’s done that, and who’s proven his conservative bona fides time after time.”

“I don’t come to you today as part of political royalty or inheriting a big name,” Morrisey continued. “I come to you as a guy who has worked very hard in the arena who has not only been there and done that but has fought and delivered for West Virginia more than anyone on this stage combined.”

Warner is in his second term as secretary of state, having first taken office in 2017. Warner is a retired career Army officer whose children also served in the Army. He also was a contractor for the State Department in Afghanistan, advising its governmental agencies. As the only military veteran of the four candidates on stage, Warner said his Army background has prepared him to be governor.

“This event is the most important job interview we candidates will face, and in all likelihood one of us will be the next governor of the State of West Virginia,” Warner said. “As you make your decisions, carefully consider the life experiences for the people to best lead as governor … in short, I’ve been preparing to be your governor my entire life.”

Each candidate fielded four public policy questions during the 40-minute forum, including tackling the state’s steady population loss since the 1950s, streamlining government services, improving educational attainment for students and better promoting the state as a tourism destination.

Gov. Jim Justice is in his second and final term as governor, an office limited to two consecutive terms. Justice is a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, running for the seat held by Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.

Other Republican candidates for governor include Terri Bradshaw, Edwin Vanover, and Rashida Yost. Only Cecil Silva is listed as a Democratic precandidate for governor. All candidates are considered precandidates, allowing them to be able to raise money. The candidate filing period for races in 2024 begins in January.


Story by Steven Allen Adams, Parkersburg News and Sentinel



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