CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The coal industry and other energy interests are helping to fuel West Virginia's governor's race, contributing both to Republican Bill Maloney and the Democratic incumbent, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, the latest campaign finance reports show.
But while that sector provided one-fifth of each candidate's haul, Tomblin raised two and a half times as much as Maloney. Tomblin attracted $1.2 million between May 21 and Sept. 23, while Maloney received nearly $469,000 during that time, their filings show.
By Sept. 23, Maloney also had less than half as much in his campaign fund as Tomblin, $264,500 to $618,000. Maloney spent $829,600 during the reporting period. Tomblin expended $1 million more than that.
A Morgantown drilling consultant and business owner, Maloney derived a fourth of the amount from his hometown. He also loaned his campaign $250,000 from his own wealth. Maloney had self-financed to the tune of $2.45 million during last year's special gubernatorial race. Tomblin narrowly won that contest for an unexpired term, and his rematch with Maloney is for a full, four-year term.
West Virginia is the nation's second-leading producer of coal, and has seen interest increase in its portion of the Marcellus Shale natural gas reserve. But coal production has recently slowed -- in part because more power plants are burning cheap natural gas instead -- forcing mine layoffs and shutdowns.
The toughening climate for coal has become a major issue in this year's election. The state Coal Association has endorsed Tomblin, dubbing him and U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin as "West Virginia's Team" during uncertain times.
Coal interests account for the lion's share of Tomblin's energy sector contributors. Executives and workers for Alpha Natural Resources, Arch Coal, Consol Energy, Mepco, Patriot Coal and United Coal were among his campaign's donors during the reporting period.
Maloney's contributors also include Alpha and Patriot donors. His largest single source of campaign cash was Swanson Industries. The mining equipment supplier's officials and their spouses gave him more than $7,000.