CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Republican Party candidates and organizations have been running media ads criticizing Sen. Joe Manchin and Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, arguing that the Democrats promote policies that hurt the coal industry and kill jobs throughout the state's economy.
Seth Wimer, who is managing Bill Maloney's gubernatorial campaign, said, "We have fewer people working than any other state in the nation, and we have lost over 3,000 coal mining jobs in the last 10 months because of Earl Ray Tomblin's policies, like West Virginia cap-and-trade.
"While Earl Ray's support comes from the lobbyists and politicians who depend on him for insider deals, Bill Maloney earned the support of thousands of West Virginia coal miners who know he will help them get back to work," Wimer told the Gazette-Mail.
In this year's election campaigns, though, Tomblin and Manchin both have been endorsed by business and labor groups, including the state Chamber of Commerce, West Virginia AFL-CIO, the West Virginia Coal Association and the United Mine Workers union.
Larry Puccio, chairman of the West Virginia Democratic Party, said, "I would like to say that I am not surprised, but that I am truly shocked that the Raese-Maloney team believes they can spend millions of dollars trying to discredit the state Chamber of Commerce, the West Virginia AFL-CIO, our coal miners in the UMWA, and the people who invest in coal mining jobs -- the West Virginia Coal Association.
"These groups are real West Virginians who have endorsed and totally support Senator Joe Manchin and Governor Earl Ray Tomblin," Puccio said. "I believe these groups deserve to be heard from after being attacked by the Raese-Maloney team."
Conrad Lucas, chairman of the West Virginia Republican Party, said that, "after 80 years of complete control in the state Legislature, failed Democratic policies have made West Virginia the second-poorest state in the nation.
"They have us ranked 51st in overall education performance, 49th in private-sector job growth, 48th in per-capita income," Lucas said. "And West Virginia ranks dead last in percent of its work force that is actually employed.
"I don't know how you can look at that track record and call it anything but an utter failure. Earl Ray has been in state government for almost half of that 80 years, so that's plenty of time to prove that he is simply incapable of figuring out how to remedy this travesty."
Joshua Sowards, Raese's campaign communications director, said, "The AFL-CIO, an explicit campaign arm of President Obama's Democrat Party, abandoned West Virginia workers years ago.
"At the Chamber of Commerce, Coal Association, and the UMWA union, it's a question of really pathetic leadership. These are nothing more than compliance groups. They teach people how to get along with the current system of government."
The number of West Virginia coal mines dropped from 264 to 174 between 2008 and May 2012, Sowards added, while as many as 10 power plants have shut down in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland and West Virginia.