With a campaign war chest in excess of $750,000 -- including $500,000 in loans to himself -- Maloney went from a virtual unknown to moving ahead of Ireland in the final days of the campaign, according to an independent Public Policy Polling poll released Thursday.
A drilling company owner and consultant, Maloney garnered worldwide attention as part of a team of volunteers who freed 33 trapped Chilean miners last fall. He made the rescue a focal point of an early commercial introducing himself to voters.
Maloney portrayed himself as a rock-ribbed conservative and a political outsider, in contrast to Ireland, whom he called a "career politician" and a "liberal Republican."
Maloney went negative late in the campaign, running ads contending that Ireland had misused state funds, leased a luxury SUV as her state vehicle, and was the subject of a federal audit during her term as secretary of state.
Ireland dismissed the attack, suggesting that Maloney lacked a "moral code." She did not, however, aggressively confront the negative ads.
Ireland emphasized her experience as a state official and as a business executive, describing herself as "tough, tested, conservative."
Their campaigns left the rest of the field overwhelmed and under-funded.
Barnes, who ran some TV and radio spots near the end of the campaign, emphasized his experience from serving six years in the state Senate.
Some political observers concluded that the campaigns of Carmichael, a six-term delegate, and Sorsaia were geared primarily to build contacts and name recognition for future political runs.
Faircloth, a former delegate who also made a longshot bid for governor in 2004, provoked controversy by making offensive comments about President Obama and U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi during a campaign appearance. He later apologized, saying it was a joke.
Clark took part in forums and other candidate events, while Ellis maintained a very limited campaign schedule.Reach Phil Kabler at ph...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.