ALTHOUGH the candidates had their game faces on for the Daily Mail's editorial board, they were a road-weary lot.
The primary election campaign to choose candidates for the Oct. 4 governor's race had been grueling.
The eight Republicans and six Democrats had already been all over the state meeting with newspaper editorial boards and attending sparsely attended "meet-the-candidate" events.
They knew what questions to expect, and they had their answers down pat. The meetings, first with Republicans and the next day with Democrats, produced few surprises.
Until, toward the end of the session, Managing Editor Brad McElhinny threw them a curve: He asked them essentially what they were like as kids and what led them to this moment.
What followed was amazing.
The candidates relaxed in their seats and told us stories we hadn't heard before. Jared Hunt captured them in two stories.
These are tremendously accomplished people, and almost all of them came from humble beginnings. They worked like dogs to become who they are.
They are lessons in human potential.
A sampling from the Republicans:
Ralph William Clark's family was so poor that his father was forever visiting junkyards to keep a rattletrap running. When Clark's third-grade teacher asked him what he wanted to do when he grew up, he said "I want to own a junkyard."
Instead, he's taught at WVU for 40 years.
Mitch Carmichael's father worked at the Kaiser Aluminum plant in Ravenswood, and Carmichael grew up in a neighborhood where kids "didn't play too loud during the day because their dads might have been on midnight shift the night before."
State Sen. Clark Barnes' father was a traveling minister of a conservative political persuasion. When the younger Barnes admitted to being impressed by Nelson Rockefeller, his father "retrained" him so successfully that he became an enthusiastic campaigner for Goldwater.
Charleston's Betty Ireland, like many West Virginians, left the state to go to college, but just had to come back. Her four children live elsewhere now.
"Our kids are gone. They're scattering to the wind, and I would do anything to get them back here. But if I can't get them back here, then I want to do what I can to make things better for other people's kids so maybe they'll stay."
Morgantown businessman Bill Maloney - rig hand turned engineer turned business owner - found the effort to rescue the Chilean miners catalytic.