WHEN Morgantown businessman John Raese, a longtime Republican activist, announced that he would once again challenge popular Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin this fall, the talking heads focused immediately on the "once again."
There was a ho-hum quality to some stories, as if Raese were a lead pipe cinch to lose.
I don't see it that way.
What some dismiss as yet another hopeless campaign, I see as evidence of a lifelong belief that the economy of West Virginia and the United States should be - and could be - a whole lot better than they are.
He thinks the country is on the wrong track big-time, and he's willing to stand up and fight for change.
He doesn't have to do that, but he does, and has for a long time.
Could it be conviction?
Raese is president and chief executive officer of Greer Industries, which is in the steel and limestone business.
He also owns the Dominion Post in Morgantown, the West Virginia Radio Corp., which owns 15 radio stations; and the Metronews network, which serves 56 stations.
He's secure, - he'll be slimed as a millionaire with homes in other states - but he's got plenty to do. He doesn't need the personal abuse of a bruising Senate campaign - punishment he has endured several times.
He's certainly not looking for a long political career.
Which means he's not afraid of the electorate. He doesn't care whether he'd be re-elected.
Which means he wouldn't hedge his bets - never has.
In 1984, Raese ran for the U.S. Senate against Jay Rockefeller.
Rockefeller outspent him $12 million to $1.2 million and beat him 52 percent to 48 percent.
Rockefeller has been with us ever since.
In 1988, Raese ran against Gov. Arch Moore in the Republican gubernatorial primary and lost the nomination 53 percent to 47 percent.
In 2006, Raese ran against the late U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd, who beat him 64.4 percent to 33.7 percent.
In 2010, Raese challenged Manchin for Byrd's Senate seat.
It seemed like tilting at windmills, but Raese made it a lot more interesting than that.
He complained that the United States has been in an "industrial coma" for decades.
No argument there.
The steel industry is a shadow of its former self. The once-mighty American auto industry is an industrial basket case.
West Virginians remain 49th in per capita income.