It's official - Wise running for governor

May 03, 1999

Bob Wise running for GovernorBy BRYN MICKLE / Staff Writer, Martinsburg

photo: RIC DUGAN / staff photographer

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Bob Wise made it official Monday afternoon and announced he will make a run in the Democratic primary for West Virginia governor.

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Wise, 51, has held the 2nd Congressional District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1983 but said he can do more for the state from the governor's office.

"On the federal level you can only work on the federal piece. I want to pull together the federal, state, local and private sectors and make something happen," Wise said.


Speaking to about 50 supporters in a hangar at the Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport, Wise highlighted health care and economics in his announcement speech.

"State insurance health care costs are shooting up again and our growth rate is slowing. Important decisions aren't being made," he said.

The crowd, many carrying "Bob Wise For Governor" signs, responded with cheers and applause when Wise touched on issues related to families, health and education.

Wise, who represents the Eastern Panhandle as part of his Congressional district, said he sees the economic growth in the region as an example for other parts of West Virginia.

"What we have here we can send across the state," he said.

With an estimated $300,000 already in his campaign war chest, Wise said he needs to raise between $2 million and $3 million for a campaign through next year's general election.

Incumbent Republican Gov. Cecil Underwood has not officially announced plans to run for re-election, but the head of the state's Republican party said he expects Underwood to enter the race.

"I'm anticipating a strong race with a popular incumbent Republican. Bob Wise will have his hands full," said David Tyson, chairman of the West Virginia Republican State Executive Committee.

Jim Paige, a one-time member of former Democratic Gov. Gaston Caperton's staff, and Joseph Oliverio have already announced plans to seek the Republican nomination for governor.

Wise could have competition in the Democratic primary from Jim Lees and Joe Manchin, both of whom made unsuccessful bids for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 1996, according to West Virginia State Democratic Executive Committee Chairman Pat Maroney.

With Wise concentrating his efforts on the governor's race there is also speculation on who will succeed him in his 2nd District Congressional seat.

Del. Jon Amores, D-Kanawha, has already announced he will run for the seat. Fellow Democrat and West Virginia Secretary of State Ken Hechler has said he is considering a return to the House of Representatives after he ended an 18-year career in the House in 1976 to make an unsuccessful run for governor.

Wise said he will not endorse anyone in the primary race for his Congressional seat.

On the Republican side, Del. Shelley Capito, R-Kanawha, is considered a front-runner if she decides to run for the U.S. House of Representatives.

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