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Democrats meet in Martinsburg

October 14, 2006|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller said Friday he will run for re-election in 2008 and West Virginia's junior senator believes fellow Democratic Sen. Robert C. Byrd is in "great shape" to win another six-year term in November.

Rockefeller joined Byrd, Gov. Joe Manchin, former U.S. Sen. Max Cleland, D-Ga., congressional candidate Mike Callaghan and a host of state and local Democratic Party leaders and supporters Friday for the second annual Regional Jefferson-Jackson Dinner fundraiser and rally in Martinsburg at the Holiday Inn.

Before dinner was served, Manchin said he would be campaigning as much as he could for area state lawmakers seeking election in November, praising their "hard and tough work they've done."

"I just don't like the untruths that are being told," said Manchin, specifically noting mailings and other campaign materials apparently distributed by Republican Party campaigns.

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"John Unger (D-Berkeley) has worked so hard," said Manchin, touting the 16th state senator as a "bright and engaging" legislator.

Byrd, meanwhile, deflected the substance of numerous advertisements aired by his opponent, John Raese, including one commercial that uses the 88-year-old senator's own words of being West Virginia's "big daddy."

"It was all in fun," Byrd said of the remarks he made in a speech in August.

"In a campaign a lot of things are said. But the people of West Virginia know me....they know, what they see is what they get. I look forward to continuing to serve them, said Byrd, describing his 48-years in office as "an honor."

When asked what should to be done in the next six years to improve the economy, Byrd said the nation needs to "stick with the old values and believe in the people."

"That's the source of our strength - the people."

Cleland, a disabled veteran, heaped support on Byrd's long held position concerning the Iraq war.

"It's a disaster and Senator Byrd knew that from the beginning and articulated it many times," Cleland said.

"We're on the wrong track and this election is all about getting on the right track," Cleland said.

Despite U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito's reported sizable advantage in campaign fundraising, Callaghan said he was confident in his grassroots effort and said he believed he won the first of two debates planned in their race.

"She'll run more ads and that's fine," said Callaghan, adding he will have his own television commercial running on Monday.

Berkeley County Democratic Party leader John Fink said the event sold out and raised more than $15,000. Approximately 300 attended.

Fink and other event sponsors, along with some of the Democratic Party's largest contributors joined the gathering of top elected leaders for group photographs before dinner was served.Former County Commissioner Robert L. Burkhart was presented with the Earl Barney Lifetime Achievement Award and Bill Yearout and Annie Otto also were recognized as Democrats of the Year.

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