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Former nun launches campaign for Capito's seat

November 25, 2009|By RICHARD F. BELISLE

CHARLES TOWN, W.VA. -- Virginia Lynch Graf, a former Catholic nun with no money -- and so far no campaign organization -- stood in front of the Jefferson County Courthouse and told about 50 supporters Wednesday that she was launching a "dark horse" run against Republican U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito in 2010. 

"Never before in my wildest dreams did I think I would be asking you to serve in this capacity," the 70-year-old Graf said. "But I do now."

Graf, president of Jefferson County Democratic Women, said she plans to visit all 18 courthouses in the sprawling Second District.

Her campaign theme, she said, is "character counts. It's what makes a democratic republic work."

Graf said she understands she is challenging a veteran congresswoman with a $2 million war chest, but she believes that when people get to know her and what she stands for, she will overcome that obstacle.

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"I know the odds are not in my favor, for I am surely a dark horse candidate. But this is Charles Town, where horse racing has a long tradition," she said. "I also know they called our great president, Abraham Lincoln, a dark horse, and look what a wonderful difference his candidacy and election made."

Graf said "after careful consideration of the future of West Virginia and its need for quality education and jobs, I looked around to see who was going to build on what Sen. Byrd has done by bringing job opportunities to our state." 

Graf said Capito "primarily supported those intent on thwarting the new president's efforts to bring about beneficial changes ... she voted in favor of business and against any legislation that would help ordinary West Virginians."

Graf singled out legislation that she said Capito opposed, including the Lilly Ledbetter Equal Pay for Equal Work Act, the Affordable Health Care Act, the Helping Families Save their Home Act and the Pay for Performance act.

"These legislative bills were all aimed to help the middle class regain its financial footing and to hold corporations accountable," Graf said in her campaign statement.

Calls to Capito's office in Washington were not returned Wednesday.

Graf said she left the religious order not because she was unhappy but for a "new call...to leave the safety and security of the convent walls, to stand on my own two feet."

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