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Senate candidates speak up, out at forum

August 20, 2010|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

SHENANDOAH JUNCTION, W.Va. -- The positions taken by 13 of the 14 candidates vying to complete the unexpired term of the late U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd varied greatly, but all said in a forum held Thursday at Jefferson High School that they would have voted against the health care reform act.

And all of the candidates appeared to be disappointed that Gov. Joe Manchin, who is seen by many to be the frontrunner for the Senate seat, was absent.

"Has anybody seen him at the table tonight? Haven't seen him," said Republican John R. Raese answering his own question.

"I can tell you something, arrogance will never win anybody anything and the fact that one person isn't here tonight that should be here, that's the real question," Raese said, prompting applause from a crowd of more than 100 people, which included local lawmakers and candidates.

Early voting for the Aug. 28 primary election to select political party nominees for the Senate seat begins today.

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Manchin was taking part in Governor's Day activities, including the Healthy Lifestyles Walk, at the State Fair in Fairlea, W.Va., in Greenbrier County, according to a news release from his office.

After answering a series of questions about the economy, environment and foreign policy issues, each candidate was asked to answer yes, no, or present on how they would have voted on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the extension of unemployment benefits last month, the stimulus bill known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) for financial institutions in the subprime mortgage crisis and the "card-check" bill, which is viewed as pro-union legislation.

Raese was the only Republican candidate to say he would have voted for the Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2010, which benefited more than 2.5 million Americans whose payment had been cut.

Both Democratic candidates Ken Hechler and Sheirl Fletcher and Mountain Party candidate Jesse Johnson said they would have voted for the bill.

While Hechler and Fletcher both said they would have voted for the stimulus bill, they split on TARP and the Employee Free Choice Act, known as the card-check bill, with Fletcher saying she was opposed to both.

Johnson said "present" for both the TARP and card-check legislation and Republican Frank Kubic twice said he didn't know how he would vote on card-check.

The GOP candidates are Thomas Ressler, Harry Bruner, Kubic, Raese, Daniel Scott Rebich, Kenneth Culp, Albert Howard, Lynette Kennedy McQuain, Scott H. Williams and Mac Warner.

Prior to what was described as the "lightning round" of yes and no responses regarding support of specific legislation, the candidates were divided into groups of three and four and each group was asked to respond to different questions on the economy, foreign policy and environmental issues by a panel comprised of Patricia Rucker, Bob Adams, Patience Wait and Hans Fogle.

The forum, moderated by Heather Henline, was sponsored by the League of American Voters.

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