EDITORIAL: Raese is West Virginia's Original Reaganite

HNN Staff

John Raese re-established himself on the West Virginia political landscape with his spirited campaign against then Democratic Governor Joe Manchin in the 2010 U.S. Senate special election.  But Raese's credentials as a true political conservative run deep, at least as far back as 1984, when the 34 year old Raese electrified the state by nearly picking off another two-term Democratic Governor, Jay Rockefeller.

Obviously, Raese likes a challenge.  When you consider the climb involved in taking on a statewide-elected Democratic Governor in 2-1  Democratic West Virginia, well, it's understandable why so many other potential challengers give up early.  In the case of Rockefeller, Raese was also running against one of the world's greatest fortunes.  Imagine Rockefeller spending $12 million back in 1984 to fend off the upstart  Raese in a small media market state like West Virginia.  What would the equivalent be today?  $25 million?

But Raese has consistently bet on the voters of West Virginia, a state he knows well from growing up in Morgantown, playing baseball at Morgantown High School and then WVU.  Raese knows West Virginia, has devoted his entire business career to building up his family's West Virginia businesses. Headquarted in Cheat Lake near Morgantown, Raese's Greer Industries are spread out throughout West Virginia in places like Kanawha and Pendleton Counties.  His Metronews Radio Network--an idea of Raese's borne out of the 1984 U.S. Senate campaign--touches listeners in all 55 counties of the state.

Much is made of Raese's wealth, but those close to him know that he is able to connect well with average folks in both parties, as well as Independents, out on the stump.  Clad in jeans and brown leather jacket, Raese decries the Obama Administration's intrusion into key West Virginia industries like coal and timber.  An ardent defender of capitalism, developed in him by his entrepreneurial grandmother, Jane Greer, Raese delights in the initiative shown by a new generation of West Virginia entrepreneurs. 

"All we need is for the government to get off our backs," said Raese on the campaign trail in 2010.  "If we can unshackle ourselves from the ungodly regulations of the Obama Administation, we can become one of the most successful states on the East Coast.  We've got good labor, a great strategic location.  We're not asking for anything but fair treatment for business here."

Raese's message is consistent.  While other West Virginia political figures bob and weave with the times, Raese's political philosophy is pure Ronald Reagan, whom he campaigned with in 1984 in Parkersburg.  1984 was Reagan's re-election year, and Raese has mentioned before how much it meant to him to share the stage with the popular Republican President.

Like Reagan, Raese has always stood up for small businesses, lower taxes, traditional values, and a robust national defense.  When other Republican leaders in West Virginia were still lukewarm on the conservative Reagan Revolution, Raese stood up for the former California Governor at every opportunity.

In 2012, GOP Presidential candidates from Gingrich to Romney to Santorum are claiming their share of the Reagan mantle.  They know that recent popularity polls on past American Presidents have shown a renewed love of the President who brought the Soviets to their knees.  They sense a renewed appreciation for Reagan's domestic policies brought 70 consecutive months of sustained economic growth, the longest peacetime recovery since the post-World War II era.  Millions of jobs were created during the feel-good 1980s of Ronald Reagan, and Americans felt good to be Americans again.

None of this comes as a surprise to John Raese, who has renewed his own conservative cause in West Virginia by filing for a rematch with Joe Manchin in 2012. 

"People remember," said Raese following a Tea Party event in Harrison County late last year.  "They know that the Reagan Era produced more jobs than any other in modern history.  We need to look to what President Reagan did to stimulate the economy, adapt it for our own times, and then replicate his success.  President Reagan believed in Americans.  Now is the time to honor him by reinvigorating our economy and becoming truly competitive again.  We can do it, and we must do it for our children's sake.  2012 may be our last, best chance to turn things around."

 

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