HNN Staff
EDITORIAL:  Is GOP's Maloney on a Ghost Train?

People in conservative circles across West Virginia are beginning to ask variations on this same basic question:  "Is Bill Maloney on a ghost train in his quest to overtake Acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin?"   Those asking this question note that they have seen very little of Maloney since his Republican Primary victory several weeks ago.  And they wonder what kind of money Maloney can put together for the upcoming fall campaign.

Indeed, thus far, Maloney's campaign has the feel of Cleve Benedict's campaign versus Gaston Caperton in 1992: a quality Republican candidate, well-heeled, but with no significant enthusiasm among big donors and the grassroots.  That makes for tough sledding.

Another feature the Maloney campaign has with Benedict's 1992 effort is the question of how much money the Republican nominee is willing to throw into the fight.  Benedict had the money--but by Labor Day of that re-election year for Caperton, the Democratic Governor had such a significant lead that Benedict seemed to fold up his checkbook and just ride it out through the fall.

Could spending another half a million have made a difference in the outcome that year for Benedict?   Probably not, but you never know.

Maloney may face the same question.  While we have heard that fundraisers are coming up soon for the former drilling business executive, the amount raised will be particularly crucial this year.  If Maloney appears to have struck a nerve with the kind of donors who can give big to a Governor's campaign, then Maloney may only need to match those donors dollar for dollar from his own private funds.

However, this is going to be an expensive little race, and even though it ends in early October, a minimum budget of $3 million will likely be needed for both candidates.

With the advantage of incumbency, Tomblin may not need to spend any of his own funds.  Everyone wants to be in good with the frontrunner, especially when that candidate is currently in power.

So how much is Bill Maloney prepared to spend from his own checking account?  $1 million?  $2 million?  More?

Since no serious grassroots enthusiasm for Maloney beyond his primary voters has appeared as yet, Maloney will need as much money as he can put together, one way or the other, in order to close the 15 point gap between him and Tomblin.   We hope he finds a way to do that--West Virginians deserve a serious campaign on the issues this year.

The truth is that Republican nominees in West Virginia have almost always had to dig deep into their own wallets to have a competitive campaign with the Democratic nominee.  Unless fundraising goes very well for Maloney and soon, the GOP's nominee will have to drill deeply into his own bank account--or face an embarassing result in October.