HNN Staff
John Raese
John Raese
Don't count Greer Industries CEO John Raese out of the GOP Primary for Governor.  That's the word from former Bluefield Mayor Craig Hammond, who also hosts a popular talk radio program on WHIS-AM in Bluefield.

"I'm getting hit with this every day, people asking me if John might run for Governor now that we know there's going to be a special election this year," said Hammond, a former Young Republicans State Chairman. "The truth is, I don't know, but I do know this:  there's some serious interest going on out there for John and in both parties and with many Independents, too."

Raese lost a topsy-turvy contest for U.S. Senate last November to then-Governor Joe Manchin.  At one point, Raese was ahead seven points against Manchin, but the Marion County Democrat held on and now is serving the balance of the late Robert Byrd's term through 2012.

"So what I'm telling people is that there's no politico alive that doesn't like to hear from people when they're deliberating whether to run or not," said Hammond.

"As a result, some of my conservative friends from around the state and I are starting a "Draft John Raese for Governor" effort, starting today," said Hammond.  "We're asking people to call John personally at his office at (304) 296-1751 to encourage him to run.  We want John to stay in the game. I've always thought he would make a fine Governor with his administration skills as a CEO."

Alice Click, a longtime conservative activist from Mason County, shared Hammond's enthusiasm.  "Our state has never needed a man with John Raese's experience more," said Click. "Take a look at that State Senate mess right now, fighting like a bunch of little kids."

"We need a strong hand as Governor, yet also someone who has worked well with a variety of personalities," said Click.  "John has worked with labor and management and has balanced multi-million dollar budgets all of his adult life at Greer Industries.  The people are in great need of someone with this kind of serious executive experience from the private sector, not just another government hound. Clearly, we've had enough of that."
HNN Senior Political Analyst Jack Ellis says that a Raese candidacy would be an eye-popper and would add a whole new dimension to the race.

"You look at the current field of candidates for Governor right now in both parties and, let's face it, people don't know any of them that well," said Ellis. "Nobody really remembers Betty Ireland, who has been out of office for a few years now, and Natalie Tennant and John Perdue vastly overrate their fame as lesser state officials.  By the way, where's the money coming from for their campaigns? Inquiring minds want to know."

"John Raese proved last year that he can put together a viable campaign in short order in what was a very compressed election," Ellis said.  "This time, Raese would have more time to establish himself and flesh out his agenda."

"This could well be John Raese's year," said Ellis.


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