EDITORIAL: Fiscal Watchdog Clark Barnes is the One to Watch in Governor's Race

Tired as we all may be by the prospect of another special election, thanks to Joe Manchin vacating the premises early, no elected office has greater significance to West Virginians than that of Governor. The State Supreme Court is expected to decide whether the WV Constitution requires a special election in the next couple of weeks. Chances are, it will kick the date for such a special election back to the legislature.

Before Acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin was thrown from his hold on the State Senate by the Kessler Group this past week, the  chances of a special election for Governor being
held in 2011 looked bleak.  After all, Tomblin wants to serve as Acting Governor as long as possible to help people get used to him in that role.

But now with the Senate in the hands of one Governor wannabe, State Senator Jeff Kessler (D-Marshall) and the House under Speaker Rick Thompson (D-Wayne), who also
aspires to the Governor's Mansion, a 2011 special election looks more likely.  Treasurer John Perdue (D-Boone) and Secretary of State Natalie Tennant (D-Kanawha), apparently
dissatisfied with their current statewide positions, also appear to be in the Great Democratic Governor's Race and will help carve up their fellow Democrats nicely in their primary.

While the Democrats play their power games with one another, the Republicans have fielded a few gubernatorial aspirants of their own. One of them is two-term State Senator
Clark Barnes (R-Randolph) is a successful Elkins businessman and a fiscal watchdog in the State Senate.

Known for asking plenty of questions when it comes to excessive spending, Barnes wonders aloud about the unfunded federal mandates handed down from Washington, D.C.  "They give us $2 million, then tell us to come up with the additional $20 million to fund their latest project," Barnes told us recently. "Then there's the duplication.  Once you start digging into this, you find that we've got three different parts of the state bureaucracy all working on the same exact project, with loads of duplication."

The combination of Senator Barnes' first-hand knowledge of growing a successful small business, combined with his efforts in the State Senate to produce a more lean state
budget to stretch taxpayers' dollars, makes him a compelling candidate in the middle of a protracted recession.

Watch out for Barnes.  He may actually make you glad there's a special election for Governor coming sooner than later to West Virginia.