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The Exponent Telegram: McKinley’s strengths give him edge over Gainer in 1st Congressional District race

— *** Newspaper Endorsement Week 2014 ***—

As the Nov. 4 general election approaches, much of the attention has been on the race for retiring Sen. Jay Rockefeller’s seat in the U.S. Senate. And there is no question that the Senate seat, a six-year term in the congressional chamber of 100 members, is important.

But there are other races on the ballot, including three seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

In the 1st Congressional District, David McKinley, a Republican from Wheeling, is looking to return for his third term and appears a heavy favorite.

Several national polls have indicated McKinley is favored over challenger Glen Gainer, the state’s current auditor, who hails from Parkersburg. Some have declared West Virginia’s 1st District a safe seat for the Republican Party.

But while McKinley brings a lot to the table in terms of his business acumen and engineering background, The Exponent Telegram has found that Gainer is a worthy opponent with a bright political future.

In separate meetings with the candidates, The Exponent Telegram asked each candidate seven questions on key issues, as well as the role that each candidate would play, if elected, in helping to solve those issues. We encourage readers to learn more on their views by reading Staff Writer Jim Davis’s stories, which begin on Page A1 of today’s edition.

In conducting the interviews, we were struck by the similarities between the two men’s views.

Both candidates agree on various key issues that will greatly affect West Virginia today and into the future.

They agree that the EPA’s additional regulations are hurting coal and subsequently the state’s economy. And they agree that a diversified energy policy would free the U.S. from dependence on other countries for our energy sources.

On business issues, the candidates agree that the corporate tax rate is too high and harms job creation. And they both think the country’s economy should be doing better going on six years after the Great Recession.

The two candidates differ in some regards on the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, although both agree some elements need to be revamped.

Gainer, who has served 22 years as auditor, is a polished candidate. And his knowledge of the issues and possible solutions is impressive. We find him to be a viable candidate, one who probably isn’t getting the respect and credit he deserves in national polls.

But we also have great respect for McKinley, who has done an admirable job for West Virginia in the House.

When longtime Rep. Alan Mollohan was defeated in the 2010 primary, and then McKinley won the 2010 general election, there was concern that the 1st District could suffer.

Mollohan had earned credit for helping the Interstate 79 Corridor become a leader in the state’s efforts to diversify the economy, with an influx of high-technology and aerospace jobs.

With Mollohan gone and the death of longtime U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd, the concern was that some of the lucrative government contracts, as well as federal agencies like the FBI, NASA and NOAA, could lessen or end their presence in the area.

While the power of one congressional member can be debated, McKinley has shown great ability to navigate the backwaters of the Beltway, staving off efforts to relocate some of the federal contracts and agencies, most recently those involving NASA at the High Tech Center in Fairmont.

McKinley also has shown great understanding and a reasoned approach to the state’s problems with the EPA. And his engineering background, as well as his success in the business world, make him a strong advocate for energy industries and small businesses — the backbone of the state’s economy.

He also has shown great understanding of a variety of issues that matter to West Virginians and demonstrated willingness in making government more efficient and accountable to the taxpayers.

With those strengths in mind, The Exponent Telegram endorses David McKinley, R-W.Va., in his efforts to return as the 1st Congressional District representative. He deserves another term and will fight for a better West Virginia.

But we also praise the efforts of Gainer, who has performed well in his 22 years of public service. We believe his service to West Virginia is far from over, and we would consider him a strong candidate for governor or a federal office in the future.

Follow The Exponent Telegram endorsements and news coverage at http://www.theet.com

Editor’s Note: During Newspaper Endorsement Week, Oct.13-19, the West Virginia Press Association works to publicize the political endorsements offered by its member newspapers. The WVPA hopes to give readers a view of endorsements from around West Virginia. To see all  of the Newspaper Endorsement Week articles, visit https://wvpress.wpengine.com/opinion/endorsementweek2014/

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