W.Va.’s 2nd District U.S. House candidates face off

Charleston Gazette photo by Kenny Kemp Democrat Nick Casey (right) answers a question at Thursday’s forum for candidates for the 2nd District seat in the U.S. House, while Republican Alex Mooney (left) listens. Chris Hamilton, chairman of the West Virginia Business and Industry Council, stands between them.
Charleston Gazette photo by Kenny Kemp
Democrat Nick Casey (right) answers a question at Thursday’s forum for candidates for the 2nd District seat in the U.S. House, while Republican Alex Mooney (left) listens. Chris Hamilton, chairman of the West Virginia Business and Industry Council, stands between them.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — It wasn’t really a debate: The candidates had seen the questions ahead of time, and they didn’t take any other questions from the audience or each other.

But the two major-party candidates for the U.S. House seat in West Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District — Democrat Nick Casey and Republican Alex Mooney — stood up in front of the West Virginia Business and Industry Council Thursday morning at the Charleston Civic Center. The two outlined their positions on issues including taxes, the federal debt, environmental regulations, funds for highways and the Affordable Care Act

Along the way, Mooney tried to tie Casey to President Obama, who is unpopular in West Virginia, and Casey reminded the audience that Mooney has been in West Virginia for just more than a year, moving from Maryland after considering, and deciding against, a race for Congress there.

Casey said he does not support House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and believes Congress has become “ineffective.”

“Attempts to tie me to Obama are not going to work,” Casey said, adding that 34 percent of the money his campaign has raised came from Republicans.

Mooney said he is “proud to be a West Virginian by choice.”

Mike Clowser, executive director of the Contractors Association of West Virginia, asked the candidates if they would support an increase in highway user fees. Such fees help finance the Federal Highway Trust Fund, which is on the brink of insolvency. Congress is likely to soon pass a stopgap measure to keep highway funding alive, while discussing a long-term solution.

Casey said he would support such a move.

“It is outrageous that the Congress met and did not address this problem of providing money for the repair of roads and bridges across the country,” he said. “We have spent all this money in Iraq and Afghanistan and they are still throwing rocks at each other … . We don’t need to send this money out of the country.”

Mooney stressed his opposition to tax increases. “In my 12 years in the Maryland Legislature, I never voted to raise taxes…

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