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Farrell’s in presidential race to give W.Va. a voice

Paul Farrell
Local attorney Paul Farrell Jr., who is on the ballot in West Virginia for president of the United States, speaks during an editorial board meeting on Wednesday, April 27, 2016, at The Herald-Dispatch in Huntington. Lori Wolfe/The Herald-Dispatch

The Herald-Dispatch

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — In 2012, a convicted felon in Texas, going up against President Barack Obama in the Democratic presidential primary in West Virginia, received more than 70,000 votes.
That got Paul Farrell Jr. thinking about the nature of a protest vote and how it should count for something.
The Huntington attorney has filed to run for president of the United States, and will appear on the ballot in West Virginia on May 10.

“The purpose of me putting my name on the ballot is for one thing and one thing only: In Cabell County, I am first on the ballot and after my name it will say West Virginia, and the people here in Cabell County are going to look at the ballot and know that instead of having a choice between Hillary (Clinton) or somebody to her far left, they will be able to choose someone who is at least standing up and fighting for West Virginians,” Farrell said during a meeting with The Herald-Dispatch Editorial Board this week.
His plan is to try to win at least a few delegates and hold them as bargaining chips to try to ensure that West Virginia has the ear of the Democratic nominee, which looks likely to be Clinton.
Farrell said both Clinton and Bernie Sanders are running on platforms that will hurt states like West Virginia that lean on the fossil fuel industry.
He pitched a scenario in which someone like Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., could help Farrell win some delegates and then parlay a deal with the nominee. Farrell has made the pitch to Manchin himself.
“I called Manchin and said, ‘Endorse me and then if I get enough votes, I will pledge (the delegates) to West Virginia and you can tell me when to release them,'” Farrell said. “And we can walk into the national convention and (Manchin) can say to Hillary, ‘Look, this Farrell kid, he’s got the delegates and we’re not going to pledge them to you until you promise that in the first 100 days to put the three bills that he’s pushing for to help coal mines and miners.'”
Farrell, a partner at the Huntington law firm Greene, Ketchum, Farrell, Bailey & Tweel, said one of his main frustrations is how the current president and presidential candidates have failed the coal industry.
Clinton was an ally of the coal industry when campaigning for the Democratic presidential nod in 2008, Farrell pointed out, but has had to take a more liberal stance on energy in 2016 to appeal to a party base that he says continues to move away from the center.
“The Democratic Party is fractured,” he said. “It is endorsing the national platform which continues to move to the left, leaving behind the moderate voice which we find throughout West Virginia, Cabell County and Huntington.”
He said the Obama administration has continued a longstanding “war on coal” by implementing his Clean Power Plan without also having a plan to rebuild the West Virginia economy. As a result, he said the southern part of West Virginia has really suffered, resulting in the closure of dozens of coal-fired power plants and thousands of coal miners losing their jobs.

Farrell said the current presidential candidates are no better.
“Hillary and Bernie are both campaigning on the fact that they are shutting down our coal mines,” he said. “With that being said, I don’t see how they can ask us to vote for them.”
He said the people of West Virginia have gained a general distrust for the Democratic Party over the years. In the last 20 years, West Virginia has not voted for a Democratic presidential candidate in the general election. He added that dissatisfaction for the Democratic Party has spread into politics at the state and federal level.
While Farrell realizes what he’s doing is a long shot, he is optimistic that the people of West Virginia will understand his message and back his candidacy.
“The message I am sending is not mine,” he said. “I am not leading a movement. All I’m doing is giving a voice to tens of thousands of West Virginians that are frustrated that we’re being ignored.”
By the time West Virginia holds its primary, Farrell said the Democratic nominee will likely already be chosen. But he said that gives West Virginians even more of a reason to do something out of the ordinary by voting for him and having their voice heard.

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