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Casey For Congress

Charleston lawyer Nick Casey — a former state Democratic chairman and the elected treasurer of the American Bar Association — offers the best hope to give West Virginia respected stature in Congress.

We endorse him for the Democratic nomination for the Second District seat in Congress in the May 13 primary election, for which early voting starts April 30.

Casey rose from humble origins. His biography begins: “Born on the left-hand fork of Lens Creek near Marmet, he grew up in the shadow of the Libbey-Owens glass factory smokestacks, in a cinderblock duplex built by his dad and uncles.” His father was a schoolteacher and his Italian-born grandfather a marble-cutter for the State Capitol.

Casey earned an accounting degree at the University of Kentucky, then a law degree from West Virginia University. He married Mary Panzera, had two children, and became managing partner in Charleston’s Lewis, Glasser, Casey & Rollins law firm. He was president of the West Virginia Bar Association and was elected last year to help lead the national ABA.

In 2009, Sen. Jay Rockefeller and the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd urged President Obama to nominate Casey as a Northern District federal judge, saying he has “distinguished himself as an attorney, as well as a tireless advocate for many social and civic causes.” But the nomination went to Gina Groh of Martinsburg.

Casey’s record of volunteer work is awesome. He headed the board of directors for St. Francis and Thomas hospitals a dozen years, raising funds for a new wing. For 19 years, he has spent his summer vacation as team leader with Project Hope rebuilding homes in Clay County. He also volunteers for Habitat for Humanity, the Appalachian Service Project and other compassionate causes. He even dressed as Santa for holiday parties for needy children.

Politically, Casey is sensible and practical, focusing on commonsense cooperation to ease hateful partisan gridlock in Washington. He said he wants to “bring our brave troops home and build schools and roads in West Virginia counties, not in Iraq and Afghanistan.” He told Gazette editors he fears that the fading coal industry may leave parts of West Virginia in poverty of the sort that afflicted Pittsburgh after steel mills closed.

His rival in the May 13 primary, Delegate Meshea Poore, is a conscientious crusader for average families — but she’s little-known outside Charleston and has no political base for a widespread campaign. It’s a shame she didn’t continue her valuable role in the Legislature.

Casey has a large campaign fund and is working hard to gain the seat being vacated by Rep. Shelley Capito, R-W.Va. National political analyst Larry Sabato — who once delivered a W.E. “Ned” Chilton III Leadership Lecture in Charleston — calls the contest “one of the 35 hottest races in the country.” We hope Casey succeeds, and boosts West Virginia’s standing in Congress.

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