Charleston Mayor Danny Jones is again at odds with his party after leading a group of Republicans supporting Democrat Nick Casey in the race to represent West Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District.
Jones, who attended Casey’s official campaign announcement in April 2013, said Thursday the decision was based on his familiarity with Casey and his dislike of Republican nominee Alex Mooney.
“Last year he lived in Maryland. He came here to run for Congress, and I’m not playing. I’m not into it,” Jones said.
“His reliance to get elected is totally on divisive social issues.”
Mooney, a former Maryland state senator and state GOP party chairman, handily defeated several opponents in the Republican primary in May. Casey defeated state Delegate Meshea Poore in the Democratic primary.
Jones said his decision might have been different if local attorney Charlotte Lane had won the GOP primary. Mooney’s victory made the decision much easier, Jones said.
“Obviously he doesn’t know West Virginia, he wouldn’t know what to say anyway because he wouldn’t know this state,” Jones said, likening Mooney’s move to dropping in from outer space.
In campaign ads and on his campaign website, Mooney has said he moved from Maryland to West Virginia to “live in freedom” and raise his children in a state with conservative values.
“Nick Casey is desperately trying to cover up his liberal record of campaigning for President Obama and supporting coal-killing regulations such as the Kyoto Protocol,” Mooney campaign spokesman Nick Clemens said in an emailed statement.
“Nick Casey has a history of supporting liberal policies that are out of touch with true West Virginia values. Alex Mooney is the only candidate in this race who will stand up to President Obama and the Obama policies that Nick Casey supports.”
Jones’ endorsement stoked the fires in his ongoing feud with his fellow Republicans.
“He’s so adverse to any of our policies and all of our platforms that I don’t know why he remains a Republican, quite honestly,” said Fred Joseph, chairman of the Kanawha County Republican Executive Committee.
“Maybe he should join the opposition party, maybe he’d be more welcome there.”
The Casey campaign announced Jones’ endorsement and affiliation with a group called “Republicans for Casey.”
Others in the group include Charleston City Council President Tom Lane; Marc Harman, the former campaign manager for Republican Gov. Cecil Underwood; Ben Bailey, former aide to Republican Gov. Arch Moore; and 16 more supporters, according to the news release.
“Since the primary, I’ve been humbled by the outpouring of support from respected Republicans from all around the second district who have offered to help my campaign in some way,” Casey said in the news release.
“And almost universally, I’ve heard that my opponent’s recent opportunistic move to West Virginia just so he could run for office, combined with his vicious Washington-style political attacks against fellow Republicans in the primary, is not what anyone of any party is looking for in their next Congressman.”
Jones said the list was an impressive assortment of influential people. Joseph said no one on the list surprised him, describing them as establishment GOP officials who don’t want to listen to the voice of the people.
“Their endorsement means nothing to the average citizen,” Joseph said.
Jones and Republican officials have clashed over several policy initiatives in the past.
State and local Republicans blasted Jones’ attempts to derail state legislation that eventually forced Charleston to repeal its local gun ordinances. Joseph said tax increases from Jones and other policies are a “disgusting” deviation from Republican platforms.
In that context, Joseph said Jones’ endorsement could help Mooney.
“I think it’s a very big plus for Alex Mooney to have Danny Jones endorse Nick Casey, because quite frankly, Danny Jones’ political capital in the Kanawha Valley is practically zero.”
State and local Republican organizations don’t seem to have a problem cashing Jones’ donations, Jones said.
The election is Nov. 4.
Contact writer Dave Boucher at 304-348-4843 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at www.Twitter.com/Dave_Boucher1.