As West Virginia auditor, JB McCuskey leads an office that tracks government spending.
As the latest candidate to announce a run for governor, he’ll be the subject of campaign spending reports.
Such reports filed in the increasingly crowded governor’s race show a heavy emphasis on fundraising in the Republican field, more than a year away from the 2024 primary.
Chris Miller of Huntington, an owner and operator of the Dutch Miller auto dealership chain and son of U.S. Rep. Carol Miller, R-W.Va., had a campaign cash balance of $956,015 as of the end of last year, according to the campaign’s 2022 fourth-quarter finance report.
Miller’s campaign has been mostly self-funded, with Miller loaning it $900,000 in March 2022, according to campaign finance reports.
Most of the $138,818 the campaign reported spending last year went to consultant fees.
West Virginia House Delegate Moore Capito, R-Kanawha, son of U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., had less campaign cash on hand at the end of 2022 than Miller.
But since it launched in November, Capito’s campaign has needed little time to grow a formidable war chest powered largely by new contributions.
Capito’s campaign reported having $529,032 on hand at the end of 2022, netting $333,025 from new campaign contributions.
The Capito campaign reported receiving $199,638 in excess funds transferred from six other state candidate campaign committees – $179,938 from another of his own and the other $19,700 from committees for Sen. Ben Queen, R-Harrison, Delegate Vernon Criss, R-Wood, former delegate Larry Pack, R-Kanawha, who resigned to become senior advisor to Gov. Jim Justice, Sen. Eric Nelson, R-Kanawha, and Delegate Steve Westfall, R-Jackson.
Capito’s campaign reported spending just $3,631, largely consisting of a transaction fee paid to WinRed, a Republican Party fundraising platform.
West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner announced his candidacy for governor in January, after the most recent campaign finance reporting period.
Warner’s preexisting campaign committee reported an ending balance of $21,809 to close out 2022.
Capito, Miller and Warner were the only governor candidates in the state’s campaign finance reporting system — overseen by Warner’s office — to have fund balances over $1,000 as of the last reporting period. McCuskey, whose 2020 auditor campaign reported raising more than $175,000, is not yet in the system as a gubernatorial candidate, having announced his candidacy Tuesday.
Capito’s early support consists heavily of gas and oil industry support, in line with his service to natural gas industry clients as an attorney throughout his time in the House.
Capito worked for Greylock Energy, a Charleston-headquartered gas driller and producer, and its predecessor company, Energy Corporation of America, for more than eight years.
Capito left his position as corporate counsel at Greylock Energy in 2019 to join the Charleston office of energy law firm Babst Calland. Capito has represented energy clients in natural gas asset transactions.
Capito’s campaign reported receiving contributions totaling $2,500 from Greylock Energy president and CEO Kyle Mork, $5,600 from Babst Calland, $5,600 from Pittsburgh-based gas producer EQT Corp.’s political action committee, $5,600 from Diversified Gas and Oil Corp.’s political action committee and $5,600 from Rusty Hutson Jr., cofounder and CEO of Diversified Energy Company, the nation’s largest gas well owner.
Another $4,600 for Capito’s fledgling gubernatorial campaign came from Encova Civic Fund.
Miller’s campaign has drawn largely from his family, including mother Rep. Carol Miller ($5,600), and his fellow Dutch Miller and owners and operators, father Matt and brother Sam ($5,800 and $5,600, respectively), plus $1,500 from former state Commerce Secretary and 2020 gubernatorial candidate Woody Thrasher according to campaign finance reports.