Whoever said money buys elections has never been “out Wayne.”
The Republican candidate who ousted the longest-serving Senate majority leader and the longest continuously serving state senator didn’t accept a single campaign contribution and spent no money on the 2014 election cycle, state records indicate.
But that didn’t stop Mark Rusell Maynard, 42, of Wayne.
Maynard said in the weeks before Election Day, he tried to get money but didn’t have any luck.
“I thought if I could have a media blitz the last week, it could put me over the top,” he said standing inside his business, Maynard’s Auto World, which is located across the street from his parents’ home on W.Va. 152. “But I couldn’t get any funds from the state party or anyone that I approached.”
His opponent, 32-year incumbent Sen. Truman Chafin, D-Mingo, amassed $14,850 in contributions and spent $12,552.
Maynard said the only real assistance he received was a $350 in-kind contribution of yard signs and a display of his name on a car during a national television broadcast of a drag racing event in Las Vegas.
A member of the drag racing team, Maynard thinks the press could have been just enough to push him past Chafin. Only 389 votes separated the two men — the closest of any state Senate election. The result was one of the biggest surprises in the state’s midterm election.
The district will now go from being represented by a trial lawyer to a man who makes a living towing cars, selling state inspection stickers and selling new and used auto parts.
“In a rural area, I have to do a little bit of everything to make it work,” Maynard said. He said Chafin has been good for the district from an upper-class trial lawyer’s point of view. “Now maybe I can bring some down-home ideas.”
Those include lessening regulations on small businesses and the continual development of the King Coal Highway.
As election night unfolded, Maynard says he wasn’t sure which way things would end up. “I went in knowing there was a chance I could win and I was pleasantly surprised,” he said.
Maynard admits that he likely didn’t get any contributions because he was often viewed as a long shot. “Anyone donating to it probably would’ve thought it was for nothing,” he said.
But now that he’s been elected, Maynard said he would do his best to represent all interests in the district. “There’s not going to be any political boundaries for me.”
Maynard is hardly new to the political scene. He has served as chairman of the Wayne County Republican Executive Committee and has been a ballot commissioner for Wayne County. He also unsuccessfully ran for the same seat in 2008, which he now says helped provide him name recognition. Maynard says that might have helped land him a few extra votes this time in addition to getting some votes from some Democrats.
When asked whether the district’s voters were reacting to the discovery of widespread corruption in Mingo County last year, Maynard said he didn’t think that was the case.
“On the campaign trail in Mingo County, nothing was said about corruption,” he said. Maynard believes there were a number of factors working in his favor, including President Barack Obama’s declining approval ratings and his perceived “war on coal” and the strength of fellow Republican candidates running for office.
“Shelley Moore Capito and Evan Jenkins ran really strong and I kind of rode on their coat tails,” he said.
Maynard said Chafin ran a respectable campaign although he said his opponent might have underestimated him.
“I didn’t make a big splash early on or a big splash any time. I just tried to run it myself,” he said. While campaigning, Maynard drove around in a yellow 1998 Ford Mustang Cobra — although he considered using his custom-built General Lee Dodge Charger.
“I’m not the type that wants to blend in at the mall parking lot,” he said. “I want to be practical and yet make a statement too. That’s the kind of people that’s in my district.”
While serving in the legislature, Maynard said his parents, Richard Dale and Jewell Gay, would help keep his business going. He also plans to continue to be involved in drag racing events.
“I look forward to serving the community and I want to be there to listen to their concerns,” he said.
Chafin declined an interview request and directed the Daily Mail to his post-election press release.