So just who is John Raese, the Republican businessman who could potentially be West Virginia's next Senator, if he wins the special election for the seat formerly held for over 50 years by the late Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd? He's a man who has been longtime political fixture in the state, but never actually winning anything -- except perhaps until now.
Read More →
Raese comes from a family with a large presence in West Virginia business. He is president and CEO of Greer Industries, a major mining company, and also president of the West Virginia Radio Corporation, which owns more than 25 radio stations. He has run for office three times before, each time unsuccessfully.
He first ran for Senate way back in 1984, losing by a narrow 52%-48% against Democrat Jay Rockefeller in an open-seat race, which was held in the middle of the 1984 Reagan landslide. He later ran for governor in 1988, challenging the scandal-plagued Republican incumbent Arch Moore in the GOP primary, losing by 53%-47%. He ran for Senate again in 2006, challenging Byrd -- and spent $2.2 million of his own money -- ultimately losing by a very wide margin of 64%-36%.
With a Stassenesque electoral record like that, one would think of Raese as a sacrificial lamb on his way to yet another defeat. But maybe not this year -- as of right now, he's ahead, with a current lead of 49.4%-43.4% in the TPM Poll Average against Democratic Gov. Joe Manchin. And this is despite the fact that Manchin remains an overwhelmingly popular figure as governor.
"I've been a conservative in West Virginia before that was popular," Raese told CNN. "I've seen a change in West Virginia. Not a change in John Raese, but a change in West Virginia and a change in America.