PARKERSBURG - Republican John Raese's wealth is becoming a focus in the campaign for the unexpired term for the U.S. Senate.
Raese, running against Democrat Gov. Joe Manchin, is a multimillionaire who runs the Morgantown-based and family-owned Greer Industries, which has holdings in natural resources, steel and media. Rasmussen Reports this week said the race is a toss up.
Last week, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee sent e-mails of a story about Raese's 7,000-square-foot home in Palm Beach County, Fla., where the marble driveway was repaved with pink stone. Raese later told Associated Press the color was peach, but not of his choosing.
"Raese leads a lavish lifestyle that's included over 15 cars, boats and motorcycles, a home in Florida where his family lives full-time and where, records show, he paved the driveway with marble in 2008 as the economy was nosediving," said the article in politico.com by Maggie Haberman.
Raese's wealth as an issue in the campaign is not a surprise, said Jim Dornan, Raese's campaign chief.
"We've expected it," Dornan said. "They pull out this garbage every single time John runs."
The issue is the policies of the Obama administration, Dornan said. The Raese campaign says he won't be a rubber stamp for Obama.
Kenny Perdue, president of the West Virginia-AFL-CIO, chimed in, too.
"The fact that his driveway is peach marble, and that he didn't pick it, is of great comfort to the unemployed in West Virginia," Perdue said. "Among the coal miners and working families of Appalachia there is great sympathy and understanding for multimillionaires who were steered in a wrong direction by their interior designers."
In a new Manchin ad, the advertisement shows Raese speaking at a function in St. Marys where he says "I made my money the old-fashioned way. I inherited it."
That was a joke, Dornan said.
"John has a sense of humor," he said.
The focus of the ads is to show where Manchin's priorities are compared to Raese's, said Lara Ramsburg, a Manchin campaign spokesman. The ad also shows Raese saying he is in the business of making money, not provide jobs.
"He puts profits before our people," Ramsburg said.
Also on the ballot for the Senate are Jesse Johnson of the Mountain Party and Jeff Becker of the Constitution Party.