PARKERSBURG - The federal government shutdown was a worldwide embarrassment and Rep. David McKinley was part of it, West Virginia Auditor Glen Gainer Friday said as he thrust himself in the 2014 campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives.
The shutdown and Congress' inability to cooperate were major factors in the decision, said Gainer, a six-term auditor. The 16-day shutdown was the last straw, he said.
"The total dysfunction in Washington," Gainer said.
Gainer, a Democrat and Parkersburg native, was first elected auditor in 1992. He succeeded his father, Glen Gainer II, who retired as auditor in 1993.
Gainer also announced his candidacy for the Democratic Party nomination in events in Clarksburg and Wheeling. If he is the nominee, it could set up a general election campaign with the incumbent McKinley, the presumptive Republican nominee for the 1st District.
The government shutdown occurred in October in a standoff on raising the debt ceiling when Republicans attempted to undermine the Affordable Care Act by tying it to the budget issue. A compromise was reached and the debt issue was delayed for another three months.
"And resolved nothing except shutting government down," Gainer said.
McKinley shares the responsibility for that happening and the political gamesmanship and brinksmanship, Gainer said.
"In fact, he's part of the problem," Gainer said.
Gainer said he would oppose standards unfairly impacting the coal industry from the Environmental Protection Agency and would fix the problems in the Affordable Care Act rather than undercut a program upheld by the Supreme Court.
"We have seen the support for Glen Gainer, since it was rumored that he was considering a run for Congress, but it intensified after the Republican Party and Rep. McKinley shutdown the government," Larry Puccio, chairman of the state Democratic Party, said.
Gainer received a bachelor's from the University of Charleston in 1982. He and his wife, Susan, live in Parkersburg and have two sons, John and Joshua.
Mike Hamilton, McKinley's chief of staff, said McKinley is part of the Republican majority in the House preventing "President Obama controlling all aspects of government."
"Electing another Democrat whose first vote will be to return Nancy Pelosi as the speaker ensures that President Obama would control the House, the Senate and the White House," Hamilton said. "There would be no checks and balances on Obama's anti-West Virginia agenda."
McKinley has effectively worked across party lines, McKinley said.
Gainer's residency in Wood County was a prime reason the Democratic Party on all levels wanted him as a candidate, Greg Smith, chairman of the Wood County Republican Party, said. McKinley's performance in Wood County in 2010 won him the election, Smith said.
McKinley defeated Democrat Mike Oliverio in 2010 by around 730 votes across the district. He received 4,400 votes over Oliverio in Wood County.
Smith also pointed out Gainer remains auditor if he loses the election for the House. Gainer's decision to run for the House may have been different had this been 2016 when the term for auditor ends, Smith said.
West Virginia has been leaning more toward the Republican Party in the most recent elections and the Democrats have had problems finding strong candidates, Smith said.
"Quite frankly, I think Gainer drew the short straw," Smith said.
Conrad Lucas, chairman of the West Virginia Republican Party, called Gainer the "Obama Endorser" and connected him to former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California.
"We proudly stand with conservative, pro-coal Congressman David McKinley to represent folks in northern West Virginia," Lucas said. "If Democrat leaders like Nancy Pelosi think we need more liberals like Glen Gainer, West Virginia families have much to fear."