The Times West Virginian

April 20, 2014

McKinley, Gainer are candidates for Congress

To go head-to-head in November election

By Misty Poe
Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT — Those who will represent their respective parties on the general election ballot for the 1st Congressional District have already been decided.

It is one of the few partisan races that will not need to be decided by the Tuesday, May 13 primary election as there are only one Republican and one Democrat vying for the seat.

Though incumbent U.S. Rep David McKinley, R-W.Va., and Democrat challenger and current State Auditor Glen Gainer will be on the party ballots, lack of other candidates means that McKinley and Gainer will automatically go head-to-head in the Nov. 5 general election.

McKinley was first elected in 2010 in an election that unseated a Democratic Mollohan for the first time in more than 40 years and as the GOP swept up a majority of seats across the nation in a conservative wave.

Though the Republicans have held the House for four years, there’s always a pressing concern that the leadership will change with this upcoming midterm election.

“The president has been very candid ... that he wants control of the House and the Senate his last two years,” McKinley told the Times West Virginian in January. “That’s what’s going to cause a lot of anxiety — one person saying they want control of everything in Washington. I hope the American public doesn’t want one party to have complete control.”

McKinley conceded that if one party had a majority in both the House and the Senate, bills would get passed and things would be done, “but I like checks and balances. I want someone to be able to say ‘no.’

“Right now, the House is the last bastion of checks into what is going on,” McKinley said. “You’re going to see a lot of money thrown into the House races to make sure that the House doesn’t lose its position.”

Although only into his second two-year term as the district’s congressman, McKinley has had a long history of public service to the state of West Virginia. A native of Wheeling, McKinley earned a civil engineering degree from Purdue University and later established McKinley and Associates, an architectural and engineering firm with offices in Wheeling, Charleston and Washington, Pa.

From 1981 to 1994, McKinley served in the House of Delegates for the 3rd District and in 1990 was elected chair of the West Virginia Republican Party Executive Committee and represented the state on the Republican National Committee in Washington, D.C.

McKinley is married to the former Mary Gerkin of New Martinsville, and the two have four children and six grandchildren.

During the past two terms, McKinley’s shown a great deal of passion for the state’s energy sector and a great deal of dissatisfaction over President Barack Obama’s administration’s apparent lack of support for the coal industry.

The country’s failure to have a national energy policy has been something the congressman has been working on this current term, as well as pushing back at Environmental Protection Agency policies that he believes hurt coal-generated energy production.

“If in America every coal-fired power house, every coal-fired boiler, all coal-fired generation in America were to stop, we would only impact the total CO2 emissions around the globe by two-tenths of 1 percent,” McKinley said last fall about the EPA’s rules to limit carbon dioxide emissions for new coal-fired power plants immediately and existing plants this June.

“We’re fighting against something, we’re putting our economy at risk, we’re spending hundreds of billions of dollars per year for two-tenths of 1 percent? I’m just not comfortable with what science is backing up the necessity of spending all of this money.”

Gainer, who announced his plans to run for the office in early November, is running on the platform of bringing fiscal sense back to Washington, D.C., and that his service as state auditor gives him the tools to do just that.

“Washington needs to balance the budget,” Gainer told the Times West Virginian at the time of his announcement. “It’s time we have people in Washington who understand how the budget works.

“We in West Virginia are hard working, and we play by the rules,” Gainer said. “We expect and use common sense in solving our problems. It seems that people go to Washington and forget who they represent and how to use common sense.”

Gainer, who was first elected to office in 1992, followed in his father’s footsteps not only to public office, but the seat of the state auditor. Gainer’s father, Glen B. Gainer Jr., served in that role from 1977 to 1993.

A Parkersburg native, Gainer earned a degree from the University of Charleston. Following graduation, Gainer worked for the state treasurer’s office, then with the state’s Department of Energy, and one year in the private sector before he was elected to his first term as auditor.

Gainer lives in Parkersburg with his wife, Susan Ryder. They have two sons.

Part of the reason Gainer decided to run for Congress was because of the partisan brick wall between a Republican House and a Democratic Senate, which he says has stalled progress and has hurt the economy. There is no better example of that than the government shutdown, which Gainer says was completely preventable and was just party antics out of control.

“If we keep electing the people who are in office today, particularly those who are part of the vocal obstructionists in Congress, then we are saying it’s all right, we want government to be dysfunctional, we don’t want to work and we don’t want common sense to prevail,” Gainer told the Times West Virginian in January. “We’re not going to continue to reward people for doing nothing. This current Congress is the most do-nothing Congress in the history of the nation at a time when we need true leadership, and we’re not getting it.”

Email Misty Poe or follow her on Twitter @MistyPoeTWV.