Sen. Clark Barnes, R-15th District, announced he will seek the Governor's Office in 2012, and would jump at the chance to vie for the position sooner if the opportunity becomes available, he said Monday.
Gov. Joe Manchin and Republican candidate John Raese are challenging for the U.S. Senate seat in the General Election on Nov. 2 that was vacated by Robert C. Byrd's death in June. If Manchin wins the election, Barnes said he believes Senate President Earl R. Tomblin would fulfill the governor's unexpired term. However if it is decided that a special election should be conducted for the governor's position, Barnes told The Inter-Mountain he would "get in the ring."
Manchin appointed his former counsel, Carte Goodwin, to the Senate position on July 16.
Barnes currently represents a nine county district and is the Senate's Minority Whip, having held the position since 2006. He serves on the Judiciary, Education, Natural Resources and Labor committees and is a member of the Regional Jail and Correctional Facility Authority.
Barnes says he is fully committed to West Virginia's future, its growth and development, and its rich cultural heritage.
"West Virginia has a great future," Barnes said. "Our present energy production combined with the prospect of newly discovered natural gas reserves, the work ethic of our people, and the potential for a changing political climate are among the many things which present West Virginians with the prospect of greater opportunity."
During his tenure in the Senate, Barnes has been involved with legislation to limit the government's power of eminent domain, remove sexual predators from our streets, strengthen laws regarding domestic violence, protect privacy rights, and guaranteed the right to protect self and family without fear of criminal or civil penalty. He was also instrumental in adding two new judges to his district and was a leader in tort reform which guaranteed the availability of insurance protection for West Virginians.
"A few years ago we had a legislature that stood up and created medical malpractice reform, then we came in six years ago and we reworked workers compensation, and then we did tort reform, and those are all significant pieces of legislation that really benefited the public and really benefited the community and I really feel they are strong elements in creating a positive business environment," Barnes said.
If elected Governor, Barnes said his top priority would be establishing better communication between the Governor's Office and the Senate and House leadership. He said very little has been accomplished over the past two years because of personal differences between the parties.
"I am very concerned about lack of communication that has developed in the past two or three years between the house leadership and the senate leaders, simple because the leaders of the two houses are at odds from a philosophical and political perspective," Barnes said.
"There has also been a lack of communication between the governor's office and legislative leadership as well. If we are going to move forward in this state, there has to be communication. Nothing is going to be accomplished unless the governor's office and the two houses work together on it. My No. 1 goal is to reestablish those lines of communication. We need to sit down and come to some agreement before we tackle the tough issues."
Barnes is in his second term in the State Senate having defeated former Transportation Chairman Mike Ross, D-15th District, in 2004 and again in 2008. He has also been involved with the development of community youth sports programs for more than 25 years.
"The greatest investment we can make as a family, a state and as a nation is in our children," Barnes said.
Barnes is a graduate of Paden City High School, Davis & Elkins College, West Virginia University and Pensacola Christian College. He is also a veteran of the United States Army. He and his wife, Debbie, reside near Beverly in Randolph County. Barnes serves as CEO of Barnes & Associates, Inc., a hearing healthcare firm, and President of General Lee Properties, Inc., a construction and development company. He is also President of the West Virginia Hearing Society, and Board Member of the National Board for Certification in Hearing Instrument Science.
Political consulting firm Dresner, Wickers & Associates is handling Barnes' campaign. The firm has handled such well know candidates as Governor Huckabee in his race for Governor of Arkansas, Governor Pete Wilson in California, Governor Mike Hayden in Kansas, and Robert Bentley, a candidate for Governor of Alabama. Bryan Sanders, the son-in-law of Governor Mike Huckabee, is Barnes' political consultant.
Barnes may be contacted at his Buckhannon office at 304-472-0464.
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