Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Editorials

October 28, 2012

Endorsement: 3rd Congressional District Republican Rick Snuffer

Voters face a critical decision Nov. 6 in the race for West Virginia’s 3rd Congressional District. Veteran Democrat Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., who has held the 3rd District seat now for 36 years, is being challenged by Republican Rick Snuffer of Beckley. Both men recently met with members of the Daily Telegraph’s editorial board where they addressed issues ranging from the bipartisan gridlock in Washington to critical infrastructure needs in southern West Virginia.

After careful consideration and debate, we endorse Snuffer for election to the U.S. House of Representatives. We believe this race represents a critical turning point for southern West Virginia. Rahall has served his district well over the past three decades. However, he has been unable in recent years to help secure critical federal funding for vital projects in our region — largely in part due to the new Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives. And this majority will remain intact after Nov. 6. That puts Snuffer in a unique position to help get critical projects in our region moving again.

We have a bridge to nowhere in Bluefield and construction on the King Coal Highway in Mercer County has been stalled since 2007 due to a lack of federal funds. The Colonial Intermodal Center project in Bluefield also remains in limbo due to a lack of federal funds. The same can be said for the Coalfields Expressway in McDowell and Wyoming counties and the Shawnee Parkway in Mercer and Raleigh counties. And we still can’t get a critically needed veterans outpatient clinic for Mercer County despite Rahall’s 36 years of seniority in the House. Also troubling is Rahall’s continued and stubborn support for President Barack Obama — despite the administration’s deplorable war on coal.

During the editorial board meeting, Rahall said he would support Obama when the president makes decisions that are right for southern West Virginia. However, we can’t think of too many positive things Obama has done for the coalfields of southern West Virginia during his first four years in office.

Snuffer, a former resident of McDowell County and graduate of Bluefield State College, is impressive. He is vowing to fight for infrastructure needs, including the King Coal Highway and the Coalfields Expressway, in the GOP-controlled House. He believes his fellow Republicans will support him. He points to the ability of U.S. Rep. Shelly Moore Capito, R-W.Va., to secure $60 million in federal funds for Corridor H.

Snuffer is promising to work with Democrats and Republicans alike to help break the bipartisan gridlock in Washington. He says he won’t sign the controversial Groven Norquist pledge, but also is promising not to raise taxes. He says he will fight to secure additional funds for the Colonial Intermodal Center project if the city and its citizens want to see it developed. Snuffer is also promising to support a long-term, six-year highway bill that will help to jump start projects like the King Coal Highway and the Coalfields Expressway.

He is vowing to repeal the new health care law, and replace it with more sensible legislation. Snuffer is quick to admit the reason Mercer County doesn’t have an outpatient veterans clinic is due to a “turf battle” with the Beckley VA Hospital — and he is promising to help break the stalemate to ensure an outpatient or satellite clinic is developed in Mercer County. And last, but certainly not least, Snuffer is promising to be at the forefront of the war on coal. He is vowing to fight President Barack Obama, and to help reign in the EPA. He correctly argues that the coalfields of southern West Virginia and Southwest Virginia may not be able to survive another four years of Barack Obama.

Everything Snuffer says makes a lot of sense. Why not elect a lawmaker who will be in the majority — as opposed to the minority — in the House? Why not elect a lawmaker who doesn’t send mixed signals when it comes to supporting a president who is waging a senseless war on coal and other fossil fuels? Why not elect a lawmaker who will stand up for what is right, and challenge that which is wrong?

After 36 years, we believe the hour for change has arrived in West Virginia’s 3rd Congressional District. We are under attack in southern West Virginia. And we are falling behind in the 3rd Congressional District. We need aggressive — but common-sense leadership — in Washington. That man who will bring that is Rick Snuffer.

When voters head to the polls on Nov. 6, we urge them to cast a ballot for Rick Snuffer in West Virginia’s 3rd Congressional District. We believe he is a candidate that can bring positive change to the region.

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