There are several reasons for conservatives to support Republican Chris Wakim over Rep. Alan Mollohan (D.-W.Va.) aside from “the other thing.” That’s the euphemism Mollohan’s constituents increasingly use for the ongoing federal probe into what the Washington Post has described as the Democrat’s “blending his commercial investments with his duties as a congressional appropriator” and which has led the 24-year incumbent to admit he “misstated more than a dozen transactions on his financial disclosure forms” from 1999-2004. What Mollohan now tries to explain away as “a limited number of inadvertent errors” include: understating his income from a property-holding company in which he and his wife have a 50% stake, failure to report $2.3 million in loans he took out to benefit the business, a note receivable from the same business of between $1-5 million, his wife’s purchase for $37,461 of a one-third interest in a company that owns the Ramada Inn in Morgantown, W.Va., and understating the size of a $1.5 million construction loan.
But this “other thing” notwithstanding, Mollohan (lifetime American Conservative Union rating: 32%) has a record in Congress that can be interpreted only as that of an enabler in the increasing exodus of young workers and potential entrepreneurs from the Mountaineer State. Indeed, so great is the flood of potential talent from across the state, save Morgantown and Huntington (enclaves of Washington, D.C., commuters), that a popular joke goes “To find out what’s on the mind of West Virginia workers, go down to North Carolina and ask them!”
Mollohan says a dozen of his own properties are worth a total of $6.6 million, but many of his constituents are not so fortunate. Has he done all he can to improve the dismal economic picture in his home state? GOP opponent Chris Wakim says emphatically, “No!,” noting that the Democrat has consistently opposed the Bush tax cuts that are so important to businesses growth. And he opposed tort reform even though he comes from a state that employers call “tort hell” because of the many wild lawsuits filed against them there.
There are other issues on which Wakim—a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy and Harvard, a retired infantry captain, former two-term state legislator, former investment banker and small businessman—hammers Mollohan. The Democrat twice voted against the Protection of Marriage Amendment, opposed the Sensenbrenner bill for border security, and twice voted “no” on the Patriot Act. Wakim would have voted the opposite on each measure.
In a district in which GOP campaigns have been almost non-existent, the hard-charging Wakim has much impressed pundits and pols by raising more than $500,000 and signing on Will Holley, a highly regarded veteran of the White House Press Office, as campaign quarterback. With help from his fellow conservatives nationwide, he can finish the job.