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Mollohan stumps for Wise

The Associated Press

Bob Wise is hoping during this final week of campaigning that Robert C. Byrd's and Alan Mollohan's coat tails are long and impressionable.

Mollohan has spent the past two days crossing the First Congressional District with Wise. The tag-team campaigning continued Thursday night in Fairmont. About 1,800 people showed up for a rally there, hosted by the Marion County Democratic Party.

Byrd, revered in state Democratic circles, stepped in Thursday -- as he did the day before in Weirton -- to offer the same analysis as Mollohan: the state needs Wise.

During a press conference Thursday at Harrison County's Benedum Airport, Byrd and Mollohan plugged Wise for governor, then added that Wise's successor as 2nd District Congressman should be Democrat Jim Humphreys.

Byrd has taped radio ads for Wise and Rockefeller has done a TV commercial for him.

For good measure, Wise also endorsed Humphreys, who made the trip to Harrison County for the event. Rockefeller has done direct-mail ads for Humphreys.

"I don't want to see this delegation split," said Byrd. "Trust me when I say we need Bob Wise as governor and we need Jim Humphreys in Congress."

Wise is trying to unseat incumbent GOP Gov. Cecil Underwood in a race polls indicate is too close to call. Humphreys is involved in a tight race with Delegate Shelley Moore Capito, R-Kanawha.

Although Harrison County is not part of the 2nd District, television stations in Clarksburg and Bridgeport serve parts of the district.

Mollohan and Wise had made earlier appearances Thursday at Preston County Memorial Hospital, in Kingwood, and at Monongalians Inc., a senior center in Morgantown.

At each location, Wise talked to small crowds about the need for affordable prescription drugs and a patient's bill of rights.

Wise and Mollohan also spent almost an hour on a statewide talk radio program.

Some who came to see the candidates Thursday indicated the strategy of joint campaigning is working.

"It shows that Bob Wise can work together with people he needs to work with. It shows he can get things done," said Carolyn Zinn of Morgantown.

Gene Warner, a Morgantown retiree, said, "I'm glad to see solidarity. That's important."

Mollohan said he believes he's a recognizable presence in the 1st District and that has "probably helped" Wise. But Mollohan and Wise say it's Byrd's endorsement that could pull in votes.

"The thing that pleases me is that Sen. Byrd is not one to endorse candidates just because they belong to his party. He wouldn't endorse a candidate he didn't believe in," Wise said.

U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., also has endorsed Wise.

"What we're seeing is a unified delegation," said Cathy Tinney, Monongalia County's Democratic Party chairwoman.

"We're used to seeing Congressman Mollohan here. We know him. His support of Congressman Wise means a lot. But to see them together is showing people that they know how to work together."

Meanwhile, Underwood campaign chairman Marc Harman complained Thursday that Wise has missed 90 percent -- 79 of 89 -- votes in Congress since Oct. 1 and 32.5 percent of the 591 votes since the beginning of the year.

"When Bob Wise decided to abandon his seniority in Congress for a failing run for governor, he also apparently abandoned his seat representing West Virginia," Harmon said in a press conference on the steps of the Robert C. Byrd United States Courthouse in Charleston.

"This is an abominable record," Harman said.

Wise spokesman Mike Plante said Wise has had one of the best attendance records in Congress in his 18 years there. He was absent about 5 percent of the time, the Charleston Daily Mail reported Thursday.

"It's hard to walk a balance in terms of duties in Washington and demands of the campaign," Plante said.

While Wise and Underwood have both used their offices to hand out grant checks at quasi-campaign events, Underwood has done it more often.

Some Democratic legislators have complained that Wise has not spent enough time campaigning in their districts, perhaps because of his duties in Washington.

"Bob's efforts on the campaign trail are a continuation of his efforts in Congress," Plante said.

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