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Wise, area Dems use old-time rally to stoke voter interest

by Shawn Gainer

STAFF WRITER

Many of Harrison County's Democratic Party faithful came out to a Monday evening rally in Clarksburg to generate enthusiasm for Bob Wise's gubernatorial campaign.

"The first thing you always do is activate your base and get them energized and out to vote," Wise said before addressing attendees. "Harrison County is very, very important. I think Harrison County has an important future in West Virginia."

Wise said he knows the county is also considered important by his Republican opponent, incumbent Governor Cecil Underwood. He also took a jab at grants bestowed by Underwood in the campaign season.

"This is a significant county. I hear a lot of ribbons have been cut here lately," Wise said. "Much of that is because of money brought in by our Congressional delegation. If they've (the Underwood Administration) been able to do so much of it in the last four months, why haven't they been able to do it in the last four years?"

The rally attracted many local officials, including Harrison Delegates Barbara Warner, Sam Cann, Frank "Chunki" Angotti, Larry Linch, and candidate Ron Fragale. Also, Clarksburg Mayor David Kates, council members Terry Greaver, Becky Lake, Sam "Zeke" Lopez and Vice Mayor Kathryn Folio appeared. Senator Joe Minard, D-Harrison attended, as well as County Commissioner Tom Keeley, who is vice-chairman of Wise's campaign.

Libby Stout of the Harrison County Democratic Executive Committee said she was pleased with attendance.

"I don't know what the registration is, but the party faithful turned out in full force," Stout said.

The rally also attracted people who do not hold public office but whose life experiences, sometimes as union members, have given them a keen interest in politics.

"This one seemed a little more important than most events," said Guy Buffey, a retiree and a resident of Clarksburg. "I usually vote for whoever I think is best, Republican or Democrat. I think Wise has helped the state a lot."

Kenny Perdue, Sr., who has been named Harrison County's "Democrat of the Year" and is affiliated with the West Virginia AFL-CIO, said he has been active in politics since 1969. Perdue added that since 1978, he has cut tens of thousands of stakes and made more that 33,000 signs for candidates, free of charge.

"Everyone should take an interest in politics. My feeling is that small businesses and working people have to be supported," Perdue said. "It's very interesting to follow."

While Clarksburg seems to have a strong contingent of people interested in politics, Minard said he hopes voter turnout won't be hurt by the large number of uncontested local races this year.

"People care about local politics because it's so close to home," Minard said. "They bring out the excitement and there's none of that this year. I hope we can get some enthusiasm and get people out to vote."

Staff Writer Shawn Gainer can be reached at 626-1442 or by e-mail at sgainer@exponent-telegram.com.

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