DANIELS, WV (LOOTPRESS) – The Raleigh County Republican Executive Committee convened Tuesday at The Resort at Glade Springs to discuss regular business, and also to hear from special guest speaker, gubernatorial candidate, and WV Secretary of State Mac Warner.
Secretary Warner is the latest gubernatorial candidate to address the committee following Chris Miller’s appearance last year on Tuesday, November 23.
The Secretary of State’s appearance comes nearly a month to the day after his highly anticipated announcement of an impending run for West Virginia Governor.
LOOTPRESS caught up with Secretary Warner prior to his address Tuesday to discuss reception to his gubernatorial announcement, his trip to Meadow Bridge High to address students earlier in the day – more on that here – and his agenda of discussion topics for the evening.
“It’s been extremely well received throughout the state,” Secretary Warner told LOOTPRESS of the news of his run for Governor. “Fundraising is doing great. I’ve got the people who are volunteering coming in, helping out at the headquarters, and so that’s wind beneath the wings, if you will. It’s uplifting and I’m excited about the road.”
Secretary Warner also detailed intentions to discuss anticipatory plans for a term as governor, his leadership qualifications and military experience, as well as how best to address issues impacting the State of West Virginia.
“We’re talking [this evening] about what I’m trying to do as far as running for Governor,” Secretary Warner told LOOTPRESS. [Including] the vision that I have for the state, the conservative values that I represent, my military background and how that’s going to affect what I do in the governor’s office, and being able to run large organizations to do things to approach the issues the government of this state faces.”
Addressing the audience in attendance, Secretary Warner spoke of the conditions faced by many West Virginia residents as well as his military experience, the latter of which has been a key talking point of the gubernatorial candidate’s campaign thus far.
“We are experiencing too many hard working West Virginians being left behind, we have counties in West Virginia that are literally experiencing depression era type economics,” he said.
“I’m the only veteran in this race. I am battle tested.The way I see it, we’re in a battle for the heart and soul of West Virginia, and it takes a Conservative leader – you know the word conservative. You want to conserve those values that are good, not to change things because it sounds politically expedient or nice and spur of the moment.
I graduated from the number one school in leadership in the entire world, the United States Military Academy at West Point, he continued. “That’s all they teach is leadership from day one. After serving 23 years in the military, which included hotspots around the world: Panama, Haiti, Bosnia, Ukraine, Afghanistan, I’ve been to each one of those. I’ve seen broken societies. I’ve seen what works, and I know that doesn’t work.”
Secretary Warner requested a show of hands from those in attendance to indicate who had served in the military and those with family who had served.
“I understand what service means,” he declared. “I see it as my duty to carry out these lessons into state government here in West Virginia. These experiences taught me that leadership is earned from the ground up: It comes from experience. It’s not to be bought. It’s not something you just raise your hands like, ‘hey, give me a chance to learn on the job.’ That’s not where leadership comes from.”
Referencing his own family history in the state, Secretary Warner alluded to the origins of his well-known sobriquet.
“I am a 6th generation West Virginian going back to Revolutionary War times. John McCoy – my middle name is McCoy – that’s where I get the name ‘Mac’ from.”
Several attendees posed questions for the Secretary of State, including Jamie Buckland, Founder of West Virginia Families United for Education. Naturally, Buckland sought the potential-Governor’s thoughts on advancing the education system while tending to existing problems.
“‘I think we have some homegrown issues that need to be addressed, education being one of those, said Secretary Warner. “I’m always hearing about the jail system; the corrections system; I’m hearing about the EMS system needing assistance; So there are a lot of places where this money could be going before we start talking tax breaks,” he continued.
“I think we have the duty as the government to fix some of those things. First, in education, it’s one of those things that’s in the Constitution that we have an obligation to do. So it’s a matter of addressing the issues, listening to the teachers, and fixing it so that we can be competitive with other states.”
WV Delegate Eric Brooks, who along with Delegate Brandon Steele found time to attend the event even after having spent the day in Charleston for legislative sessions, took the opportunity to query the Secretary of State regarding the hot-button issues currently affecting prisons, jails, and the corrections system as a whole throughout West Virginia.
“Secretary, thank you for being here this evening, thanks for your service,” Delegate Brooks began. “We have a state of emergency in our jails and prisons. We have National Guard troops working inside of SRJ now and [in] all the facilities across the state. I just would just ask your thoughts on addressing that issue if you were Governor. We’re in the Legislature now working on this and trying to do some fixes and I’m just trying to get an idea of what you would propose or support if you were to lead our state as Governor.”
“First, our National Guard is a tremendous asset. They just do a fantastic job no matter what the issue is; with COVID; disaster relief; jails; regardless,” said Secretary Warner, acknowledging an understandable lack of expertise in the various areas in which the state is struggling, but assuring that he would have experts on hand for consultation.
“Our correction systems are kind of like the teachers’ pay – it is the obvious need that needs to be addressed. So my answer to your question is that I would like to bring the experts into the room with the decision makers. So that’s the house, it’s the Senate, it’s the responsible agency, and then listen to the experts. I don’t profess to know all the answers. I can’t be an expert in healthcare, education, corrections, insurance, all that sort of thing. What I will do is I will bring the experts in my approach. I talked about the number one school in the nation and the world, and they talked about team building. I want to get everybody pulling in the same direction [to] build those teams. But I don’t profess to know all the answers to all the state’s problems.”
The opioid crisis was another issue raised during Tuesday’s event, with Secretary Warner insisting that the epidemic must be combated head-on and expressing hope for the future.
“As long as we have this crisis, you’re not going to have to have a reliable workforce,” he said. “You’re going to continue to spend those resources into that arena and something has to be found. We’ve got to win this battle to turn it around, and we can.”
Lastly, infrastructure and energy were introduced to the fold by a civil engineer in attendance who brought up the multi-trillion-dollar state infrastructure investment through the Jobs Act.
“We need to take an all-energy approach,” Secretary Warner responded. “They’re above ground – All kinds of solar and wind and all that sort of thing, water there. We also need to be below the ground – oil, gas, et cetera. We need to support all these actions.”
Secretary Warner was also adamant that the market be the deciding factor in which energy sources get utilized as opposed to making decisions based upon factors outside of basic economic supply and demand.
“I support all the energy sources, but we should allow the market to decide when it’s appropriate. The government should not be picking the winners or losers, the market should be. We shouldn’t pick an arbitrary date to get rid of fossil fuels, it’s absurd. Fossil fuels are an essential part of basic energy, at least from my perspective. Of course, this is a legislative call for the most part.”
Following the official adjournment of Tuesday’s meeting of the Raleigh County Republican Executive Committee, those in attendance excused themselves to a banquet next door where guests were welcomed to continue making their voices heard.
Additional LOOTPRESS coverage for the Raleigh County area can be found here.