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January 26, 2006
The Return Of Raese

John Raese officially announced his return to electoral politics tonight, almost twenty years after his last effort to unseat a corrupt GOP governor in a primary, to take on Robert Byrd's re-election campaign for the Senate:

A multimillionaire businessman entered the GOP race to challenge Sen. Robert C. Byrd on Wednesday, hoping to deny the 88-year-old incumbent Democrat a record ninth term.

John Raese, 55, said he would campaign on a platform touting free enterprise and reduced regulation, among other issues. "What I'm going to run on is a rebirth of capitalism," he said.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee heralded the filing by Raese, a former state GOP chairman who has sought office before.

Raese, in fact, sought office in 1984 by squaring off against Byrd's colleague Jay Rockefeller for what was then an open Senate seat. Rockefeller outspent Raese 6-1 and wound up winning by a whisker over the young Reaganite. Raese then became state GOP chairman and a favorite of the Reagan administration. He allegedly found out about a criminal investigation involving then-Governor Arch Moore in 1986 from sources within the Reagan DoJ and decided to run against Moore in an attempt to keep the office in the GOP and to limit the damage to the state party. He narrowly lost to Moore in 1988, who won the primary but lost the general election -- and then found himself under indictment. He wound up doing a stretch in Club Fed, while Raese returned to the private sector.

Now, with Shelley Moore Capito (Arch Moore's daughter) out of the Senate race, Raese has apparently decided to come back for one more attempt at politics. His Reagan-brand Republicanism has a much broader appeal in West Virginia than it did twenty years ago, and he still has a coterie of fans who want to see him win office. He will have to make the GOP choose between his renewed interest and the candidacy of current GOP activist Hiram Lewis. Lewis has already attracted support for his status as a Iraq Wae veteran. The two GOP candidates will need to make some arrangement to avoid damaging each other in the primaries if either one of them wants to beat Robert Byrd in the general election. He may appear vulnerable with the renewed strength of the Republicans, but sentiment will be strong to give him a final tour of the Senate and the record for longest tenure.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at January 26, 2006 5:46 AM

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