Former West Virginia congressman and Secretary of State Ken Hechler filed to run Wednesday in this November’s special election to fill the seat of the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D).
The 95-year-old Hechler will challenge Gov. Joe Manchin (D) in the August primary, but in an interview with Charleston Daily Mail said he doesn’t expect to win the race.
“I don’t want to make it a campaign against Gov. Manchin,” Hechler said in the interview. “I want to make it about mountaintop removal. A vote for me is not a vote for Ken Hechler — it’s tantamount to a vote against mountaintop removal.”
Hechler is apparently referring to the process of mountaintop mining, which he has been a longtime outspoken opponent of.
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Hechler said he has not talked to other Democrats about his Senate bid, but that he decided to do it not long after the state Legislature agreed to hold a primary next month.
He said he doesn’t expect his entry in the race will go over well with many in the party.
“I pretty well decided if I got any opposition I would stick to my guns,” he said. He didn’t reveal details about how he plans to raise funds for a campaign, other than to say he “has a little saved up.”
He’s more focused, he said, on using his campaign as a platform to discuss mountaintop mining in West Virginia.”I’m running for the environmentalists who are opposed to mountaintop removal,” he said. “It’s a way to put it on the ballot. I’m trying to give an opportunity for all those people in the state to show there is strength in our numbers.”