Goodwin files to enter governor's race
By Charleston Gazette-Mail staff, wire reports
Booth Goodwin, long rumored to be a candidate in the West Virginia governor’s race, has taken the next step toward making his bid official.
Goodwin, who stepped down as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia, effective Dec. 31, formed the Goodwin for West Virginia Committee on Jan. 1, according to the registration, which was filed with the Secretary of State’s Office Monday morning.
Under state election law, potential candidates must file as pre-candidates before they can begin raising campaign contributions.
Committee treasurer is Chris Morris, a vice president and lobbyist for Citynet, and a former state tax commissioner and deputy secretary of Revenue. In 2012, Morris ran as a Democrat for the House of Delegates, finishing 7th in the four-member 35th District.
The filing period for candidates in 2016 elections opens Monday and continues through Jan. 30.
Joining the race puts Goodwin into an already contested Democratic primary in May. Billionaire coal businessman and owner of The Greenbrier resort Jim Justice is already in the race, as is state Senate Minority Leader Jeff Kessler.
West Virginia Republicans largely have unified around state Senate President Bill Cole.
Under federal law, Goodwin had been unable to conduct any campaign activity while serving as a prosecutor, such as opening a fundraising account.
Goodwin comes from a storied Democratic family: His father is a federal judge and former state party chairman; his mother is a Cabinet secretary for Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin; his cousin is a former U.S. senator; and his wife is the state’s tourism commissioner and a former spokeswoman for Tomblin and former Gov. Bob Wise.
Goodwin announced his resignation as U.S. attorney less than a month after the federal trial of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship. Blankenship was found guilty on Dec. 3 of conspiring to willfully violate mine safety rules at Raleigh County’s Upper Big Branch Mine, which exploded in 2010 and killed 29 men.
Scott Crichlow, chairman of the political science department at West Virginia University, last month said the Blankenship conviction strengthens Goodwin’s position, should he run for governor, although it might not change that many minds either way.
“Many people who won’t back Goodwin and already seemed to side with Blankenship probably already viewed the prosecution, at least in part, politically motivated, given that it was an appointee of a Democratic administration prosecuting a major Republican donor,” Crichlow said. “Those happy about Blankenship’s conviction may be inclined to back a Goodwin bid.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Carol A. Casto has been named acting U.S. attorney for West Virginia’s Southern District, according to an announcement Monday.
Casto has served as an assistant U.S. attorney since 1989 in Charleston. Before that, she was an assistant prosecutor in Kanawha County for six years.