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Source: “very confident” Booth Goodwin will run for Governor

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Source: “very confident” Booth Goodwin will run for Governor
Hoppy's Commentary | Hoppy Kercheval, WV MetroNews

The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia, Booth Goodwin, will likely enter the race for the Democratic nomination for Governor in the coming weeks, creating a three-way contest in the Primary Election.

Chuck Smith, a Charleston CPA and former chairman of the state Democratic Party, is among those pushing Goodwin.  “I–along with a number of other people–am encouraging (him),” Smith told me this week.  “I feel very confident he’s going to run.”

Goodwin, 44, would enter a race where Greenbrier Resort owner Jim Justice and state Senate Minority Leader Jeff Kessler (D-Marshall) are the more established candidates. However, Smith claims Goodwin will fill a void.

“Booth is a breath of fresh air, spotless background… (he’s) smart and works hard,” Smith said.  “West Virginia needs a new type of leader and he’s shown in his job that he has what it takes to be a great leader.”

The Governor’s race has apparently been on Goodwin’s mind for months, but he’s refused to say anything publicly because the moment he announced he would have to leave the U.S. Attorney’s seat, a position he has held for the last five years.  Prior to that, Goodwin worked nine years as an assistant U.S. Attorney.

During his tenure Goodwin rooted out political corruption in southern West Virginia and pursued drug dealers.  However, his most significant case wrapped up just this month when a jury found former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship guilty of conspiracy to violate mine safety and health laws at the Upper Big Branch Mine, where 29 miners died in a 2010 explosion.

The jury cleared Blankenship of two other more serious charges, but Goodwin told reporters afterward that the verdict sent a clear and powerful message.  “It doesn’t matter how rich you are, or how powerful you are, if you gamble with the safety of the people who work for you, you will be held accountable.”

But the question for Goodwin is whether he can transition from a low-keyed, methodical prosecutor to an energized, viable and well-financed candidate in just a little over four months, especially given Justice’s wealth and a lot of ground to make up?

The Metronews West Virginia Poll released in September showed Justice with 40 percent, Kessler at 34 percent and 26 percent not sure.

Smith believes so.  “He knows what it takes to win this race, and I feel confident we can raise the money that he would need.”

The Goodwin family is as engrained politically as any in the state. Booth’s father, Joseph Robert (“Joe Bob” to friends), is a federal judge and former state Democratic Party chairman.   His mother, Kay Goodwin, is Cabinet Secretary of the Department of Education and the Arts.  Goodwin’s wife, Amy, is state Tourism Commissioner and a former press secretary to Governors Tomblin and Wise.  Booth’s cousin, Carte, briefly filled the U.S. Senate vacancy after the death of Senator Byrd.

However, the Goodwins have generally been reluctant to run for political office.  Booth Goodwin appears to be preparing to change that.