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Mississippi's Gov. Barbour stumps for Bill Maloney

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Gov. Haley Barbour, who is finishing his second term as Mississippi's governor, is throwing his support behind businessman Bill Maloney, a Republican candidate for the West Virginia governorship.

Mike Stuart, chairman of the West Virginia Republican Party, said, "Haley Barbour is a tremendous leader and we are proud that he is coming to West Virginia today to support Bill Maloney for governor and the Republican Party."

Barbour was the main speaker Saturday at the West Virginia Republican Party's Lincoln/Reagan Gala at the Charleston Civic Center.

"I am here to help elect Bill Maloney in a state being hurt by the Obama administration policies, particularly by its energy policies," Barbour said during a brief interview while he walked between two private meetings before the dinner.

"We have a very high-quality candidate," Barbour said about Maloney, who faces state Senate President Earl Ray Tomlin in the Oct. 4 special election for governor. Tomblin has been acting as governor since Joe Manchin joined the U.S. Senate as the Mountain State's junior senator.

"This is the only elected office I have ever held," said Barbour, a lawyer who said he headed a 26-employee law firm before being elected in 2003.

Working in private business, Barbour said, is "better than being a public employee or a politician. You know you have to make a profit. Before you hire people, you know you have to pay them and give them benefits."

Since Barbour was available for less than five minutes, there was no chance to ask questions about the current Mississippi economy.

In a news release issued Saturday, Stuart said, "Barbour has done in Mississippi what we need to do in West Virginia.

"He is a transformational leader who has increased per capita income, enacted sweeping civil justice reforms, and strengthened Mississippi's reputation across the nation.  . . .

"Barbour knows we can follow his lead in transforming this great state if we choose the right leaders and make the right decisions."

U.S. Census Bureau statistics, however, show that the poverty rate in Mississippi rose from 15.6 percent in 2000 to 22.9 percent by 2009-1010. Today, Mississippi is the only state in the country with a poverty rate above 20 percent.

During the past decade, according to the Census Bureau, Mississippi's median income dropped by $6,142 -- from $42,963 in 2000 to $36,821 in 2010.

With the short interview awarded to the Gazette-Mail, there was no opportunity to ask Barbour about those statistics.

During the past 10 years, the proportion of Mississippi residents younger than 65 without health insurance rose from 16.5 percent to 22 percent.

In 2010, Mississippi ranked last in gross domestic product and personal income per capita.

"Governor Barbour strongly supports Bill Maloney because he understands the importance of electing a conservative, job-creator with real world experience," Stuart said in his news release.

"I am excited and delighted that Haley Barbour is bringing his remarkable record of achievement to West Virginia.  . . .

"The status quo and electing career politicians that support Obama's policies are not the solution for more jobs or a better economy."

Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjnyden@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5164.


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