GOP hopefuls address Republican Trump Dinner

Candidate for West Virginia Governor Mike Folk speaks at the Republican Trump Dinner on Tuesday evening in Parkersburg. (Photo by Madeline Scarborough)

PARKERSBURG — Two candidates running for West Virginia governor in 2020 spoke at the Republican Trump Dinner on Tuesday evening at the Dils Center.

Woody Thrasher, a former state commerce secretary, and Mike Folk, a former member of the House of Delegates representing Berkeley County, spoke at the dinner about the upcoming governor’s race.

Thrasher, a professional engineer who started a successful construction firm nearly 40 years ago, discussed how this background can help to improve the state.

“I took a company that began with only three workers, and grew it to around 700 people in a shrinking economy,” he said.

Thrasher said he felt West Virginia is not on the right path, pointing out that in the last year, the state lost 11,000 residents.

“There is a lack of leadership and opportunity to keep our younger generation in the state,” he said.

“The only reason we are in nearly last in almost all categories is bad decisions, such as not using what resources our state produces,” Thrasher said.

Thrasher said his number one goal is economic redevelopment.

Folk, an airline pilot by trade and former math teacher, focused his speech on education reformation.

“We need to get rid of common core,” he said.

Folk said he wants West Virginia to be a state that he can raise his family in, and his children can find work and remain here.

“Our kids are our future, and we need a good education system to support them,” he said.

Another topic of discussion was the protection of the people’s rights.

“The Republican Party defends our rights such as the Second Amendment and it defends life,” Folk said.

“With all of the elections that will be happening in 2020, we will be entering a war of ideas,” Republican national committee woman Kayla Kessinger said.

West Virginia’s First District Rep. David McKinley spoke at the dinner.

A focus point for McKinley was the unity of the party.

“We all need to work together,” he said.

The economy is doing well and President Trump through regulatory changes caused much of the economic boom, McKinley said.

“Our economy is booming, but our work force is still hurting,” he said.

McKinley talked about his reasons for disliking the “health care for all” plan.

“We had so many problems with Obamacare; what makes people think this will be any better,” he said.

McKinley said if the U.S. adopted universal health care, all private insurances would disappear and the government would control everything.

“The world is watching us, and we should be watching them,” he said. “All around the world they are turning away from socialistic views, but here is the Democratic Party supporting those same views.”

McKinley said, “We need to show that we can govern in a bi-partisan fashion and offer bold ideas. We have to stand as a unified front because the world is watching.”