PARKERSBURG - A candidate for governor of West Virginia Monday said she wouldn't be running if U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito was.
Betty Ireland, a former secretary of state, said she spoke with Capito, R-2nd, and with John Raese, who lost the special election in November to the U.S. Senate to succeed Robert C. Byrd, and both said they weren't running for governor in 2012.
"She is the leader of the Republican Party in West Virginia," Ireland said of Capito.
A comment from Capito was not immediately available. Her spokesman Jamie Corley said the congresswoman had earlier said she wouldn't run for the U.S. Senate in the special election or any other office before 2012.
Capito was elected to her sixth term in the House of Representatives, of which the Republicans wrestled control of the lower chamber in the November elections.
Besides her appointment as chairman last month of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit, Capito is now No. 3 in terms of seniority in West Virginia's congressional delegation behind Sen. Jay Rockefeller and Rep. Nick Rahall, Ireland said.
"That is important to her," Ireland said.
Ireland is a keen candidate for the Republican because she ran statewide and won in 2004, said Rocky Peck, her campaign contact in Wood County
She was secretary of state from 2005-2009 and opted out of politics to take care of her elderly parents. She is vice president for business relationships at the Mid-Atlantic Technology, Research and Innovation Center in South Charleston.
The absence from politics hasn't hurt, she said. Ireland said she has a greater understanding of senior issues and her work with the innovation center has broadened her knowledge.
"It was the right decision to make," Ireland said.
The problem with the state is leadership, she said. West Virginia remains at the bottom in numerous issues and no progress is made, Ireland said.
"We need new leadership to get us out of the basement," Ireland said.
Ireland said she would run for the unexpired term for governor if an election to do so is held this year. Acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, who as state Senate president succeeded Joe Manchin, has said he won't call a special election until the statuatorily required special election in 2012.
The election issue is pending before the state Supreme Court. Tomblin also proposed the creation of a lieutenant governor to settle the succession question when there is a vacancy.
Ireland opposes the creation of the lieutenant. Eventually the office will require a staff and will become another government office, she said.
"We don't need to expand government," she said.
On other issues:
* The state budget may be $160 million ahead in revenue, but liabilities from future retirement and other post employment benefits are about $15 billion.
* She favors elimination of the food tax, but there needs to be a corresponding reduction in expenditures.
* The decision by the Environmental Protection Agency to retroactively veto a permit for the Spruce No. 1 Mine casts doubt upon companies wanting to do business in West Virginia "if you don't know what the rules are."