CHARLESTON — Five candidates are challenging incumbent Rep. Carol Miller in West Virginia’s 1st Congressional District, four in the Republican primary.
Those four, Scott Fuller, James Houser, Zane Lawhorn and Kent Stevens, are at the bottom of a steep financial hill below Miller, who has raised more that $676,000 in her re-election bid, according to filings with the Federal Elections Commission. Most of these donations are from corporations. Miller is vying for a third term in Congress. Her campaign did not respond to a request for an interview.
Lacy Watson, of Bluefield, is running unopposed in the Democratic primary.
The new 1st District is composed of central and southern West Virginia counties.
Fuller reported raising $29,151 and spending $21,789. He still has $13,525 cash on hand, thanks to a $25,000 self-donation. Lawhorn reported collecting nearly $15,500 and spending $14,266. Houser and Stevens have not submitted campaign finance forms.
Houser, of Mount Nebo, said he’s been hearing from voters about the Roe v. Wade draft opinion leak. The Supreme Court likely will end the landmark protection for women choosing to have an abortion, so state and federal lawmakers will likely be weighing bans in the coming years.
Houser said he would support a nationwide ban on abortions past 12 weeks in a pregnancy.
“After a certain time, it’s murder,” Houser said.
Houser said he supports ramping up production of mining natural resources as a way to curb inflationary costs. He said wealthy lawmakers don’t understand the burden of these high costs on the working class. With prolonged high gas and diesel fuel prices, nearly every good in the United States is unaffordable for Americans, he said.
“These truck drivers are having to pay $5-$6 a gallon for diesel fuel. That’s ridiculous. That’s unacceptable,” Houser said.
Miller is being targeted in the race over what her opponents describe as her consistent absence in the district. Houser, who said he served 25 years in the U.S. Army, called for a change.
“I’m not a career politician. I’m a normal person like everybody else,” he said.
Stevens, of Milton, also said he’s heard voters speak about Miller’s absence.
“The people in my district haven’t felt like they’ve gotten the proper representation from the representative they currently have. There’s no real face-to-face,” Stevens said. “People want to know that their congressperson is taking care of them, and I don’t think they feel like they’ve gotten that.”
Stevens said he’d be a better choice than Miller, whose family money and corporate-loaded war chest make for a stiff challenge for a political newcomer like him.
“I don’t have a giant ton of money to hide behind,” Stevens said. “I enjoy interacting with people. I enjoy taking calls.”
Stevens said Miller made the wrong decision to vote against the infrastructure bill that passed into law last year. He said the contents of the bill do not have the social spending provisions the original Build Back Better bill contained.
“I don’t think Carol Miller did the right thing,” Stevens said. “We’ve got bridges that are falling down. We have maintenance to do. We have roads to take care of.”
Stevens said he’s frustrated by the Biden administration’s energy policies. He said West Virginia’s metallurgic coal is in demand.
“I want the United States to be energy independent. The pipelines need to open back up,” he said.
Stevens said he’s anti-abortion at the first sign of a heartbeat.
Fuller, of Kenova, is retired both as a longtime member of the West Virginia Air National Guard and Huntington police detective. Fuller did not respond to requests for an interview. On a recent appearance on MetroNews’ “Talkline” radio program, Fuller said his years of experience helping flooding and disaster victims throughout southern West Virginia inspired him to run for office.
“I saw a spirit in West Virginia that I don’t think a lot of people get to see,” Fuller said. “I want to give that back.”
Fuller called for energy independence along with West Virginia ramping up gas, coal and oil production. Fuller said the U.S. should stop honoring international climate agreements over other countries breaking their promises.
“We’ve got to look at what the rest of the world is doing,” Fuller said. “By (following those agreements) we are killing ourselves economically.”
Fuller said he would have voted against the infrastructure bill.
Lawhorn, a Princeton optometrist who previously ran for Congress, said last week he was unavailable for an interview.
Speaking at a Chamber of Commerce event in Beckley, Lawhorn said the U.S. is too reliant on foreign manufacturing and the country’s military infrastructure doesn’t stand a chance against some foreign adversaries, according to a story in The Register-Herald.
“If we ever go to war with China and Russia, we’re not going to win,” he said.
Lawhorn credited Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., for his work in derailing some Biden initiatives. Lawhorn said he had “great admiration for what Manchin has done by stopping his own party from some of those destructive policies. We’ve got to have more of that in Congress.”
On his campaign website, Lawhorn said he holds God above all else.
“As a Christian, I will not support any bill that does not honor God’s law. The Bible is clear that those who follow God’s law will prosper and the nations that do not will suffer,” he said. “America suffers now because we don’t follow God’s law.”