CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Bob Henry Baber, the Mountain Party’s candidate for U.S. Senate, says he’s running “to represent probably 20 percent of West Virginians who are not otherwise going to have a voice in the race.”
Baber touched on many issues during Monday’s appearance on MetroNews “Talkline.” His interview was part of a series featuring candidates leading up to the Nov. 4 general election.
Too much of this year’s Senate race, he said, is focused on coal.
“I do think it’s sort of degenerated into who loves coal the most and who dislikes (President Barack) Obama the most and that doesn’t really seem to be much of a platform to run on,” Baber said.
Environmentally, Baber said he supports transitioning—over time—from coal to alternative energy sources, primarily solar energy.
“We talk about clean coal but there’s nothing clean about it. I don’t think the EPA is really leading the parade, though, in the decline of coal, particularly here in Appalachia,” Baber said. “I think it’s natural gas, if you look at the course of history and you find that gas is gaining and coal is losing.”
Baber said mountaintop removal mining is also nearing its end. “It might end in five years, it might end in 25 years, but it’s going to end and who’s making a plan for that?” he said. “I never hear anybody talk about anything except protect, protect, protect those miners’ jobs.”
Baber said he considers himself a Federalist. “I believe that Social Security wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the federal government. Our immigration issues are going to have to be solved on a federal level. Health care is going to have to be solved on a federal level,” he explained.
“I work up here at Glenville State College. If it weren’t for federal Pell grants, Glenville State College would quickly find itself in financial troubles.” Baber is employed as a grant writer and developer at Glenville State.
He became the state Mountain Party’s first candidate to be elected to office when he won the Richwood mayor’s race in Nicholas County in 2004. He served until his resignation in 2007. There had been an effort underway to impeach him but, at the time, Baber said that attempt had nothing to do with his decision to leave office.
This is not Baber’s first run for U.S. Senate. He picked up more than 19,000 votes in the 2012 U.S. Senate race that included U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Republican John Raese. In 2011, Baber unsuccessfully ran for governor in the special gubernatorial election.
In addition to Baber, the other U.S. Senate candidates are Libertarian John Buckley, Republican 2nd District Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito and Democratic Secretary of State Natalie Tennant.