WHEELING, W.Va. — Although Wheeling attorney Ralph Baxter has yet to decide if he will run for the 1st Congressional District, he filed a statement of candidacy Thursday with Federal Elections Commission for the seat.

The form detailed Baxter would run as a Democrat and also mentioned a principal campaign committee capable of raising and spending funds during the 2018 midterm election cycle.

Baxter said in a phone call Thursday he has yet to make a final decision, and he is going through the steps necessary for if he decides to challenge Republican Rep. David McKinley next year.

Photo by Jason Doiy

Ralph Baxter

Baxter, the former CEO of the Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe law firm, was at the launching event of the West Virginia Working Families Party on Saturday at the state Culture Center. Baxter told MetroNews he feels the 1st District needs representation that is “positively contributing to common sense” in Congress.

“The vote David McKinley made on the American Health Care Act tells you all you need to know,” he said. “The consequence of that bill, had it gone into law, would have been to undermine our ability to deal with the opioid crisis. It would have undermined our ability in rural counties to have hospitals for the people, and it would have put hundreds of thousands of West Virginians out of the reach of health care.”

The state Working Families Party did not announce any endorsements at its Saturday event, and other political figures, including state Sen. Richard Ojeda, D-Logan, were also present.

McKinley, as well as fellow Republican Reps. Alex Mooney and Evan Jenkins, voted for the U.S. House of Representative’s bill to partially repeal and replace former President Barack Obama’s health care law.

According to the U.S. Congressional Budget Office, the bill would have left 23 million more Americans without health insurance compared to if “Obamacare” remained in place. It also estimates one-sixth of the population would have lived in areas where nongroup insurance markets would have been unstable.

The U.S. Senate rejected its “skinny repeal” of “Obamacare” on July 28.

McKinley announced on May 30 he is running for re-election. He currently serves as chairman of the Congressional Coal Caucus.

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