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Clinton campaign visits to West Virginia met with mixed reviews

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — As voters in Indiana prepared to go to the polls in Tuesday’s primary election, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a Democratic presidential candidate, was focused on Kentucky and West Virginia — states with primary elections later in May.

Bill Raney, president of the West Virginia Coal Association, said he was “disappointed” that Governor Earl Ray Tomblin had endorsed Clinton.

In the fight for coal, “Earl Ray’s been right with us and I don’t doubt that he’s continuing to be with us. I just worry about him lending his credibility and great name and track record to a candidacy that seems to be just a continuation of what the Obama Administration’s done,” Raney said.

During a Monday appearance on MetroNews “Talkline,” Raney went so far as to name another presidential candidate for Democrats to consider during the May 10 primary election, and it was not U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (D-Vermont), who has said, “We must make significant reductions in carbon emissions and break our dependence on fossil fuels.”

“If they’ve got to vote for a Democrat in the primary, then Paul Farrell is certainly a viable candidate,” Raney said of the Huntington attorney, 43, whose name is on the ballot.

“He knows West Virginia values. He knows what needs to happen here and he knows he isn’t going to win the national scene, but it would send an awfully good message, I think, for the people say, ‘Hey, we vote for Paul Farrell here on the first ballot at the convention.'”

In addition to Clinton, Sanders and Farrell, the other Democrats on West Virginia’s presidential ballot are Rocky De La Fuente, Keith Judd and Martin O’Malley.

The candidates on the Republican ballot are Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, David Hall, Mike Huckabee, John Kasich, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Donald Trump.

Clinton, the leading Democratic presidential candidate, was scheduled to make her way from Ashland, Kentucky to Williamson in Mingo County on Monday afternoon ahead of stops later in the day at the Williamson Health and Wellness Center and at an undisclosed location for a meeting with retired miners and community members.

On Sunday, former President Bill Clinton was in West Virginia for events in Logan, where he faced with protesters and a vocal crowd, and at the State Capitol in Charleston on his wife’s behalf.

George Carenbauer, a former Democratic Party chair and Clinton supporter, said he was happy to see both former President Bill Clinton and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in West Virginia.

“I think he and Secretary Clinton have a real sharing of identity with West Virginians. I think it comes from the fact that they both cut their political teeth in Arkansas, a state that’s very much like West Virginia, and Hillary Clinton has always been interested in doing what needs to be done for people who are hurting,” Carenbauer said.

“She’s (Secretary Clinton) not afraid. She’s more than happy to come into a place where, really, the politics of it don’t matter.”

Raney argued that, if the Clintons cared so much, there were plenty of other times both could have stood up for coal.

He asked, “Where have they been for the last eight years and why have they not tried to add some credibility and lend some concern as it regards the impact that this administration’s (the Obama Administration) had on Appalachia?”

The Clintons, Carenbauer said, could have easily skipped over southern West Virginia during the busy presidential primary season.

“The people in that part of the state particularly are really hurting, but Hillary Clinton is not afraid to come in and listen to people and to talk to people and to establish the dialogue and and I think that’s the really important thing,” Carenbauer said.

Clinton was reportedly planning campaign stops in West Virginia on Tuesday, though a schedule was not available as of Monday morning.

She won the 2008 Democratic presidential primary in the Mountain State with nearly 67 percent of the vote, ahead of President Barack Obama with 26 percent and former U.S. Senator John Edwards (D-North Carolina) with seven percent, according to numbers from the Secretary of State’s Office.

Historical data showed President Clinton won West Virginia in the 1992 general election by carrying 48 percent of the vote compared with 35 percent for George Bush and 16 percent for Ross Perot. He did even better in the 1996 general election with 52 percent of the vote to Bob Dole’s 37 percent and Ross Perot’s 11 percent.

Primary Election Day 2016 in West Virginia is May 10, one week from Tuesday. Early voting is an option through Saturday.

In Kentucky, voters go to the polls on Tuesday, May 17.

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