PARKERSBURG - State Auditor Glen Gainer on Thursday said education, jobs and infrastructure will be his three main priorities if he is elected to Congress to represent West Virginia's 1st Congressional District.
The Democrat is running against incumbent Rep. David McKinley, R-Wheeling. The two will face off in November's general election.
Gainer, who has served as state auditor for 22 years, announced his candidacy late last year. He said he believes the areas of creating jobs, increasing educational opportunities and repairing the nation's crumbling infrastructure all tie together and are vital to helping the nation's economy.
STATE?AUDITOR?CANDIDATE — State Auditor Glen Gainer, Democrat candidate for West Virginia’s 1st Congressional District, said government officials should focus less on partisan politics and more on creating jobs, increasing educational opportunities and repairing the nation’s crumbling infrastructure. -- Amy Phelps
"We need all three to be successful," he said.
Gainer said he decided to run after becoming disillusioned with partisan deadlock in Washington.
"I really am truly disappointed with Congress," he said, accusing lawmakers of "a complete inability to get anything done."
Gainer said he believes he would be able to drum up bipartisan support to get meaningful legislation passed.
"It's what I've done my entire political career. I've done it for 22 years," he said, adding that as state auditor he has worked with both Democrat and Republican governors and legislators.
"I put getting the job done above politics," he said. "I think if you do that, it's very easy to reach across party lines."
McKinley's camp has said electing Gainer would be a step toward a Democrat-controlled House of Representatives, which could return Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., as speaker of the House and give President Barack Obama control over all aspects of government.
Gainer said Thursday he would not back Pelosi for speaker.
"Absolutely not," Gainer said. "She is a very polarizing individual and we have a lot of that in Washington now. We need new leadership on both sides of the aisle. (The leadership) is failing, not only Congress but also the people of America.
"My attitude has always been you don't reward people for failure."
Gainer also said he disagreed with the Obama Administration's new energy regulations and the Environmental Protection Agency's crackdown on carbon emissions, which he said have dire consequences for the coal and energy industries in West Virginia.
"I personally believe the president is ... wrong," Gainer said. "We need an energy policy that has coal as part of that plan."
Gainer agreed with critics who have deemed the EPA's crackdown on carbon emissions as an "overreach" by the agency. Gainer said West Virginia has suffered a "double hit" in the regulations as the state is both one of the largest coal producers in the nation and has one of the largest percentages of coal-fired power plants.
"The EPA is trying to pick winners and losers and that is wrong," he said.
Gainer brushed aside a recent move by the West Virginia GOP to call into question his record as state auditor. The group last week unveiled the one-page website TruthAboutGainer.com, which accused him of blindly supporting the president's Affordable Care Act legislation - calling that an ethics violation while state auditor, and of falling for an Internet scam.
Gainer said he has not bothered to look at the website.
"I'm not going to let trash distract me and keep me off message," he said.