Feelings of deja vu will be rampant in West Virginia this year.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) – Republican Bill Maloney filed his papers Thursday to take a second shot at the governor’s mansion, setting up the second potential rematch in state politics this year.
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Maloney made his announcement Thursday morning at a restaurant in Morgantown, then traveled to Charleston to make it official at the Secretary of State’s office.
Should he win his party’s nomination, which polling analysts say he is heavily favored to do, he would face off against Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (D) for the second year in a row.
Tomblin won last year’s special election in October by about 2 percentage points. The race was to determine who would finish former Gov. Joe Manchin’s term after he won a special election of his own to finish the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd’s term.
Maloney faces one GOP opponent, WVU professor Ralph William Clark. Clark received 2 percent of the vote in last year’s GOP primary.
In addition to this potential gubernatorial rematch, Republican businessman John Raese has filed his papers to take on Sen. Joe Manchin for a full, six-year term once again.
Manchin faces a primary opponent, Sheirl Fletcher.
This year, Maloney and Tomblin are competing for a four-year term as governor, and Maloney thinks momentum is on his side this time.
Maloney says, "We didn't have enough time (last year). We ran out of time. And, this year we've got nine full months. Last year, we ended up with what, six?"
Last year, Maloney went from unknown to Republican front-runner fast.
By the end of the campaign, Public Policy Polling said if Maloney had another month, he potentially could have won the final vote against Tomblin.
But this time, some of his supporters wonder if Maloney is damaged goods.
"He's lost one time. It'll just be tough. I thought he had a really good chance before, but I don't know the second time around how he'll do," says Maloney supporter Jon Vineyard, of Scott Depot.
As for Tomblin, he says his message of more jobs and lower taxes resonated last year, and it will again.
The big question: will President Barack Obama, who polling shows is unpopular in West Virginia, hurt other Democrats?
“We're still trying to create more jobs in West Virginia. We've proven we can do that. We've also proven we can lower taxes," says Tomblin.
Allen Postalwait, an Elview resident who plan to vote this year, says Tomblin needs to demonstrate his own accomplishments beyond what had already been done when he began acting as governor.
“All the stuff he did last time, Joe (Manchin) already had in place. Now, he's got a year to put his own stuff in place and see how he does," says Postalwait.
On Thursday, Democrats and Republicans wasted no time bringing back some of last year's attacks, leaving some voters less than thrilled with this familiar face-off.
“Tomblin versus Maloney is a choice between the lesser of two evils," says Robin Welch, of Fayette County.
Mark Blankenship Enterprises, which did polling for Maloney last year, released a new poll late last year.
Blankenship found Tomblin still maintains support from a plurality of voters.
Blankenship found 46 percent of voters believe he deserves to be re-elected. However, 39 percent believe someone else should get the job, while 23 percent are undecided.