UPDATE: 1/26/12 @ 10:30 p.m.
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.
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.
The Republican who narrowly lost to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin in last year's special election announced Thursday in Morgantown that he's going to run again.
Maloney also plans an afternoon appearance outside the Secretary of State's Office in Charleston, where he will formally file the paperwork.
Tomblin is currently finishing the term left by fellow Democrat and U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin.
According to the Secretary of State's website, Republican Ralph William Clark, of Morgantown, has also filed to run for governor.
This election is for a full, four-year term.
Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the very latest information.
“Bill Maloney’s decision gives Republicans an excellent opportunity to win the governor’s office this year. The more West Virginians got to know Bill last year, the more they liked his plans to revitalize West Virginia.
For Earl Ray Tomblin, the opposite is true. The more voters learned about his self-enriching, forty-year political career, the less they liked him. This year is the voters’ best chance to finally end the status quo, insider way of doing politics in West Virginia.
The RGA welcomes Bill Maloney to the governor’s race.”
Governor Earl Ray Tomblin won this year's special election with 50 percent of the vote. Maloney came in close claiming 47 percent.
Maloney filed his pre-candidacy papers early Monday morning at the Secretary of State's Office in Charleston.
Maloney is a business man from Morgantown, W.Va.
The special election was called after a lengthy process when West Virginia’s longest serving senator, Robert C. Byrd, died June 28, 2010.
At that time, Joe Manchin was West Virginia’s Governor. Last November, Manchin was elected and sworn in to the United States Senate to fill Byrd's seat.
Tomblin was serving as state senate president when Manchin moved to Washington D.C., which meant he was named acting governor of the state.
A special election was held in October, and Tomblin beat Maloney by 7,000 votes.
Governor Tomblin has already filed to run for re-election next year. According to the Secretary of State's website, more than a dozen candidates have also filed pre-candidacy papers to run for governor.
The official filing period begins in January.
Statement from Republican Bill Maloney
“I filed paperwork with the Secretary of State's office today, forming an exploratory committee for the 2012 gubernatorial election. During the last few weeks, I have spoken to many West Virginians who remain concerned about our state’s future. They have encouraged me to run for governor in 2012. I am grateful for their continued support. In the coming weeks, I will make an announcement regarding my future plans.”,/i>
Statement from WV Democratic Party Chair on Bill Maloney’s Pre-candidacy Filing Today
“West Virginia voters rejected Bill Maloney two months ago despite his spending millions of the dollars he made letting our jobs go to Pennsylvania. Maloney wasn't able to hide his risky ideas from the voters and he will once again learn next year that West Virginia is not for sale.
Voters appreciate Earl Ray Tomblin's track record of responsibly lowering taxes and fostering an environment where businesses want to create jobs.”