CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Legal Newsline) - Former West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Elliott "Spike" Maynard announced Monday that he is running for Congress.
Maynard recently switched to the Republican party and is seeking that party's seat to challenge current U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, a Democrat who has served in the House for 33 years. Maynard said he is running to save jobs that depend on the coal industry.
"West Virginians deserve a congressman who will fight to end this war on coal instead of standing by idly as thousands of local jobs are threatened," Maynard said.
"If elected, I will stand up for coal, coal miners and the thousands of workers who depend on the industry to feed their families."
Rahall recently joined a caucus of coal-state lawmakers to oppose a climate change bill championed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
Maynard finished third in a three-candidate primary in 2008 when he ran for re-election. His friendship with coal giant Massey Energy's CEO, Don Blankenship, had been an issue before the election.
Harman Mining had been awarded a $50 million verdict against Massey, and Massey appealed. In 2007, Maynard was in the 3-2 majority that overturned it.
Photographs then surfaced of Blankenship and Maynard in Monaco. The two, lifelong friends from Mingo County, said they were coincidentally vacationing at the same place at the same time.
Before the 2008 primary, The Associated Press requested 13 e-mails sent from Maynard to Blankenship. Twelve of the 13 were simply links to news stories.
Maynard also served as a circuit court judge from 1981-1997.
On Talkline with Hoppy Kercheval Monday morning, Maynard was asked if he would accept campaign support from Blankenship. He responded that he would, as well as from any other coal interest.
He said Blankenship probably employs 5,000 West Virginians, and it would be silly to exclude them from the political process.
The West Virginia Chamber of Commerce recently said federal climate change legislation that will raise energy prices for coal-fired power plants and reviews of mining permits are part of a war on coal.
"I didn't leave the Democratic Party - the Democratic Party left me," Maynard said.
"We should be creating jobs, not killing them. We should be producing energy, not reducing energy."
Maynard also said he is against any cap-and-trade policies and for free enterprise, small government and reducing the national deficit.
From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at email@example.com.