July 13, 2011 | Meet the underdogs.
Bob Henry Baber is a fundraiser for Glenville State College. Harry Bertram is a railroad employee from Monongalia County. Marla Ingels is an elementary school counselor from Mason County.
All three would like to swap those jobs to become West Virginia’s next governor. They acknowledge their long shot status against better-financed candidates representing more established political parties. The Democratic nominee is acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin of Logan, and Morgantown businessman Bill Maloney is the Republican nominee.
The Oct. 4 special election will determine who will complete the term of Joe Manchin, who left the governor’s office in November 2010 for the U.S. Senate, replacing the late Robert C. Byrd.
Baber earned a place on the ballot when he was selected as the Mountain Party candidate. The party meets the criteria by having garnered more than 1 percent of the vote in the last election.
Bertram and Ingels took an alternate path, securing enough signatures on petitions to merit placement on the ballot and to forego the filing fee, according to Tim Leach, assistant legal counsel in the Secretary of State’s office.
In a regular election cycle the minimum requirement to be listed on the ballot would have been 7,000 signatures of registered voters. The figure is based on 1 percent of total votes cast for governor in the previous election. That total was reduced to 1,765 names, or one-fourth of 1 percent, due to the brief time frame involved with this special election.
Filing fees for state offices in West Virginia are based on 1 percent of the annual salary of the specific office. With the governor’s annual salary of $150,000, the filing fee would have been $1,500.
A self-described working class conservative, Bertram is running as a member of the American Third Position Party, or A3P. According to its website, the party “believes that government policy in the United States discriminates against whites, and that whites need their own political party to fight this discrimination.”
Bertram said he considers himself to be a nationalist as opposed to being a supremacist, which he described as someone who wants to dominate over somebody.
“A nationalist is someone who loves their race and is willing to do something to preserve it, to take care of their country first and their people,” he said. “I don’t believe in intervention around the world.”
The site documents Bertram’s previous attempts at public office. He ran for a seat in the Ohio General Assembly in 1984 and as a National States Rights Party nominee for a township office in Ohio in 1989. Moving to West Virginia, he attempted to run for the Legislature in 1994 as a nominee of the Populist Party, but he was unable to meet the petition requirement.
A year ago he entered the Monongalia County Board of Education race, placing last among three candidates with 14.1 percent of the vote.
“I was attacked by the local media,” Bertram said.
This campaign offers Bertram a public platform to promote his party’s agenda.
“I have some unique things to say in regards to West Virginia politics that the established candidates wouldn’t say,” he said, referring to issues such as affirmative action and companies hiring undocumented workers from other countries. He said he is for the right to keep and bear arms, private schools and better education.
“I hope to accomplish different things — obviously to win, and second to increase name recognition, education and for recruitment purposes for the party,” said Bertram, 51. “I look at my campaign as a common sense approach to better government.”
Bertram said he advocates lower taxes and less government regulation.
“We’ve got to make the state a friendly place to do business, or they’ll go to Virginia or somewhere else. We’re shipping jobs overseas. What we need to do is pressure our senators and congressmen to overturn this.”
Bertram said his campaign will spend less than $10,000.
“I want to get the word out and get a decent portion of the vote,” he said. “Win or lose, we’re still going to pass out literature on a regular basis.”
Reprinted from 12BOY West Virginia