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Booth Goodwin throws hat into gubernatorial ring

By Staff | Jan 28, 2016

CHARLESTON – Fresh from winning a conviction for ex-Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship, former U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin announced Wednesday he would join the already contested Democratic field for West Virginia governor.

Goodwin started a four-month sprint to the election by touting his prosecutorial record. Federal law prohibited him from conducting campaign activity while he was a prosecutor.

“We need a leader who has made tough decisions, worked through complex problems and faced down the bad guys,” Goodwin said during his announcement outside the Kanawha County Courthouse in Charleston.

Goodwin resigned as prosecutor Dec. 28, less than a month after Blankenship’s high-profile federal trial. He opened a pre-candidacy campaign account Friday.

Blankenship was found guilty on Dec. 3 of conspiring to willfully violate mine safety rules at West Virginia’s Upper Big Branch mine, which exploded in 2010 and killed 29 men. He was acquitted of felonies that could have extended his sentence to 30 years.

Goodwin joins Jim Justice, a coal and agriculture billionaire businessman who owns The Greenbrier resort, and state Senate Minority Leader Jeff Kessler in the Democratic primary in May.

Goodwin delved into few policy specifics in his four-minute speech, and told reporters he’s “right down the middle” on the political spectrum. But he did take a slight jab at Justice.

“I’m not a millionaire. I’m certainly not a billionaire,” Goodwin said. “And I have no agenda, except to protect our fellow West Virginians.”

Justice’s campaign quickly targeted Goodwin. After releasing positive internal polling numbers Tuesday, Justice campaign spokesman Grant Herring said West Virginians aren’t looking for “professional politicians with lengthy careers in government.”

After making historic gains in the 2014 election, West Virginia Republicans largely have unified around state Senate President Bill Cole.

Goodwin was appointed as U.S. attorney by President Barack Obama in 2010. He had served in the federal prosecutor’s office since January 2001.

Goodwin’s office also drew convictions of former executives of Freedom Industries for a January 2014 chemical spill in Charleston that contaminated the drinking water of more than 300,000 people.

His office’s public corruption probe put multiple Mingo County officials in prison. Leading up to Blankenship’s trial, the five-year investigation into the Upper Big Branch blast netted convictions of four other Massey officials.

West Virginia’s influential Goodwin family has generally sought appointed positions, not elected ones.

Joseph Goodwin, his father, is a federal judge and former chair of the state Democratic Party.

Booth Goodwin’s wife Amy Shuler Goodwin is the state Tourism Commissioner and previously was Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s spokeswoman. His cousin Carte Goodwin was briefly appointed a U.S. senator after longtime Democratic Sen. Robert C. Byrd died in 2010.