Energy policy expert and public advocate Cathy Kunkel announced her candidacy for West Virginia’s second Congressional district. She will run as a Democrat and if she secures the nomination she will challenge Congress Alex Mooney (R-West Virginia) in November 2020.
In 2017, Kunkel wrote an op-ed article for the Charleston Gazette titled – Alex Mooney Doesn’t Need WV Voters and It Shows.
“The August recess is a time when members of Congress are supposed to come back to their districts for town halls, meetings with constituents and fundraisers,” Kunkel wrote. “Yet our congressman, Alex Mooney, has not announced any events in his home district for this month.”
“For those that follow politics, this is not exactly a surprise. Since his election in November 2014 — shortly after moving to the Eastern Panhandle from Maryland in order to run for office in West Virginia — Mooney has so rarely been seen in his district that his absence has become a running joke.”
“I am running because the second Congressional district deserves better,” said Kunkel, who released a platform emphasizing the need for economic transition and strengthening our rural economies in the face of climate change and the financial weakness of the coal and natural gas industries.
“We must end the decades-old pattern of out-of-state corporations coming to West Virginia to extract wealth from our state and exploit our people. We must build up local businesses that will reinvest in the local economy. We must bring in federal investment in the infrastructure needed to grow diverse sectors of our economy, including tourism, farming, forestry and manufacturing. We can build a strong economy that works for all West Virginians.”
Kunkel’s platform includes: federal infrastructure investment – including drinking water infrastructure, broadband, reclamation and transportation – policies to support working families and to protect pensions, strengthening public education and eliminating student debt, and healthcare for all.
Kunkel has testified in various cases before the West Virginia Public Service Commission, regarding electric utility rate increases and long-term energy planning. Among her other work, she has analyzed the economic, financial impact of natural gas drilling and pipelines in the region, researched absentee land ownership in West Virginia, and fought electric utility corporate bailouts. Her research has been cited by the Washington Post, NBC News, the Associated Press, The Hill, SNL Financial, The Intercept, and by members of Congress.
Kunkel also co-founded Rise Up WV, a Charleston-based organization that organizes for healthcare for all, quality public education, better services for those suffering from addiction, and more.
In 2018, Rise Up WV endorsed and helped to elect multiple first-time public officials for municipal and statehouse offices in Kanawha County.
Kunkel has signed the WV Can’t Wait candidate pledge launched by gubernatorial candidate Stephen Smith to not take corporate money.
Like Smith, Kunkel’s campaign emphasizes the need to build lasting political power, independent of either party apparatus, to affect real change.
“I can’t deliver on fundamental change for West Virginia as one person. Lasting change in this country has only ever come about through social movements, and we need all of us working together to turn things around in West Virginia,” she said.
“I’ve made a career out of standing up to powerful special interests and supporting social movements” said Kunkel. “This is what the campaign will be about – giving the second district a real advocate in the halls of power, and building a movement that brings people together to create lasting change in West Virginia.”