Mac Warner for Governor
January 10, 2023
Good afternoon. I am humbled and honored by the presence of every one of you here today. I will never forget you, or the effort you made to get here and stand in the cold to witness this moment in West Virginia history.
You might ask, “Why would I run for office in West Virginia?”
Well, take a moment to look around. About a hundred yards in that direction is a guard house where decades before stood the Blackburn Apartments. My family ran those apartments, and after WWII and graduation from WVU, my father and mother lived the first few years of their marriage in those apartments.
I was born about ten blocks from here at the Mountain State Hospital where my grandfather was the hospital administrator.
Directly behind you is Ruffner Church where I became an Eagle Scout with Troop 201. When we were kids, every Sunday Mom and Dad would take my five brothers and me to Ruffner. Mom knew to keep us quiet during Reverend Chesney’s sermons she’d have to bribe us. So, between Sunday school and church, she’d give us money to go to buy mints at the Swan Drug Store.
Now, do you know where the Swan Drug Store was? About where you’re standing right now!
So, when Bon Jovi asks, “Who says you can’t go home?” – I agree with the sentiment. I’m just a hometown boy, these are my streets, and Charleston is the best life I’ve ever known. I’ve been all around the world and as a matter of fact, there’s no place like West Virginia.I’m running for office because I want to take West Virginia to its greatest days ever!
With me is my wonderful wife, Debbie. She was just elected to office herself, and tomorrow will be special. As Secretary of State and the Chief Election Officer, it is my duty to deliver the final election results to Speaker Roger Hanshaw at the opening of the legislative session. At that point, Debbie and her colleagues will be sworn into the West Virginia House of Delegates.
Other family members here today come from as close as Charleston and Parkersburg to as far away as North Carolina, Missouri, and Utah. Numerous friends have come from all around the state, and others have traveled across state lines. A college classmate, Lee Phillips drove from North Carolina to share this special day with us. Lee and I stood together on the plain at West Point raising our hands to take our Army oaths of office in 1973.
Army friends, co-workers, legislators, fellow church members, and more are gathered here today. I want to give a special salute to the many Veterans in attendance, the men and women who put their lives on the line to support and defend our Constitution, to fight for our freedoms, and to protect our way of life. Please join me in a warm welcome for all our Veterans.
And, in a solemn remembrance, I’d like to thank our Gold Star Mothers whose family members gave the ultimate sacrifice for our nation.
You may wonder why I offer such recognition to our military and the “Service” they represent. It is no accident we are gathered today in front of the Veterans Memorial on the State Capitol grounds. You see, leadership, dedication to duty, and service above self is what separates me – and all fellow patriots here today – from others who may seek the highest office in our state. We live in serious times, and serious times call for serious leaders.
I want to make clear; West Virginia’s best days are ahead of us. But growth and prosperity will not just fall upon us. Abraham Lincoln said, “The best way to predict the future is to make it.” To make a prosperous future, we can’t leave things to chance, to ambitious but unproven candidates. We need a battle-tested, competent, level-headed, and decisive leader who will remain calm under fire, tackle the tough issues, and focus on results.
I’ll give you examples from Afghanistan. On Christmas eve, 2013, I attended a church service at Bagram Airbase with my daughter, LT Lisa Miller. I have to tell you the dichotomy of a church service in Afghanistan: most everyone was carrying a loaded M-16, an RPG, or a weapon of some sort, and all of us were wearing flak jackets, helmets, and protective gear. When we sang, “Silent night, holy night, all is calm…sleep in heavenly peace,” the lyrics became more of a wish and a prayer than direction to baby Jesus. I guess we didn’t sing loud enough because as we exited, Taliban mortars started dropping around us. For the next few hours, I spent a most memorable night with my daughter in a concrete bunker until the “All Clear” was sounded.
Seven months later, at 6:30 Tuesday morning, July 22, 2014, I was walking to work when the Taliban attacked my compound. An explosion knocked me back against a wall. Six guards were killed and a dozen more were wounded. My compound, Camp Gibson, housed entities doing special missions, and I was in charge of about half of the Justice Sector program, the world’s largest Rule of Law program. Consider the initial shock of being under attack, the anxiety of not know what was coming, caring for the wounded, accounting for all our people, and getting everyone safely to bunkers.
Once order was restored, we had to get the wounded to hospitals, take care of their personal matters, arrange with their families, conduct a HAZMAT cleansing of the area, and handle human remains. Then there was the grisly task of identifying the dead and notifying their next of kin. We had to sustain constant communication with higher headquarters, deal with the press, and maintain operational security. One of the most challenging decisions was how to deal with Afghan staff, not knowing if any were involved in assisting the attack.
Then, there was the dealing with international allies and the nations of the victims who were killed and wounded. Throughout the chaos, we had to stay focused and maintain our core mission. As one of the key leaders on base, I learned valuable lessons as we successfully negotiated the ordeal, and subsequently held after-action reviews. This is what I refer to when I say, “battle-tested.”
Military experience has taught me that leadership is not inherited and it isn’t bought. Leadership is earned by being on the front lines, facing challenges, making tough decisions, and producing positive results. Decades of service have also instilled in me an appreciation for organizational structures, a skilled chain of command, the importance of staffing issues, and the need to build strong, competent teams. Yes, my leadership style is molded from decades of working within the most powerful institution on the face of the planet, the United States military.
But now, I’m back home, and my focus is on West Virginia. While I loved my time in the Army, I’ll again cite Bon Jovi: I’ve “been there done that, and I ain’t lookin back!”
For six years as Secretary of State we have produced the leanest, most productive, and most customer-oriented office in state government, thereby bringing national attention to West Virginia and our successes. I am proud that by working with our 55 county clerks we have cleaned voter rolls, developed secure military voting, implemented the nation’s first 4-agency Business One Stop, led the nation with GIS election mapping, and generated other West Virginia first-in-the-nation successes. This is what I refer to when I say, “experience matters.”
I am an America First/West Virginia First constitutional, conservative Republican, and I will lead as one. That means, I respect life, I honor the 2ndAmendment, I stand for less government, want lower taxes, I respect the rule of law, and I embrace our State Motto, “Mountaineers are always free!”
This is a battle for heart and soul of West Virginia. It is time to call-out the radical, woke, dangerous and ridiculous policies of the “progressive” Administration in Washington, DC. They bungled the Afghanistan departure, they weakened our National security, and they drove our cost of living sky high with out-of-control inflation. They opened our borders allowing deadly drugs to pour into the streets of hometown America.
They are changing the very things that made America great. Rather than fighting drugs, DC has been fighting a war on West Virginia’s coal, oil, and gas. DC has attacked West Virginia’s lifeblood, and it has attacked our way of life. We don’t want their liberal agenda, we don’t want 87,000 new IRS agents, we don’t want child mutilation, and we want parents to have control in our children’s education! I abhor wokeism, I will not tolerate the disrespect of law enforcement, and I will fight against the absolute silliness of DC.
Here in West Virginia, we know what a woman is, and we don’t want boys playing on girls’ teams! Once again, I quote Bon Jovi, “There’s only one place they call me one of their own, there’s only one place left I want to go…”
Folks, that is why I am announcing today that I am officially running for Governor of the great state of West Virginia! And the place I want to go is right over there. Yes, I will live in the Governor’s Mansion!
The time is right. You, this community, this state, and this nation have prepared me for this moment. I have the skills to lead West Virginia to its best days ever. I will fix infrastructure, boost education, build our economy, promote our energy, and tackle the opioid crisis.
Debbie and I stand ready with you to build West Virginia’s future, a future where jobs are plentiful, businesses are thriving, children are receiving the best education possible, and Mountaineers from all over the world can return home with good-paying jobs.
God bless each and every one of you; thank you for being here, thank you for your support, and may God continue to bless the Great State of West Virginia.