(CHARLESTON, WV) – West Virginia Secretary of State and U.S. Senate nominee Natalie Tennant outlined the powerful Wall Street vs. Main Street contrast with her opponent, Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito, today at the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce Candidate Forum at the Greenbrier.

“You know I will stand up to politics as usual in Washington, because that's exactly what I've done in Charleston,” Tennant told the business crowd.

“In 2010, three Democratic officials tried to steal an election. As Secretary of State, I led the investigation that put them behind bars. That's right, I put three members of my own political party in federal prison, because I don't answer to a political party. I answer to the people of West Virginia.

“I cut my budget. I saved money and gave $3 million back to taxpayers.

“And while I gave money back to taxpayers, the Congresswoman voted to let Wall Street CEOs take huge bonuses - the same Wall Street CEOs taxpayers were bailing out. That's the difference in this race.”

Tennant is a small business owner and her pro-business record as Secretary of State earned Tennant endorsements from the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce and the Charleston Regional Chamber of Commerce in 2012.

As Secretary of State, Tennant cut fees and made it easier for businesses to file paperwork.

Capito's long record using the House Financial Services Committee to boost profits for Wall Street bankers like her husband, earned her the title of “Wall Street's Secret Weapon” by the Center for Public Integrity. And Politico recently reported banking lobbyists say they “love” Capito because she “shares their concerns.”

Congresswoman Capito voted twice to let Wall Street CEOs take huge bonuses, while taxpayers were baling them out. The Hill newspaper raised serious questions about whether Congresswoman Capito used her position on the House Committee that oversees banks to land her husband a job. Congresswoman Capito has held as much as $6.5 million in stock in the very same banking industry she is supposed to regulate on the House Financial Services Committee. During today's forum, Tennant also recapped the four-part jobs agenda she released over the summer, with an emphasis on energy jobs and education.

Each of Tennant's detailed policy agenda's are available here:

1. Coal and Energy Jobs Agenda

2. Jobs and Businesses

3. Education

4. Combating Drug Abuse

Tenant strongly opposes President Obama's regulations on coal-fired power plants. She recently joined thousands of miners protesting the EPA in Pittsburgh.

At today's forum, Tennant outlined a detailed alternative to the proposed regulations that will make coal stronger, more competitive and cut emissions without cutting jobs. Tennant has directly challenged President Obama to implement her strategy with by investing in advanced technology being developed in West Virginia.

Complete text of Tennant's opening statement follows below.

West Virginia Secretary of State and U.S. Senate Nominee Natalie Tennant

Opening Statement

West Virginia Chamber of Commerce Candidate Forum

August 28, 2014

Thank you for being here.

Many of you work with the business division in the Secretary of State's office every day, and we are proud to serve you.

But I'm not sure many of you know that I am also a business owner, just like you.

My husband and I run a small media company in Charleston. I know that the perks of owning your own business include working nights and weekends.

So I understand how valuable your time is, and I appreciate you being here today.

Wall Street vs. Main Street

In March, I sat down with a group of business owners just up the road from here at the visitor's bureau in Lewisburg. We discussed the challenges they face and the opportunities they see for West Virginia's future.

What I heard over and over again was clear: Washington is working for Wall Street profits, not West Virginia businesses.

And that is what this election is all about.

This race offers a clear choice between my record of working for West Virginia and my opponent's record of working for Wall Street.

Last week, I returned to Lewisburg to visit one of those business owners: Tamara Pence.

Tamara owns a small kitchen shop. She works hard to pay her employees above minimum wage. And she takes great pride in providing jobs for her community.

But like many small business owners, Tamara faces road blocks every day that keep her from growing her business or hiring more workers.

One of Tamara's biggest obstacles is the fee she is forced to pay every time a customer uses a debit or credit card.

Many customers don't realize that big credit card companies charge a fee every time they swipe a card for everyday needs like gas and groceries.

Someone has to pay that fee. So it either means higher prices for customers, or higher costs for business owners.

At the end of each month, Tamara goes over every single credit card charge - painstakingly working to keep her credit card fees below 2 percent.

That 2 percent fee keeps businesses like Tamara's from being able to hire extra workers. And the threat of going over 2 percent could mean the difference between staying in business or closing up shop.

Everywhere I go, West Virginia small business owners from, Tucker County to Beckley, tell me these fees are killing them.

And what has the Congresswoman done about it?

Instead of providing much-needed relief to the small businesses that power West Virginia jobs, the Congresswoman led the charge to increase these fees and boost credit card company profits at West Virginia's expense.

Major credit card companies threw millions of dollars behind this push to raise fees on our small businesses. Wells Fargo alone spent $6 million lobbying.

But who was looking out for businesses owners like Tamara?

Congresswoman Capito chose to side with Wall Street lobbyists. I will side with Tamara and West Virginia businesses like hers every time.

Pro-Business Record

I know small business owners can't afford high-priced lobbyists, fancy accountants, and armies of lawyers.

That's why I've worked hard to make the Secretary of State's Office a resource to make business owners' lives easier, not one more hoop business owners have to jump through.

Instead of raising fees on small businesses, I cut late fees in half. And I made it easier for business owners to file paperwork, so they can spend more time focused on their products.

In the Secretary of State's Office, you, the people of West Virginia are the boss - and we work for you.

That's the philosophy I will take to the U.S. Senate.

Jobs are Priority Number 1

Not long ago, I met a mother in Charleston named Joanne. Joanne said to me, Natalie: I am a proud West Virginian. But I am worried my kids won't have the job opportunities they need to stay in West Virginia and raise their families here.

Looking around this room, I'm confident we can create opportunities for JoAnne's kids, not just to stay here, but to thrive here.

I'm confident, because you all are the business owners, community leaders and educators who are making those opportunities happen.

You deserve a partner in the U.S. Senate.

Good-paying jobs for West Virginia is my number one priority. And I've got a plan to make it happen.

Throughout the summer, I released a four-part series of detailed policy agendas outlining my ideas for moving West Virginia forward by:

1. Promoting energy,

2. Utilizing technology, research and manufacturing,

3. Investing in education, and

4. Combating drug abuse


Number One: in West Virginia, we know that jobs start with energy. And energy starts with coal.

When the EPA refused to come to West Virginia, I took our fight, and our voice, to Pittsburgh.

I testified before the EPA hearings and issued a direct challenge to President Obama: don't attack us with regulations. Invest in West Virginia and we will deliver technology that can cut emissions without cutting jobs.

Whether President Obama chooses to recognize it or not, the fact is: coal powers nearly 40 percent of our electricity in this country. Trying to squeeze coal out of the energy equation is not only unrealistic, it is dangerous and irresponsible.

I refuse to accept that we have to choose between clean air and good-paying jobs - not after the cutting edge research I have seen at the National Research Center for Coal and Energy at West Virginia University and the National Energy Technology Lab in Morgantown.

Studies show the costs of addressing climate change would double without advanced coal technology. It simply must be part of the equation, and it can be developed right here in West Virginia.

But President Obama has dropped the ball when it comes to making the necessary investments to bring advanced coal technology to market. And the EPA's irresponsible regulations threaten to derail commercialization altogether.

Instead, I've challenged President Obama to invest directly in building or retrofitting coal-fired power plants across the country with advanced coal technology.

And here's how we can pay for it: there is $8 billion sitting around unused as part of a Department of Energy loan guarantee program that is already intended for advanced coal technology.

Instead of letting that money go to waste, we can invest it directly. And we can do it without costing taxpayers an extra dime.

Make no mistake: we can afford to make advanced coal technology a reality. We can't afford not to.

Making this investment will do three things:

First, advanced coal technology will protect coal jobs today, and make coal stronger and more competitive for years to come.

Second, it will cut emissions without cutting jobs.

And third, it will create a whole new market for technology that can be developed right here in West Virginia and shipped all around the world.

I marched side-by-side with thousands of coal miners through the streets of downtown Pittsburgh to protest the EPA.

I will fight President Obama and anyone else who tries to hurt our coal jobs. And I will bring new ideas to help us win that fight.

In addition to coal, West Virginia also has enormous potential to grow our booming natural gas industry. We can do both.

But it's not enough to drill natural gas and ship it somewhere else. We must be using West Virginia energy right here. Natural gas provides the perfect opportunity to revitalize our chemical industry.

Research, Technology, Manufacturing and Tourism

And the possibilities don't end there. With our manufacturing know how, West Virginia can create thousands of jobs making parts for wind turbines and solar panels.

The state of Ohio created 29,000 jobs in this type of manufacturing and there is no reason we can't do the same.

God has blessed us with energy and we will use it all to power West Virginia jobs. But that's not all.

My second policy agenda explores opportunities to create even more high-paying jobs through research, technology, tourism, manufacturing, and more.

From 3-d printing to bio-nano-technology, some of the most cutting-edge research and technology is already being developed at places like the Robert C Byrd Institute at Marshall.

It's time to take that research from the lab to the factory and fuel the next wave of hi-tech jobs right here in West Virginia.


I see the promise and possibility or West Virginia all around us, especially in this room.

But I also know we can't reach that potential unless we invest in our greatest resource: our people.

And that's why third agenda focuses on education.

You've made education a focus of this year's conference, because you know that we can create all the good-paying jobs in the world, but it won't do us any good if West Virginians don't have the skills they need to fill those jobs.

No one is more committed to cutting spending and balancing the budget than I am.

I cut my own budget in the Secretary of State's Office. I saved money. And I gave $3 million back to the taxpayers of this state.

I am ready to take my red pen to Washington and get serious about cutting the deficit.

But, I will not balance the budget by cutting programs like Head Start and Pell Grants that give West Virginia students the hand up they need to land good-paying jobs, while Wall Street millionaires get a hand out from the tax code.

Budgets are about priorities, and West Virginia is my priority.

Combating Drug Abuse

Education is critical to creating opportunity. But it can't work alone.

My fourth agenda tackles the drug crisis that is tearing apart our families, devastating our communities, and yes, holding back our economy – not just in West Virginia, but across the country.

Tackling the drug crisis is a West Virginia priority, and it's time Washington started paying attention.

This is just the beginning.

I've been all across West Virginia gathering feedback from the leaders who are working to move West Virginia forward every day.

I toured a natural gas drilling site in Glenville. I visited a Made in America clothing business in Morgantown. I heard from teachers in Huntington. I talked with law enforcement and community leaders who are working to combat drug abuse in Hinton.

And I want to hear from you. Each one of these agendas in on my website. Please go online and send me your ideas.

Because I am committed to taking your voice to Washington.

Health Care

As a business owner, I know most of the time the best thing government can do to create jobs is get out of the way.

There is a lot about the health care law that wasn't done right. And there is a lot I will do to fix it - starting with small businesses.

I've called on Congress and the President to end the so-called employer mandate. It isn't helping the workers who need it most. It's placing unnecessary burdens on our small businesses. It simply has to go.

At the same time, you just heard from Bret Baier.

In his book, Bret shares the story of his son's life threatening heart condition and the love and faith that got his family through.

Like Bret's son Paul, my daughter Delaney was born with a life-threatening heart condition. She had open heart surgery when she was just a week old.

Many of you in this room prayed for Delaney. In fact there isn't a week that goes by when someone doesn't come up to me on the street and say, “how's that girl?”

West Virginia is my family, and I am so grateful for your support.

I thank God everyday that surgery saved our daughter's life.

But I will also never forget the day my husband, Erik, and I were trying to get health insurance for our small business.

Erik got off the phone with the insurance company and he said to me: Natalie, they will cover you and me, but they won't cover Delaney. Now, what parent takes something their child can't have?

So you can bet I will never vote to go back to the days when insurance companies could turn away kids like my daughter and Bret's son. I will never let another family go through what we went through.

Washington is Broken

And I will certainly never shut down the government, and put West Virginia jobs at risk, just to make a political point.

I'd like to tell you the last time Congress passed a budget.

But the gridlock in Washington is so bad, they can't even agree on when that was.

You know that's no way to run a business. And it's no way to run a government either.

West Virginia knows how to pass a budget, even when that means tough choices.

Under Joe Manchin's leadership as Governor, we didn't just balance the budget, we had a surplus.

I've been proud to work with Governor Tomblin to cut spending and keep West Virginia on that responsible path.

And I'm ready to work with Senator Manchin take West Virginia values to Washington in the Senate.

Independent Leadership

The Congresswoman wants you to believe this race is about Washington politicians.

But I am here to tell you: this race is about West Virginia.

Not President Obama. Not Harry Reid. Not Elizabeth Warren.

Not a single one of them is on the ballot.

I am. And Congresswoman Capito is running against me.

You know I will stand up to politics as usual in Washington, because that's exactly what I've done in Charleston.

In 2010, three democratic officials tried to steal an election. As Secretary of State, I led the investigation that put them behind bars.

That's right. I put three members of my own political party in federal prison, because I don't answer to a political party. I answer to the people of West Virginia.

Yes. I cut my budget. I saved money and gave $3 million back to taxpayers.

And while I gave money back to taxpayers, the Congresswoman voted to let Wall Street CEOs take huge bonuses. The same Wall Street CEOs taxpayers were bailing out.

That's the difference in this race.

I am Natalie Tennant.

I know what it's like to work a minimum wage job.

I know what it's like to run a small business.

I believe it's time Washington started answering to the working people of this country.

That's why I am running to be West Virginia's voice in the United States Senate. And I would appreciate your vote.

Thank you.

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