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Ralph William Clark

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Ralph William Clark
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Former candidate for
Governor of West Virginia
Bachelor'sUniversity of Denver
Ph.D.University of Colorado
Campaign website
Ralph William Clark was a 2012 Republican candidate for Governor of West Virginia in the 2012 election. He lost to Bill Maloney in the May 8th Republican primary.[1]

He previously ran for governor in the special 2011 election, and placed 7th of eight candidates in the May 14, 2011 primary.


Clark has been on the faculty at West Virginia University for over 40 years and currently holds the position of Professor and Chair of the Philosophy Department, and Coordinator of the Humanities Program. He has written about ethics and has an interest in business management and economics.

A native of Exeter, New Hampshire, Clark's family was quite poor as a child and his father's business perennially struggled. Beginning in elementary school, Ralph helped out with odd jobs. Years later, he was valedictorian of Newburyport High School and earned a scholarship for his undergraduate studies.

Clark was Phi Beta Kappa at the University of Denver, where he studied for a B.A. He stayed in Colorado to earn a Ph.D. at the University of Colorado.

He lives in Morgantown with Suzanne, his wife. The Clarks have three grown children and one grandchild. As a hobby, Ralph enjoys repairing old cars, skills he learned as a child while helping his family with expenses.



See also: West Virginia gubernatorial election, 2012

Clark fell to Bill Maloney in the Republican primary election on May 8, 2012.[1]


Clark's campaign slogan was Low Taxes, Least Red Tape, Highest Ethics.[2]

  • Low taxes: "My proposals regarding taxes include:
  1. lowering the corporate net income tax rate from its present 8.5%, through a series of phased reductions, to something like 4.5%;
  2. completely phasing out West Virginia’s personal property tax on inventory, machinery, and equipment; #achieving significant reductions in personal income and state sales tax"
  • Least Red Tape: "As governor, one of my first acts will be to create a blue-ribbon commission whose charge is to “simplify West Virginia.” This commission will examine state programs and policies, and rules and regulations, with the goal of finding ways to make state government as user-friendly (even painless!) as possible for anyone and everyone who wants to produce more and better jobs for West Virginians.
Another of my ideas is to work to achieve greater transparency in government. This will yield an added inducement for government to reform itself in the glare of a much brighter public spotlight. The result will be that government becomes easier for everyone in the state to deal with."
  • Highest Ethics: One of my goals will be to change the way that members of the state Supreme Court are selected. Our present system, where justices stand for election as members of a political party, is a highly partisan process that hurts West Virginia in competition with other states. A better system is to have justices appointed - but only if the right sort of ethical climate exists. I will work toward producing and maintaining just such an ethical climate.
Under my leadership, state government in West Virginia will move toward a day when it no longer does favors for any special interest groups, but instead serves the interest of all citizens impartially. Good government is "government for everyone," which means protecting the rights and interests of all residents in the state - business owners, employees, the rich, the poor, blue collar and white collar, old and young, men and women, black and white, people who possess mineral rights to and people who possess only surface rights. Good government does not cut corners in protecting the environment, or health and safety. It gives adequate help to people in genuine need."


See also: West Virginia special gubernatorial election, 2011 and West Virginia state executive official elections, 2011

West Virginia was not scheduled to hold a gubernatorial election until 2012. However, elected Democrat Joe Manchin gave up the seat to join the U.S. Senate in the 2010 midterms. Senate President Earl Ray Tomblin, also a Democrat, took over the office as the Lieutenant Governor of West Virginia is a title accorded to the legislator elected as Senate President, and is next in succession to the office of governor.

Clark lost the primary. Republican candidate Bill Maloney won the Republican nomination but fell to Tomblin in the general election.

2011 Race for Governor - Republican Primary
Candidates Percentage
Clark S. Barnes 9.58%
Mitch Carmichael 3.35%
Ralph William Clark 1.88%
Cliff Ellis 0.45%
Larry V. Faircloth 3.89%
Betty Ireland 30.91%
Green check mark.jpg Bill Maloney 45.11%
Mark Sorsaia 4.84%
Total votes 61,134


Clark supported extensive tax reductions, including:

  • a phased reduction in the business tax from 8.5% to approximately 4.5%
  • completely phasing out property taxes on inventory, machinery, and equipment for businesses

He proposed a blue-ribbon commission called "Simplify West Virginia," dedicated to cutting red tape and regulation in West Virginia.

Clark also intended to reform the state's Supreme Court system, currently run as partisan elections - something Clark argues has led to too much corruption.

His economic platform was called a "New Direction for Capitalism," described as strong free markets reforms with strong ethical underpinnings.[3] One example of that was in Clark's support for a severance tax on the Marcellus shale, provided it was low enough to be "competitive."[4]

Clark backed small increases to licensing and gasoline taxes to support transportation and infrastructure repair as well as a generally higher level of spending on social services; and backed an education plan that favored charter schools, vouchers, and pay raises for teachers.

When he laid out his slogan, Clark said, "Low taxes, least red tape, highest ethics...We can do our darnedest to make government as close as possible to being painless in West Virginia."


Clark has three grown sons and two grandchildren. He and his wife Suzanne, a retired music and second grade teacher, live in Morgantown.[5]

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