Richie Robb of South Charleston, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in West Virginia who is a promoter of jobs for our state, is our guest on this May 18 edition of the Richard Urban Show where we present news and views from God’s point of view. I’m Richard Urban your host.
Richard: So please introduce yourself and tell us about why you’re running and about your family or anything you’d like to share.
“First of all, I’m a veteran of the United States Army. I was awarded the bronze star in Vietnam. I was the mayor of South Charleston, W.V. from 1975 to 2007. I serve on the state democratic executive committee, I’m a practicing attorney. I am married. I have two children and a delightful granddaughter,” Robb said.
Richard: Could you tell us the three main platform points of your campaign or three main things you’d like to the let people know about your campaign and why you’re running?
“It probably breaks down into this. Richard, good jobs, good jobs, good jobs. That is my primary emphasis. Most of West Virginia is being bypassed by the national economy. Now Jefferson County doesn’t appear to be, nor Berkeley county and perhaps Morgan County, as well and around the Morgantown area, but the rest of the state has not kept pace with the national economy. We need good jobs. We have a drug crisis in West Virginia. I think there’s a direct correlation to the lack of a good economy and that drastic uptake in drugs and I think with the corona virus pandemic that we’re experiencing right now West Virginia has a unique opportunity to come out of this and make itself better, but too many elected officials, including the one who occupies the seat I’m seeking, sit around and they talk about it all the time, about bringing good jobs to our state, but very little is done throughout most of the state,” Robb explained.
Richard: What would you do to stimulate or bring these jobs? Or, in your capacity as a senator, how could you help with bringing jobs to West Virginia?
“Well, as I said most folks, including the incumbent talk about it but things need to be done. One; federal contracting. We’re not getting our share of federal contracts, federal facilities. Robert Bird brought the fingerprint facility to Clarksburg and it spawned a number of other high-tech jobs in that area. The Appalachian Regional Commission. Why shouldn’t it have a federal tax incentive there as opposed to the grants that it has formally passed out?” Robb asks.
Richard: Let me just interject. The regional commission, one of the other candidates was talking about that too. What were you referring to, having an office in West Virginia versus just having the block grant?
“It wouldn’t be block grants. I’m more in for simplicity in government, I would say, the tax incentive within the; I served as mayor within the Appalachian regional commission, but that was largely grants. One applied, put together a program, got a grant. A tax incentive is if Toyota wants to put another facility in West Virginia, they get special federal tax benefits for that. And I know it’s gone on in the Eastern Panhandle, state and local tax benefits, and that’s going to happen. But let’s have federal ones as well. There’s another good example with the corona virus and particularly the tariff wars that have gone on for the last year or so, with China; supply chains for a lot of major industries, automobiles computers, pharmaceuticals have become disrupted. What’s happening in Arizona? One of the largest computer component companies is locating a billion dollar facility in Arizona. Why Arizona? Why not West Virginia? President Trump actually came out and said ‘The reason we are encouraging Taiwan to locate there is because the Republican Senator, Ms. McSally is facing tough opposition.’ Well, why shouldn’t that come to West Virginia? We have plenty of space up in the eastern panhandle part and the rest of the state as well, but the Federal Government is taking us for granted and they think, “Well we’ve got their votes, we don’t need to bring good jobs to West Virginia,” Robb said.
Richard: With the COViD-19 restrictions, there are a lot of questions about the constitutionality of lock downs and edicts and things like that. But on the national level, with the Patriot Act in 2001, there was the surveillance of the U.S. citizens. They’re continuing their surveillance of Americans presumably supposedly for national security reasons. What’s your thought on that? I know there was a move in the house to defund the NSA for the surveillance operation. Would you support such a bill should it come to the Senate or would you not support it?
“I’m not sure I would. I don’t know all the particulars and I know these measures were passed for security purposes after 9-11, and were there mistakes made, and were they overzealous on occasion? Well, yes, they were. I experienced that myself but now we’re also going through a situation where perhaps the surveillance needs to be done for healthcare reasons, and certainly mistakes have been made all across the board, including us as individuals respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. I would have to sit. I don’t want to sound like I’m giving you the limp leg, but the devil would be in the details. We need to be more concise and more brief in everything we’re doing in government. And I think some of these stimulus bills, are running to thousands of pages and we need to simplify things,” Robb answered.
Richard: Another issue I’ve been working on here in West Virginia that has national implications, has to do with the issue of vaccinations or what is called forced vaccination, meaning no vaccination, no school. And also President Trump has brought up this week, having military give potential COVID-19 vaccines, which I find very concerning. You may or may not be aware that in 1986, pharmaceutical companies were, with the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act, removed from liability for vaccine injuries. Would you support bringing back liability for pharmaceutical companies, so they could be sued or would you support a kind of mandatory vaccinations like for COVID-19? Are you for that? What are your thoughts on that kind of issue?
“I come from the point of view, it again, it’s public safety, and with this pandemic we’re all at risk, so I think, yes, if there’s a vaccination out there, it needs to be administered to all of us to protect all of us. Now with respect to the liability. I was reading some articles about that this weekend and I think the way the liability can be structured is, if there’s a high higher degree of negligence as far as the pharmaceutical company, and if they’re grossly negligent and reckless and putting out certain medicine, whether it’s for this pandemic or anything else, I think there should be some liability,” Robb said.
Richard: Would you support safety studies for new vaccines?
“Well, I think, certainly, certainly before a vaccine is put on the market for the general population, I think safety studies are advisable and should be done but they should be done expeditiously to get that vaccine on the market or make a determination whether it’s safe or not, whether it does good. But there are situations in the past where people have been willing to try a new vaccine or they’re in a life-threatening situation; they don’t have time to wait for the vaccine, and in certain respects, maybe with the current pandemic we may feel we’re in that situation as well.” Robb answered.
Richard: Do you think that in the different reactions states have been doing – lock downs and the various regulations that many governors have put in place -has there been some overreach or what’s your feeling about it?
“Well, I’m in a part of West Virginia that’s not largely affected by the pandemic but we’ve taken the measures here as well. I can’t say that there’s been overreach, or under-reach. I think all of us from the president, United Nations on down to us as individuals that we’re going through something we’ve never gone through before and I think it’s important that we first look for public health and then let’s rebuild the economy. And on public health. We’ve invested millions in experts, millions in technology. Let’s use that. Let’s get safe first. You can always fix the economy. That’s going to be tough, not easy to do. But you can’t bring back a human life. So I lean on the side of public safety.” Robb responded.
Richard: On the Democrat side, you have a couple of opponents in the primary. How would you contrast yourself to them? What’s different about you? What are you bringing to the table that’s different or how do you contrast?
“I know very little about their campaigns but what I do know is, I’m the only candidate including Republicans, who are speaking about and has a plan and a willingness to work for good jobs, and West Virginia quality jobs and no one else is doing that. And one thing about bringing good quality jobs is the main ingredient is the experience and willingness and doggedness to do it,” Robb replied.
Richard: Are there other things you’d like to share with the voters?
“Well, I mentioned the jobs and I want to mention this too. It appears in the economy that education is critical and education is going to be a big factor in the new economy. I’m married to a school teacher. And education is going to change a lot with respect to those jobs, even coming out of the pandemic. Kids aren’t in school so I want to see education promoted in a visionary way. And the third thing would be medical care. I’m not, I’m wary of the one-size-fits-all approach, but I will agree, the American medical care system is a disaster. But I don’t believe there’s going to be a one-size-fits-all or a panacea. I think the Affordable Care Act was a legitimate first step that did some good on pre-existing conditions and children under 26 and eligibility for Medicaid, but we need to build on that, like we have on medical care and keep building but we need to do it sooner than later,” Robb answered.
Richard: Do you believe in the so-called single-payer healthcare model or whatever you call it?
“Well, it would seem to me that that certainly should be an option in that as I understand the single payer would be a government payment system, it would seem to me that needed to be an option, but even that needs to be a lot more efficient, a lot more effective, a lot more user-friendly than what it is,” Robb said.
Richard: With all the COVID-19 stimulus bills and more proposed, some people say, and it’s probably true, we’re printing up money that we don’t have, because of the current financial system, the money is not backed by any real assets, like gold. So my question is, are we really going overboard with debt that we’re going to load off to our grandchildren, and our grandchildren are going to be saddled with this incredible debt? Is that sustainable? Is that really a good thing? What do you think?
“Well, I think it is a legitimate concern. It just seems like what used to be a million, billions. Now we’re in trillions under this pandemic and it seems like we’re still spending, but we may have to spend it. Yes, I would agree that some day bills have to be paid. There is going to be a reckoning. I don’t think we can necessarily do that reckoning right now during what appears to be a serious emergency situation but I think we need to put together tax and spending policies that will address the debt down the road,” Robb responded.
Richard: I think we’re coming toward the close. If you’d like to make any closing comments or anything you’d like to comment on, or just in closing, why would voters choose you on June 9th?
“Well, I appreciate the opportunity to speak to you and the voters. Appreciate your questions again. The primary thesis of my campaign has been wanting good jobs for West Virginia. Most of West Virginia does not have those good jobs and we’ll have a lot of opportunities as we come out of the coronavirus pandemic to maybe make a restart where we can do that. The only candidate who’s truly speaking about it and only candidate who has provided measures where it can be done. I’m the only candidate with the wherewithal to do that, I have the experience from doing it in a town that was prosperous. We have a unique location. We have good people. We have a good climate. We have a lot of advantages that aren’t being taken advantage of, and I’m willing to devote 24/7 as the United States Senator to do that very thing,” Robb concluded.