West Virginia Republican Bill Maloney, who narrowly lost to Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin earlier this year in a special election, has filed paperwork with the state to form an exploratory committee for another run in 2012, he announced on Monday.
"I filed paperwork with the Secretary of State's office today, forming an exploratory committee for the 2012 gubernatorial election," Maloney said in a statement. "During the last few weeks, I have spoken to many West Virginians who remain concerned about our state's future. They have encouraged me to run for governor in 2012. I am grateful for their continued support. In the coming weeks, I will make an announcement regarding my future plans."
Maloney, a political newcomer who self-funded much of his special election campaign, upset former Secretary of State Betty Ireland in the GOP primary before going on to run a very competitive general election race against Tomblin. He lost to Tomblin by just three points and made a late surge in what was by far 2011's most competitive governor's race. He received a hand from national Republicans, who blanketed the airwaves in the state during the final week with an ad tying Tomblin to President Obama.
Maloney's decision to form an exploratory committee will allow him to raise money. His ability to self-fund and his exposure during this year's race would make him a formidable candidate in 2012, should he choose to run.
Tomblin took over as acting governor when Democrat Joe Manchin stepped down following his election to the Senate in 2010.