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The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Meet Bill Maloney, the Rising GOP Candidate in West Virginia



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Election Day is just 15 days away! In the state of West Virginia, that is.

Earl Ray Tomblin became governor when Joe Manchin was elected to the Senate last year. Tomblin began the race as a heavy favorite against Republican Bill Maloney, but this race is turning out a lot closer than most expected: “Whatever the ad’s effect on voters, the Tomblin ad suggests the race has narrowed and that Tomblin’s once formidable double-digit lead has shrunk. A recent poll suggested Tomblin was leading by only 6 points, though it had nearly a 4 percent margin of error.”

The governor, who owns an out-of-state home in a gated community, is attacking his opponent for owning an out-of-state home in a gated community.

Meet Maloney:

I think Tomblin would be better off attacking Maloney for bringing his dog along on job interviews.

Maloney’s not exaggerating when he says he played a role in helping rescue the Chilean miners:

Maloney, owner of Drill Leader Consulting in Morgantown, W.Va., refused to believe it should take four months to drill a hole through the earth to rescue the Chilean miners. A few days later, he heard that his friend Brandon Fisher, president of Center Rock Inc., a drilling technology company in Berlin, Pa., was also working on a plan to drill a hole more quickly.Maloney and Fisher put their heads together, and with help from many others, came up with an idea.

That idea, which came to be known as Plan B, was one of three rescue attempts approved by the Chilean government. It used “down the hole (DTH) hammers”—a heavy steel piston with a carbide and diamond-impregnated bit that vibrates up to 1,500 times a minute and turns as it pounds. The technology was better suited than conventional drill bits, Maloney says, to bore through the extremely hard, abrasive quartzite and silica rock at the San Jose mine, and to do so starting at an 11-degree angle.

Maloney and Fisher flew to Chile on Sept. 3 and arrived at the rescue site the next day.

Timely planning and good fortune enabled them to begin drilling Sept. 5. Center Rock Inc. had fabricated the drilling equipment in days instead of the weeks usually required, and UPS shipped it for free. Another Pennsylvania company, Schramm Inc. of West Chester, had provided drilling rigs.

A Chilean drill team had already drilled 5.5-inch holes to enable air and supplies to reach the trapped miners. The Plan B team had to “ream,” or enlarge, a similar hole twice—first to 12 inches with a DTH hammer to achieve stability and allow cuttings to fall into the mine opening, and then to 28 inches using Center Rock’s LP (low-profile) drill with four hammers in a barrel reamer assembly. The team hit a snag at a depth of about 800 feet when its 12-inch DTH hammer struck a support bolt from a nearby mine ramp, causing a bit to shear off. It took a week to remove the pieces of broken bit from the hole with various fishing tools before the team could resume drilling.

“No one had ever tried an LP drill like ours at the angle we encountered for the distance we had to go,” Maloney says. “The rock in the top of the hole was fractured, not stable. It was really tricky to keep the reamer inside the 12-inch hole and gravity was working against us in the angled hole.”

After working out the kinks, the drillers reached peak boring speeds of 20 feet-per-hour reaming the 12-inch hole and just over 6 feet-per-hour widening the hole to 28 inches. The team, which counted 75 members, mostly Chilean, worked in shifts around the clock. They lost and wore out numerous drill bits, but reached the mine workshop at 8:05 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 9.

In this Maloney attack ad, if you watch carefully, you’ll notice that a “headline” in the faux newspaper declares, “Obama Adds More to National Debt Than Past Four Presidents Combined,” a none-too-subtle effort to tie Tomblin to Obama.

It’s not surprising that Maloney is trying to make Obama an issue; PPP recently put his job approval/disapproval split at 32/62 in that state.


Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Maloney , Earl Ray Thomblin


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