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McGeehan wants to be our senator

January 4, 2014
By George Moore , The Inter-Mountain

Patrick Riley McGeehan. Remember the name.

He's a conservative Republican running for the U.S. Senate seat now occupied by Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., who is retiring.

If conviction, passion and love of country are the measure of a man, McGeehan is a giant.

He's from the Hancock County community of Chester, population 2,500 or so.

Coincidence collides in Chester. The town boasts the world's largest teapot, and Patrick McGeehan is a Tea Party Republican.

He has the support of various leaders in the movement, including Charlie Von Hagel, founder of the Mineral County Tea Party, and he proudly wears the badge of the Republican Liberty Caucus, which is trying to put "Republican" back into "Republican Party."

McGeehan was born into an Air Force family in Enid, Okla., in 1979. He was the first of three boys, and over the next 15 years, the family traveled from base to base as his father's assignments required.

In 1994, tragedy struck. The father, Mark, a squadron commander, was killed in the crash of a B-52 Stratofortress at Fairchild Air Force Base, near Spokane. Patrick, age 15, was standing near the flight line when the plane went down. (An investigation determined that the pilot, Arthur "Bud" Holland, was at fault.)

Mark McGeehan died, but his values lived on, guiding his son into adulthood.

Patrick says two of the values he inherited are that "principles must be adhered to, regardless of whatever the personal consequences may be," and that the government must abide by the provisions of the Constitution.

After the accident, the family moved back to Chester. Although the absence of a dad forced the son to grow up fast, he says his high school years were pretty normal.

After graduation, he received an appointment to the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. He earned a bachelor of science degree in general engineering and history and was sent to intelligence school in San Angelo, Texas.

Ten months later, he became an intelligence analyst at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana. Then on to the Middle East, where he advised commanders on the progress of the war in Afghanistan. Then back to the states to focus on new hotspots - North Korea and Iran. He was an adviser to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

McGeehan rose through the ranks as the years passed, and he married and had a daughter. Military service and moving from assignment to assignment took a toll on the young family, however, and the marriage ended in divorce and shared custody of their daughter, who is now 9.

McGeehan left active duty, became a reservist and started his own company a packaging materials plant in Newell, not far from Chester. A collapsing economy fell on his company, and it closed.

His first bid for public office came in 2008. He ran for the state House of Delegates and won in the heavily Democratic district. In 2010 and 2012, he ran for the state Senate and lost.

Today, he's an account executive for Frontier Communications.

He and his former wife, a teacher, remain friends, and she supports him "100 percent." She adds, "Patrick would make a wonderful senator."

He also remains close to his brothers. One is a Navy helicopter pilot, the other is a civilian instructor at the Navy's Nuclear Power School in South Carolina.

He's active in the Knights of Columbus and Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Chester, where he teaches Sunday school.

There's no hesitation when he's asked for his favorite Bible verse. "Blessed are the peacemakers: for they will be called children of God." Matthew 5:9.

There's also no hesitation when he's asked about a primary guiding principle: "Duty is the most sublime word in our language. Do your duty in all things. You cannot do more. You should never wish to do less." Gen. Robert E. Lee.

Next week: What makes Patrick run.



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