CHARLESTON – Former U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin has filed pre-candidacy papers to run for governor of West Virginia.
Goodwin filed the papers Friday, less than a week after said he was stepping down as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia.
Goodwin, a Democrat, will be running against billionaire Jim Justice and state Senate Minority Leader Jeff Kessler. State Senate President Bill Cole is the lone Republican in the race right now.
Under federal law, Goodwin was not allowed to conduct any campaign activity while serving as prosecutor under federal law. That included opening a fundraising account.
On Dec. 28, Goodwin said he was stepping down from office effective at the end of the year and is returning to private practice.
He has been a federal prosecutor since January 2001 and has served as the presidentially appointed head of the office since May 2010.
“It has been the greatest honor of my life to serve as United States Attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia,” Goodwin said in the statement. “The unparalleled success of this office during my tenure is a tribute to and a result of the extraordinary dedication of the lawyers, staff and law enforcement personnel with whom I have been privileged to serve.
“Their commitment to the safety and security of this nation and West Virginia has been and will continue to be an inspiration.”
As a federal prosecutor, Goodwin secured convictions in nearly every type of case that his office handles.
Just days after Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch mine exploded on April 5, 2010, Goodwin launched a criminal investigation into the disaster. His team’s investigation resulted in the conviction of five individuals, including the security chief at UBB, a mine superintendent at UBB, the president of a Massey mining group and the former chairman and CEO of Massey Energy, Don Blankenship -- the highest-ranking executive ever convicted of a workplace safety crime.
He also led an investigation into those responsible for the January 2014 release of MCHM into the Elk River in Charleston, contaminating the drinking water of more than 300,000 residents. That investigation led to criminal convictions of Freedom Industries and six of its officials, including former Freedom presidents Gary Southern and Dennis Farrell.
Goodwin also headed probes leading to a host of convictions of corrupt public and business officials, including major investigations in Logan, Lincoln and Mingo counties.
In addition, his office has prosecuted hundreds of pill and heroin dealers, shuttered pill mills and convicted doctors and pharmacists.
Though he did not mention in his statement whether he plans to run for office, Goodwin’s announcement now clears the way for a possible gubernatorial run.
Carol Casto, Goodwin’s first assistant U.S. attorney, was named interim head of the office on Jan. 4. She has served as an assistant U.S. attorney since 1989 in Charleston. Before that she was an assistant prosecutor in Kanawha County for six years.