By Mannix Porterfield
In his collegiate days, Steve Harrison sent many a football flying through the uprights in a Brown University uniform.
Two years from now, the former West Virginia legislator just might try to score again, this time with the stakes higher, on the political gridiron as a congressman, by succeeding fellow Republican and seven-term Rep. Shelley Moore Capito in the 2nd District.
“I’m very interested in the congressional race,” Harrison acknowledged in a Friday interview.
“Actually, I’ve been interested in that one for a long time. I’ve told people for quite a while if and when Shelley ever made a move to run for something else, I’d have to take a serious look at the congressional race.”
By her own choice, Capito’s days in the 2nd District are numbered.
Back on Nov. 26, the daughter of former West Virginia Gov. Arch A. Moore Jr. gathered reporters in the lower rotunda of the state Capitol to announce plans to run in two years for the U.S. Senate, a seat now occupied by Sen. Jay Rockefeller, a Democrat.
“It’s not definite yet,” said Harrison, who served 14 years in the House of Delegates before winning one term in the Senate, choosing not to seek re-election when his term ended in 2006.
Early after the New Year arrives, the Cross Lanes resident is expected to reach “a more definite decision.”
“But I am leaning in that direction and anticipate probably having a decision early next year,” Harrison said.
“I think so many of the major decisions are now being made in Congress. I really enjoyed and was glad to have the opportunity to serve in the Legislature, but it seems like most of the major decisions now are decided on the federal level and I think I can make a difference for our nation, as well as our state. I’d like to have that opportunity.”
Harrison acknowledged “a solid conservative record” in his days as a state legislator, “but I think I’m approachable.”
In each of his legislative races, Harrison noted, he ran in districts where Democrats held the voter registration edge and was never defeated.
“I think I had support certainly from both parties,” he said.
“I think I always tried to let people know where I stood on issues. I don’t think there was any question on most of the issues how I was going to vote and I think folks respected that. Obviously, not all the voters agreed with me on every issue. I think they found me approachable and somebody who would stick by his word. I think that got me a lot of support through the years. I would expect to do the same type of thing in Congress.”
Until a policy change in the 1990s, Ivy League freshmen couldn’t play varsity football, so Harrison was a three-year letterman, and wound up playing three positions — tight end, offensive tackle and ultimately a place-kicker, that last role coming as a senior when the regular kicker was sidelined with an injury.
Not long ago, Harrison put in some time as a kicker in semi-pro football.
“I never thought I would be playing in a full pad football game again,” he said. “I had a lot of fun.”
Without doubt, he remains in shape.
“I kicked a 55-yarder this month,” he said. “I still have some range there.”
Harrison has been in the banking industry 22 years and for more than 16 years has been a vice president and the chief customer officer at the Poca Valley Bank.
Ivy League schools have a liberal reputation, and while on the Brown campus, Harrison rubbed shoulders with some political notables on the left.
He was in the same class as Amy Carter, daughter of former President Jimmy Carter, and once sat in a political science class with Kara Du-kakis, daughter of the 1988 presidential hopeful, and Harrison can recall two other children of political luminaries — a son of former Vice President Walter Mondale and a daughter of his one-time running mate, Geraldine Ferraro.
“I was one of the few to come out of Brown as a conservative Republican,” Harrison said, laughing.
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