W.Va. Candidate Admits 150 Arrests
Feb. 08, 2000
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) _ Gubernatorial candidate Joseph Oliverio beat his detractors to the punch Monday and announced he's been arrested 150 times for fighting.
He's also received 60 speeding tickets, has ``inhaled,'' at times abused alcohol and lost his driver's license for a while but got it back in 1998, he said.
``I just feel it's made me a stronger person. These guys want to make it out like I'm some real bad individual,'' the 43-year-old said.
Oliverio, one of four Republicans challenging Gov. Cecil Underwood in the state's GOP primary on May 9, said he decided to make the announcement after receiving anonymous phone calls from someone threatening to reveal his past. He said the caller claimed to be from a rival campaign.
``Nobody threatens me,'' Oliverio said.
``I don't feel I have anything to hide. I may be embarrassed by some of the stuff I have done. I've never done anything terrible. I never raped. I never murdered. I never had children out of wedlock. I've been married for 20 years,'' he said.
Rod Blackstone, Underwood's spokesman, said the governor is running on his record of ``accomplishments and achievements of moving West Virginia into the 21st century.''
``If other candidates want to run on other records, that's up to them,'' Blackstone said.
Most of Oliverio's fights were from the 5-foot-8 painting contractor's younger years, and usually, someone else was the instigator, he said.
He said all the charges were misdemeanors and he never spent a day in jail. ``In West Virginia it's usually easier to pay a fine,'' he said.
Oliverio said he stopped drinking excessively and fighting about seven years ago and hasn't been arrested since then.
West Virginia Republican Party chairman David Tyson said campaigns should focus on issues rather than personal attacks.
``I think that personal attacks are never very helpful but an individual's past record is a public document. I think it's good that Mr. Oliverio is choosing to address those things that are being raised,'' Tyson said.