Congressman “Cleve” Bailey was born in Pleasants County on July 15, 1886. Early in his career, he was a teacher, school administrator, and newspaper editor in Clarksburg. He got his start in politics as a Clarksburg city councilman.
The Democrat then served in West Virginia state government as assistant auditor and budget director. He was first elected to Congress in 1944 after defeating Republican Edward Rohrbough. Two years later, Bailey lost his re-election to Rohrbough but took the seat back in 1948. A New Deal liberal, Bailey fought to protect West Virginia industries and workers, especially from foreign competition. He also pressed for increased federal support for education.
The 1960 census revealed that West Virginia had lost nearly 150,000 people in a decade. As a result, the state lost a seat in the House of Representatives. In 1962, Bailey was forced to run against popular three-term incumbent congressman Arch Moore, who defeated him handily and ended Bailey’s eight-term congressional career.
Cleve Bailey died in Charleston in 1965, just before his 79th birthday. He’s the only congressman honored with a bust in the West Virginia State Capitol.