Besides their three House seats- one vacant and a Democratic held, but vulnerable seat- West Virginia has an open Democratic Senate seat up for grabs this year. There are three Republicans in the mix for that Senate seat- Larry Butcher, who was a 2006 state senate candidate, Matthew Dodrill, a candidate for Wood County assessor in 2012, and 2nd District Congresswoman Shelley Moore-Capito. In reality, this has always been a one-horse race with Moore-Capito the main horse.
Considered a moderate Republican leader in the House by GovTrack, her stances on issues as well as her voting record in the House also indicates moderation. The seat in West Virginia figures prominently in the GOP’s plans to win control of the Senate and she announced her candidacy before Rockefeller announced his retirement. Given the importance of this race, some of the more conservative voices out there need to bite the bullet here. The chances for taking this seat is very high. Therefore, the best choice is Shelley Moore-Capito for the GOP nod in the West Virginia senatorial race. In most polls, she regularly outperforms the likely Democratic candidate, Natalie Tennant. Regardless, West Virginia’s drift to red status is not as deep as some would have one believe. After all, their state senate and lower house as well as the Governor’s mansion are controlled by the Democratic Party. Granted, it may be a more moderate form of the Democratic creature, but Democratic nevertheless. And as the Manchin victory in a previous Senate race proves, West Virginia will not vote in a knee-jerk fashion for just any Republican.
Since she is running for the Senate seat, it creates a vacancy in her district. Although all West Virginia districts are Republican, the 2nd is perhaps the weakest of the three which may explain Capito’s somewhat moderate stances in certain areas, especially the social issues. Cook rates this district +11 Republican; I rate it slightly higher at +17. There are seven Republican candidates. Some pundits consider ex-International Trade Commissioner Charlotte Lane the best fit for this district. Another possibility is Alex Mooney, a former congressional aid and Maryland transplant who actually headed that state’s GOP at one time. Thus, he has political experience and connections and that may prove a problem. He may be portrayed as a political opportunist and “carpetbagger” as this will be the third state (New Hampshire was the other) where he held or tried for political office. Therefore, my choice comes down to Ron Walters who would breathe some fresh and youthful life into the GOP, although admittedly he may be a long shot. Keep in mind, however, that this is an endorsement, not a prediction.
There are no GOP primaries in the First District where Republican incumbent David McKinley seeks reelection. In the Third District, perhaps the most Republican of the three, Democratic incumbent Nick Rahall is targeted every year by the GOP, but he seems to pull out a victory. Given the political dynamics in West Virginia and their drift towards red status- especially as concerns federal office- Rahall’s days may be numbered. Republican Evan Jenkins faces no primary opposition.
To reiterate: Shelly Moore-Capito for Senate and Ron Walters in the 2nd District House race.