The next senator from West Virginia will be a woman, a first for the state. Republican congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito and Democratic secretary of state Natalie Tennant are projected to win their parties' respective primaries.
Both Capito and Tennant are running to succeed the retiring Democrat Jay Rockefeller. Capito is favored to win the seat, having lead Tennant in every poll since last year. Here's more on Capito's chances, from a recent issue of THE WEEKLY STANDARD:
Capito may be underwhelming on the stump, but her chances of becoming the first Republican senator from West Virginia since 1959 look better than good. When they talk about their most likely Senate pickups in 2014, Republican strategists in Washington put West Virginia at the top of the list. The incumbent, Democrat Jay Rockefeller, announced early last year that he would be retiring. Democrats recruited Natalie Tennant, the secretary of state and a competent candidate, to run against Capito. But the latest polls show Capito ahead by double digits. Capito’s winning despite some objections from conservatives in her own party.
On fiscal and spending issues, Capito is a bona fide moderate, and the recent small-government, Tea Party trend of the GOP hasn’t reached West Virginia. She told the National Journal in January that one of her models is Alaska senator Lisa Murkowski, the quintessential Republican centrist. Capito and her fellow West Virginia Republican House member David McKinley get middling to dismal ratings from conservative groups like the American Conservative Union, the National Taxpayers Union, and Heritage Action. When Capito announced her Senate candidacy in November 2012, the Club for Growth issued a stinging memo denouncing the many federal spending projects she had supported over the years.
“Congresswoman Capito has a long record of support of bailouts, pork, and bigger government,” wrote Club president Chris Chocola. “She voted to bail out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, for massive expansions of government-run health insurance, giveaways to big labor, and repeatedly voted to continue funding for wasteful earmarks like an Exploratorium in San Francisco and an Aquarium in South Carolina.”
When I ask her about the spending record in an interview in Ripley, she straightens up in her chair and leans forward, lowering her voice. “I was sent to Congress to represent 650,000 West Virginians,” she says. “I live in one of the states that is one of the most economically challenged states in the country. The only way to get our children out of poverty is to get them educated and healthy.” Expanding the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, for instance, is a vote she’d “defend all the way down the line.” And in her defense, Capito’s been a consistent supporter of the Paul Ryan budget.