This morning, West Virginia’s Republican senatorial candidate John Raese spoke with bloggers in a conference call about his recent polling numbers and his campaign’s plans for the last few weeks before the November election.
As Jay Cost wrote this morning, even though yesterday’s PPP poll puts Raese ahead of popular Democratic governor Joe Manchin by three points, the Democrats still have an advantage on the state level in West Virginia; since World War II the state’s electorate has had a penchant for voting for Democrats at the state and local levels. But Raese said “that flavor has changed.”
“The issue isn’t so much Republican versus Democrat, but conservative versus liberal,” he said, pointing out that George W. Bush won West Virginia twice even as it sent Robert Byrd and Jay Rockefeller to the Senate term after term. Raese says the state is very conservative, and he will be working to inform West Virginians that Manchin would be a “rubber stamp” for President Obama’s policies.
Here’s a Raese ad from last month, which hits this point about Obama’s agenda without even mentioning Manchin’s name:
This is Raese’s main line of attack, and it could be part of the reason why he has risen the polls against Manchin, who has the approval of over three quarters of West Virginians. President Obama, by contrast, is very unpopular in the state, which only gave him 43 percent of the vote in 2008 and where he maintains a 67 percent disapproval rating. Raese said he will be emphasizing unpopular parts of the Democratic agenda, like Obamacare, cap and trade, and the stimulus. The governor has voiced support for both Obama and the health care overhaul.
Asked about the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s endorsement of Manchin, Raese dismissed it as “political.”
“I’ve been endorsed straight across the board by the Tea Party groups [in West Virginia],” Raese said. “I’ll take those endorsements.”
UPDATE: Manchin spokeswoman Sara Payne Scarbro emails a response: "Joe Manchin is not a yes man for anyone...He is a proven, independent leader, who is well-known for his ability to bring all sides together – Democrats, Republicans, business and labor - to do what is right for West Virginia."
Scarbro also says that Governor Manchin has been "very clear" in his opposition to cap-and-trade.