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West Virginia Democrat Tries to Turn Tables on Senate Foe

With Romney set to stump for Capito, charges of hypocrisy fly in Mountain State.

by
Rob Longley

Bio

August 17, 2014 - 11:56 am
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Graham points out that in 2012, Romney beat Obama in West Virginia by a hefty margin, winning all 55 of the state’s counties.

“There are no doubts in the minds of West Virginians that Obama is to blame for the war being waged on West Virginia coal,” she said.

Graham did not, however, specifically address the questions Tennant’s camp raised about Romney’s record on coal.

Tennant At Disadvantage

There are differences between the two campaigns’ use of Warren and Romney to score points and label each other a hypocrite. In addition to coal, for instance, the Capito campaign also sought to link Tennant to Warren’s more-liberal positions on the Second Amendment and Obamacare, among others.

Tennant’s campaign, on the other hand, zeroed in solely on Romney’s coal stance.

The different approaches highlight one of the biggest challenges for Tennant, who, for the record, supports the Second Amendment and largely opposes Obamacare in its present form. Most of the national Democratic Party’s positions — from guns and health care, to the environment and abortion — don’t go over well in West Virginia. That means Capito can target Tennant on those issues, regardless of her personal position, analysts say.

The national GOP’s policies, though, fare much better in the Mountain State, leaving Tennant with far less to work with when trying to tie Capito to a national surrogate like Romney. Obama’s unpopularity in West Virginia, and the state’s rightward tilt in recent elections, is the main reason Tennant has trailed Capito throughout the campaign, analysts say. But the deficit, while not tiny, isn’t insurmountable. Capito’s lead is currently at about 9 points in most polls, and with nearly three months before the election, Tennant could still make a move.

Romney Could Deliver Conservative Democrats

Stephen Farnsworth, a political science professor at the University of Mary Washington, said the dust-up over Romney’s past position on coal isn’t likely to hurt Capito. For one thing, it’s no surprise that Romney, as a matter of political pragmatism, would oppose coal-polluting plants in the Bay State.

“You can’t be pro-coal and win in Massachusetts,” Farnsworth said.

And whatever West Virginians think about Romney and his past position on coal doesn’t outweigh the potential votes he could help deliver to Capito.

“Mitt Romney is more popular now than when he was a candidate for president,” he said. “He speaks to that moderate cross section of voters — the conservative Democrats and independents — that Capito needs to win. In that sense, he could be very valuable.”

Indeed, West Virginia’s registered Democrats far outnumber Republicans in the state, even as the state has voted increasingly for GOP candidates in recent years. To win in November, Capito, therefore, needs to appeal to those centrist Democrats. And with her consistent lead in the polls, it appears Capito, for now at least, is doing just that.

“At this point,” Farnsworth said, “this isn’t a particularly close race.”

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Rob Longley is a freelance writer based in Staunton, Va. He has covered politics in Connecticut, New York, Florida and Virginia for more than 20 years. He can be reached via email at roblongley1@gmail.com.
All Comments   (7)
All Comments   (7)
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As a WV resident I know that Shellie Moore Capito is going to have to be fairly stupid to lose my vote. Inviting Romney to speak isn't going to bother me at all. I kind of like him on a personal level even if I think he's a blue state centrist Republican politically speaking. With Romney's predictions about world events seeming quite accurate now, I think he brings more credit than smear by comming to speak for her. Fauxcahontus on the other hand garners no respect from me. Tennant can't show yourself to be more in lockstep with the current administration than to bring that person as her support to WV, save having the POTUS himself provide his "ringing deathnell" endorsement in your favor.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
The antidote to Redskin Warren isn't Romney, it's Sarah Palin or Ted Cruz, or any charismatic person who is willing to rag on Obama.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
Tennant is dumb as a post and clutching at straws (simile/metaphor combo = 500 pts)
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
He didn't say that coal kills anybody, but that a plant would (or did).

Bad plant = bad air. See "China."

Good plant = fine air. See West Virginia
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
WV voters need to remember that a vote for Tennant is a vote to keep the Senate in Democratic hands. Rattlesnake Reid would still be making the rules and scheduling votes, and would be in lockstep with the supreme coal-killer, obama. The leaders of the coal workers union did a great disservice in endorsing obama in '08. Everyone needs to start thinking for themselves. Stop believing what the mainstream media shovels out to you.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
Note to Capito's camp: You should get Romney to admit he was wrong about the coal issue. Use this as an opportunity to announce he embraces all forms of US fuel production: coal, nuclear, gas, oil, etc. and that he also supports fuel exports.

You want to drive an economic boom - the US energy sector is where to do it.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
What's changed about Romney?

Romney was a progressive in 2008 and in 2012. Of course he's still a progressive. He's a more competent person than the Marxist progressives who own the Democratic party, which just means that he moves their agenda forward faster, ala Romney-care. You can bet the farm that if he was president, obamacare would be humming like a top, and killing thousands more people than it is today.

Unfortunately, he has the second best chance of being the next POTUS.

We are SOOOO screwed.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
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