W.Va. Gov. Joe Manchin launches Senate campaign; Capito on deck
By Aaron Blake
West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) announced Tuesday that he will run in the newly created special election for the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd's (D-W.Va.) Senate seat. Now all eyes or on Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.).
A little more than 12 hours after signing the special election change into law, Manchin confirmed that he will seek the final two years of Byrd's term. He enters the race as the odds-on favorite, regardless of who Republicans nominate.
Despite indicating early on that he was likely to run for the seat, Manchin said at a news conference that he labored over the decision. Winning would require him to yield the final two years of his second and final term as governor.
"This is one of the toughest decisions I've ever made," Manchin said. "I've always had a desire to serve at the highest level."
The spin wars between the two national campaign committees began almost immediately.
Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (N.J.) praised Manchin's "record of job-creation and fiscal responsibility; the National Republican Senatorial Committee hammered Manchin for breaking his pledge to serve out his gubernatorial term.
After much wrangling through the weekend, state legislators agreed to a compromise special election bill late Monday. Republicans, who are in the minority in the chamber, won a key concession allowing Capito, the party's favored potential Senate candidate, to run at the same time in both the special election and for reelection in her 2nd district House district.
Such a setup makes it much more likely that she will seek the upper chamber, but a Capito spokesman said she will not announce her plans today but certainly made it sound as though she is running.
"Congresswoman Capito will announce her decision soon after determining how she can best continue to serve West Virginia on important issues like protecting the state's vital energy industry, where she has been the loudest and sometimes only critic of the Obama administration's assault on coal," Capito spokesman Kent Gates said.
Candidates were allowed to file for the special election starting at 8:30 a.m., and the shortened window for the November special election means the pressure is on Capito to make a decision in short order.
Even if Capito runs, the very popular Manchin enters the race as the favorite. Recent polls have pegged his approval rating in the 70s, and the governor has taken care over the years to establish his independence from the national Democratic Party in several ways. (He is a favorite of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce, for example.)
But Capito comes from a well-known West Virginia political family (her father was a three-term governor), and she's got a $500,000 head start on Manchin thanks to the funds already in her House campaign committee.
With President Obama highly unpopular in West Virginia, Republicans have already begun attaching the governor to the president and the national Democratic agenda on issues such as cap and trade -- a very unpopular proposition in coal-reliant West Virginia.
Manchin said in a subsequent interview with radio host Hoppy Kercheval -- the king of West Virginia politics -- that he has lined up the "unequivocal" support of both the Chamber of Commerce and major labor groups, which have both been his allies in the past.
Speaking to Kercheval, Manchin acknowledged that he "probably will" be at odds with national Democrats on many issues.
Capito has taken aim at Manchin for the confusion over when the special election would be held, accusing him of molding the race to suit his political aspirations. Democratic leaders in the state disagreed about when the law allowed for a special election, and Manchin eventually lobbied to have it in 2010 rather than 2012.
"It is apparent that many elected officials, and particularly the person ultimately charged with calling a special election, have been more focused on political maneuvers to further their own political ambitions before fulfilling the obligations of their office on behalf of the people they were elected to serve," Capito said when Manchin temporarily appointed former aide Carte Goodwin to the seat last week.
Goodwin will serve until November, when the winner of the special election will assume the seat.
The primaries will be held Aug. 28, with the winners meeting on regular Election Day, Nov. 2.
July 20, 2010; 11:09 AM ET
Save & Share: Previous: Democrats retake lead in generic ballot
Next: Lindsey Graham's vote on Elena Kagan ensures primary challenge
Posted by: wvmet | July 21, 2010 1:07 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: drindl | July 20, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: farmsnorton | July 20, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: margaretmeyers | July 20, 2010 3:27 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Dead_and_Barryd | July 20, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: newbeeboy | July 20, 2010 3:07 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: hfed | July 20, 2010 3:03 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: YouCanPostThis | July 20, 2010 2:38 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: bsimon1 | July 20, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: mark_in_austin | July 20, 2010 1:24 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: KJR1 | July 20, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: TheBabeNemo | July 20, 2010 1:06 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: DDAWD | July 20, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: AndyR3 | July 20, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: reason5 | July 20, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: AndyR3 | July 20, 2010 12:31 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: juanchin | July 20, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: slim2 | July 20, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: AndyR3 | July 20, 2010 12:20 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: koolkat_1960 | July 20, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: bsimon1 | July 20, 2010 12:07 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: jeremybozz | July 20, 2010 12:07 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | July 20, 2010 12:00 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.