Last November, West Virginia Republican 2nd District Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito announced she’s running in 2014 for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Jay Rockefeller.
Capito is the most successful and high-profile Republican in the state right now, so the talk instantly turned to a Rockefeller-Capito matchup.
But another leading West Virginia Republican, 1st District Congressman David McKinley, is not yet on the Capito bandwagon.
In fact, McKinley is even leaving the door open to the possibility of running for the Senate seat himself, saying that a number of people have approached him about the Senate race.
“I have told them I am… watching to see what happens with Shelley, how well she continues to maintain a fiscal policy that is good for this country,” McKinley told me on Metronews “Talkline” Thursday.
The two-term Congressman says the primary reason he went to Washington was to try to get federal spending under control. The next fight is quickly approaching, when Congress will have to decide whether to raise the debt ceiling.
McKinley says he supports the “Boehner Rule,” named for House Majority Leader John Boehner, that calls for cutting one dollar in spending for every dollar increase in the debt ceiling.
One McKinley supporter said he would be shocked if McKinley actually challenged Capito in the Primary Election rather his goal may be to hold Capito’s feet to the fire when it comes time to cut spending.
It’s worth noting that when Congressman Paul Ryan’s budget reduction plan was up for a vote in 2011, McKinley was one of just ten Republicans to vote against it. He said he voted no because he didn’t like the plan’s overhaul of Medicare and his vote reflected the views of his constituents.
Still, that has not stopped McKinley from playing the budget hawk role now and putting pressure on Capito.
“If she is not going to be that fiscal hawk that is going to make sure that we get our spending under control, then we’ll find another candidate,” McKinley told me Thursday.
Capito is said to be mystified by McKinley’s comments. A source says Capito talked with McKinley several times last year about her Senate run and believed she had his full support.
A Capito-McKinley Primary race for the Senate in 2014, although highly unlikely, would be a circular firing squad for the Republican Party. The GOP would forfeit two incumbent Congressional seats and then, after a bruising Primary campaign, quite possibly lose the General Election to Rockefeller.
Historically, Capito and McKinley have had a good working relationship, and they still can. However, it’s evident now that higher political aspirations can put a strain on that.