CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Political prognosticators with Sabato’s Crystal Ball moved West Virginia’s U.S. Senate race from likely Republican to leaning Republican following Secretary of State Natalie Tennant’s entry into the race.

“She must think she can win and, I think, the national Democrats think she can win too,” said Kyle Kondik, managing editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball which is a political forecast that originates at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics.

Tennant announced her plans to seek the Democratic nomination on Tuesday.  If she is nominated in the May Primary Election, she will likely face Republican Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito in the November General Election.

“Natalie Tennant is, I think, a pretty decent challenger to Capito,” said Kondik on Tuesday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”

A Republican has not won a U.S. Senate seat in West Virginia since the 1950s, but Kondik said the times are changing in West Virginia and Capito has the edge in the U.S. Senate race, at least early on in the election process.

The seat is opening up with the retirement of U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller.  He was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1984.

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  • Dave Rao

    This race will be ferocious. It won't be the candidates in a cat fight, but the surrogatti.

  • Jim

    Let's keep this election clean and let the candidates run on their record

    If you have paid any attention you will find Tennant is not a liberal

    Also just returned money to budget

  • Magic Mike

    Tennant will agree with Obama on guns just like Manchin has.

  • JJ

    Let the democrat party line open up to cry about WVRC, republican pollster, etc bias in daring to show that a few WVians are tired of the one party system that's controlled this state for over 100 years. Funny thing is, I actually like Natalie, I've heard her speak and spoken to her personally several times. That said:

    Let's hear the straight ticketers prattle on about another WV democrat who'll make conservative promises here and turn liberal lapdog in DC. And the guv'munt check imbeciles of WV will put her there, as usual.

  • Butch

    Natalie is going to beat Capito. She works harder and isn't a snob.

  • Jt

    Now we have a legitimate race.

    • Larry

      Nah, not really, Capito will win.