CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The 2014 General Election is more than a year from now, but many people are already choosing sides when it comes to a possible U.S. Senate race between Second District Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito and Secretary of State Natalie Tennant.
Tennant, a Democrat, was in Martinsburg and Wheeling on Wednesday to wrap up a statewide announcement tour focused on her plans to run for the seat U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) has held since 1984.
In January, Rockefeller announced he would not seek reelection next year and, at that time, there were concerns the Democratic field of potential replacements would be full of strong candidates who would beat each other up in a primary election before possibly facing Capito in the general election.
George Carenbauer, a former state Democratic Party chair, said it now looks like Tennant alone will be the lead candidate alone for the Democrats in the May 13 Primary Election.
“We now have a very credible candidate who has won elective office, statewide, twice,” said Carenbauer of Tennant. He pointed out that Capito, a Republican who has represented the Second Congressional District since 2000, has won elections in only a third of the state.
Capito has a long voting record that is expected to come up during the U.S. Senate campaign, but Mike Stuart, former state Republican Party chair, said Tennant has a record as well as Secretary of State. “I think a lot of voters would say (it) is marginal at best,” said Stuart.
Stuart said another problem for Tennant is that, in the past, she has supported President Barack Obama who is not popular in West Virginia.
“I’m not going to label Natalie Tennant as a liberal or Shelley Moore Capito as a conservative. I think, let’s look at the facts on paper.” Stuart said, while some leading Democrats stayed home during the 2012 Presidential Convention, Tennant attended the event that ended with the renomination of Obama.
Carenbauer said this election is not about the President.
“All this focus about Obama just doesn’t matter,” he said. “The Senate seat is going to be for six years. Four of those years are going to be after Obama is out of office and so we need to really look at who is going to represent West Virginia well in the United States Senate over that whole six year period.”
Both Carenbauer and Stuart were guests on Wednesday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”
Primary Election Day in West Virginia is Tuesday, May 13.