Once upon a time, not that many years ago, West Virginia Democratic politicians had it pretty easy; Senator Byrd was at the top of the ticket, the Democratic Presidential candidate would always carry the state and three out of every five voters were Democrats.

Today, with the national Democratic Party moving farther to the left, Barack Obama in the White House and declining Democratic voter registration in West Virginia, Democrats running for federal office here try to thread a narrow needle.  They carefully parse how being a West Virginia Democrat is different from being a Washington Democrat.

Senator Joe Manchin has done it successfully for two elections, as has Governor Earl Ray Tomblin.  West Virginia 3rd District Congressman Nick Rahall managed it in 2012 and will try to do it again in 2014.  Nick Casey is trying to find that happy place in his race for the 2nd District Congressional seat.

And based on comments during her announcement yesterday, Natalie Tennant may try to do the same in her run for the Democratic nomination to the U.S. Senate.

“Let me be clear right here, right now,” said Tennant in Beckley.  “I disagree with the Obama administration’s policies on coal.”

On Obamacare, Tennant said, according to the AP, that there are parts of the Affordable Care Act that need to be fixed and others that need to be kept.

Those two issues, more than any other, define the new Democratic politician in West Virginia.   It’s too early to tell whether Tennant can grab and maintain the middle ground as well as Manchin and Tomblin, as she enters the race against Republican Shelley Moore Capito.

As with any middle position, it’s hard to keep your balance. Capito, the National Republican Party and independent organizations will try to knock Tennant off center by defining her as an Obama liberal.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee issued a release yesterday calling Tennant “too liberal for West Virginia.”   Capito campaign manager Chris Hansen said, “Harry Reid and the liberal D.C. Democrats handpicked Natalie Tennant to be their nominee.”

Tennant’s challenge is to define herself before her opponents do, and that’s tough when you have to begin by explaining what you are not.  Consider the lead sentence of the AP’s article on Tennant’s announcement:

“West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant kicked off her bid for the U.S. Senate on Tuesday by distancing herself from the Obama Administration’s policies on coal, hoping to blunt one of the Republican Party’s main lines of attack in a state that’s heavily dependent on the coal industry,” the AP wrote.

This is the new balance of the Democratic Party in West Virginia, one that irritates liberals who distress at their own candidates’ umbrage with Obama, but provides a proven pathway to Election Day success.

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  • Mark

    Former news reader and mascot. Yep she is well qualified.

  • wvtd

    do we as a nation really need more liberals in d.c. at this time in our nations history?

    if you are like me and I know i am these pasts few years our leaders in Washington have done nothing to really help the middle class stay middle class or help the poor rise up to middle class. they have added a lot of new taxes, gave themselves raises and exemptions from obamacare.

    only the wealthy are better off now than in 2008.
    a new health care tax is a drop in the bucket to them.

  • kensgirl

    From ballotpedia.org:

    "The Center for Public Integrity reported in September 2008 that Natalie Tennant received both the endorsement and financial assistance from the Secretary of State Project, a below-the-radar 527 political organization whose purpose is to “wrestling control of the country from the Republican Party” through the process of “removing their political operatives from deciding who can vote and whose votes will count,” namely the office of Secretary of
    State in many cases."

    The SOS Project is a George Soros funded organization.

    From the Secretary of State Project website:

    "Since we launched in the fall of 2005, we have engaged in eleven races and have backed the winning candidate in nine states, including: Ohio, Minnesota, Iowa, Oregon, New Mexico, Montana, Nevada, West Virginia and Missouri. We lost only in Michigan and Colorado (and there by a tiny margin)."

    George Soros ... now THERE'S a guy who represents West Virginia's values and best interest!

    • Wowbagger

      George Soros, Hippie's hero (or maybe part time employer)!

  • Medman

    As usual, many comments here are over the line and exaggerate the facts beyond belief. Both Tennant and Caputo are respected ladies who may be two of the best possible candidates we could have for the Senate seat. Attacking them personally is not only nonsense, but reflects the lack of decency for the nuts who make these hateful posts. We need to let them debate the issues and explain their view of the future of WV and how they see their role if elected. Please calm down and quit this pathetic, childish bickering.

  • FungoJoe

    Tennant==fence rider.
    "On Obamacare, Tennant said, according to the AP, that there are parts of the Affordable Care Act that need to be fixed and others that need to be kept."
    Typical liberal leftist. They tell you what they think you want to hear.
    Who is Natalie Tennant?? Just look at the group of liberal leftists that were in the background in the pictures when she made her announcements. That was clue enough for me as to WHO Natalie Tennant is.

  • Fentanyl Bomb

    I will try and not get fully vested in this matchup until I see the final fightcard.

    Remember, there are quite a few Rupublicans that do not consider SMC ideologically pure enough and may harm her in the primary.

    The Club for Growth and a few others are grumbling that she is a bit too Establishment for their tastes.

    That would seal the deal for a Tennant win.

    • Retired COB

      I'm one of those who consider Shelly a 'Republican Lite' or RINO if you prefer. She'll win, but I really wish we had a strong conservative to vote for.

      The Democrats could have won this one if they would have run a pro-life Democrat. That would have moved a lot of pro-life Republicans like myself over to their column.

      • Fentanyl Bomb

        You are not alone. This will be a highly contested race for the middle.

        Wedge issues like abortion and guns will play prominently, but the bulk of voters will be swayed by issues that resonate closer to home.

  • Bill

    I like Tennant, however I will not vote for her! In my life time there has never been a Senator from West Virginia that was not a Democrat. West Virginia needs change; we need to vote Capito for Senator.

    Tennant is already changing her tune she will say all the right things before the election to get elected, but once in office she will just be another Rockefeller or Manchin, she will find a reason to vote the party line. I don't know it Capito is the answer but it will be a start.

    What we need in all of government, are people that will put the constitution, its citizen's and the country a head of party and personal greed.

  • PMQ

    Hoppy...why do you keep pushing Tennant?? She is an EMPTY pant suit. Mental midget...she has NO chance. She is EXACTLY what we DON'T need.......

    • MTNR

      Natalie busted up election fraud in southern WV. Made it easier for deployed military to vote. Returned $3 million that her office saved back to the state. Shelley has done NOTHING since getting elected. And don't forget that Natalie got 400,000 votes in 2012 ... Shelley has her work cut out for her in the first and third districts, where voters have never seen her name on the ballot.

      • pc

        No, the FEDS, not Natalie, busted the election corruption in southern WV. She found everything o.k. Guess she returned the $3mil. to the state due to fact she was unable to perform the duties of her SOS office. Just an empty buckskin bimbo, product of her husband's PR/lobbying endeavors!

      • DonaldH

        Shelly will carry all 3

      • PMQ

        Yawn.....she is an EMPTY suit....too close to Blo Joe and Obama for me.

  • David

    Like Justice Scalia, I've decided to become a highly selective Constitutional originalist. The 2nd Amendment refers to the arms available at the time so, as a highly selective Constitutional originalist, that's how I choose to see the right to bear arms - only the arms which were available when the Constitution was ratified.

    • Jim

      Great. The Framers were aware of a machine gun. Prior to ratification of the second amendment, the Continental Congress had been offered (and turned down as too expensive) a fully automatic rifle. I guess we're good to go with anything but nukes and poison gas.

    • jawn

      The militia equipped with 18th-century weaponry
      US Senators chosen by the state legislature
      I think we're on to something

      • DonaldH

        And the 10th-- man-o-man!! we might just save this Nation yet!!

    • Robert

      so cannon, explosive rounds and 30 gun ships are back on the menu?
      oh, and no income tax, no obamacare and no EPA? you may be onto something.

  • Tag

    The only chance Tennant has is if low information voters come out en masse. It worked twice for Obama.

    • Hop'sHip

      That is why it is important to get the Faux information voters out, you know, those who get their information from Faux News.

      • Charleston,WV

        FYI: Fox News had a report from the 2010 Census on Obama’s 1st Term: Real Median Income Down $2,627; People in Poverty Up 6,667,000; Record 46,496,000 Now Poor. So based on your post, this information must be biased considering that Fox News reported. Sounds logical.

  • Griz

    My whole family hunts with an ar-15, we use a 10 rd magazine and it is a very safe and effective rifle for the kids and the little lady in my life to use to provide healthy low fat natural food for the family table. The ammo is somewhat affordable and easy to find, the telescoping stock allows the 11 year old, 15 year old and the adults to effectively and safely shoot it without the need to spend thousands of dollars on youth model rifles.
    Also, a well organized militia is not the national gaurd. The militia was your local tavern goers who saw the need to be able to answer the call with a weapon to keep the tyranny of government at bay.
    By the way, I am not a dumb in the holler redneck. I have a masters degree and am active in politics and I believe strongly in my right to own my ar-15.

  • TD

    You're on the mark Hoppy but the big thing that is never mentioned is the pass given to Republicans for their records. Capito voted for a tax break that moved jobs overseas, corporations pay an effective 33% lower tax on profits earned overseas as opposed to those earned here. Millions of US jobs lost as a result. Capito voted to create that tax break and has voted against ending twice. She also voted against the Wall Street reform bill after voting to relax the regulations that led directly to the economic crash of '07.

    With a well oiled right wing noise machine in WV, namely the WV Radio Corp, giving her a free pass while banging Dems heads with anti Obama garbage everyday, it is a tough needle to thread indeed. It will be up to Tennat to break through the noise and define Capito as she truly is, the right wing media certainly never has.

    • Natalie_Tennant_Sux

      And it will be up to Capito to show the state that Natalie Tennant is a full-blown idiot.

    • CaptainQ

      No need to worry about WVRC's GOP bias, TD. I'm sure once the Main Stream Media 'discovers' Natalie's campaign, they will crank up their own propoganda machine to try to win her the election. The MSM hates Capito for one reason only, because she's a Republican.

      It'll all even out in the end, and keep in mind, Capito still has the Right Wing Media on her side, and a big part of the RWM is, talk radio, like what's on WVRC.

  • CaptainQ

    Well Hoppy, Natalie Tennant seems to be attempting to mimic the same successful 'run away from Obama' strategy that Joe Manchin, Earl Ray Tomblin and Nick Jo Rahall employed to win their elections in 2012. Since Tennant has no previously known ties to the President, this tactic could work.

    Although it's been nearly six years since he first won the White House, the name of Obama still continues to be political 'poison' to the vast majority of WV voters with the anti-coal policies of his EPA still fresh in their minds. If somehow, Natalie can make these voters forget that she is of the same party as our sitting President, she has a chance to win. It is possible, Manchin, Tomblin and Rahall proved it last year. Nick Jo is attempting to duplicate this success next year too.

    This upcoming election cycle will be interesting to watch.

    • Wowbagger


      The longer the scharade continues the harder it will be to fool the majority of West Virginia voters!

      • CaptainQ

        Sadly Wowbagger, as each proceding election cycle has proven, WV voters are historically quite easy to fool. How do you think Rockefeller, Rahall and (until 2010) Alan Mollohan got reelected SO many times? How could anything but 'being fooled' explain the Democratic Party's dominance of the WV Senate and House in spite of the fact that the Mountain State continues to rank last or near last in EVERY national economic indicator since that's party's been in charge?

        • Wowbagger


          I, of course lived through all of this too, but I've been driving around Southern West Virginia this week and the signs in miner's yards already suggest that the times just might be changing.

          I also spend some time on the weekends hanging around various gun shops. These folks aren't stupid and have really long memories. One shop has a photo of Ole Joe with a caption I shouldn't repeat here and I strongly suspect that the owner, his dad, and his large extended family were supporters a couple of years ago. I doubt if Joe walked in the door (and he just could) the photo or caption would come down.

          1932, when the Democratic Party achieved dominance, was a very long time ago and the national party is a lot more blatant about their agenda than they were even ten years ago.

          Nothing lasts forever!

        • Hillboy

          definition of low-information voter: anyone who votes for a candidate other than the one preferred by me.

          Until the state legislature passes a law requiring voters to pass a test to determine whether they possess sufficient information to cast an "informed" vote we will have to base elections on the votes cast and accept that the people have spoken. I don't recall that the Republicans have been fielding such great candidates against Rocky, Rahall, etc.

          • Hillboy

            McCain was competitive until he made a tone-deaf response to the looming economic crisis--basically saying there was nothing to worry about.

            I do agree that there are too many people who vote for someone based on whether they like that person or not. I've seen that a few times already with people saying, "that Natalie Tennant, she seems like such a warm person."

          • CaptainQ

            Definition of low-information voter: One who blindly and loyally vote for a single political party regardless of how effective that party operates when in office.

            With THIS definition, there are people on BOTH sides of the aisle (Dem or GOP) guilty of this. I do believe we have quite a bit of EACH type of those on this MB! This is why in modern America (or WV for that matter) issues mean very little, voters are swayed as much by party loyalty and 'entertainment value' than they are hard facts. The is the main reason why Obama beat McCain in 2008, because Obama looked and sounded better on TV than 'old cogger' McCain.