Natalie Tennant’s campaign for the U.S. Senate wants to use the government shutdown to try to make headway against opponent Shelley Moore Capito.
Capito, a Republican member of the House of Representatives, leads Tennant in a recent Public Policy Poll by 50 percent to 36 percent. However, the Tennant campaign is more interested in poll numbers for Congressional Republicans following the government shutdown than the head-to-head match-up at this point.
Most polls show Americans upset with both parties over the partial shutdown, but Republicans get more of the blame. For example, a Wall Street Journal poll found 53 percent believe the Republicans were responsible, while the next highest percentage of blame, 31 percent, went to President Obama.
The Tennant campaign is trying to make some of the fallout stick to Capito, and she is getting some help from the national party.
The Democratic Senate Campaign Committee is charging in a release this morning that the shutdown cost the West Virginia economy $104 million, according to data from Moody’s Analytics. “Congresswoman Capito left West Virginians to pay the price for her recklessness and irresponsibility and they will hold her accountable in 2014,” said DSCC spokesman Justin Barasky.
The shutdown has cost Republicans in other states. A Public Policy Poll last month found that Republicans in key Senate races lost ground to Democratic opponents when voters were told where the candidates stood on the shutdown.
Notably, PPP’s Tom Jensen tells me they did not poll the Capito-Tennant race because Capito has a double-digit lead.
So, how will Capito respond? So far she hasn’t, declining to take the bait when I asked her during an appearance last week on Talkline for her reaction to a Tennant news release criticizing her on the shutdown.
Capito’s campaign knows the best strategy, at least when you have a substantial lead, is to ignore the opponent. A Capito insider said, “She’s keeping her head down and doing her job.”
It would be easier for Tennant to draw Capito out if she, or the DSCC, went to the airwaves with political ads, but it’s awfully early for that and Tennant is just getting her fundraising off the ground.
Tennant did raise more than $150,000 in the two weeks following the announcement of her candidacy, but Capito raised $777,500 in the third quarter and has $3.2 million on hand.
Senators Rockefeller and Joe Manchin, along with Congressman Nick Rahall, are holding a fundraiser for Tennant at Rockefeller’s Washington, D.C. home Nov. 20th. The suggested contribution levels range from $1,000 to $5,000.