CHARLESTON, W.Va. — After coasting through the Democratic primary, Natalie Tennant now embarks upon the hard part: Winning a U.S. Senate seat her party has held for more than five decades against deeper-financed Republican challenger Shelley Moore Capito.

SENATE RESULTS: Updated voting results

Tennant, West Virginia’s secretary of state, easily captured the nomination Tuesday over Williamstown school psychologist David Wamsley and Buckhannon’s Dennis Melton and immediately challenged Capito to five televised debates between now and November.

Capito, the seven-term U.S. Congresswoman, held a large lead in the Republican primary over Parkersburg businessman Matthew Dodrill and Air Force veteran Larry Eugene Butcher.

By 8 p.m. Tuesday night, MetroNews was projecting Tennant and Capito would face off in November’s general election, vying to replace the retiring Jay Rockefeller, a seat national analysts suspect is ripe for GOP pickup.

“I want the race to be about the issues that are important to to West Virginia families—that’s jobs, the economy, our way of life in West Virginia, health care,” Capito told MetroNews. “We are under fire here in West Virginia. I think people are discouraged and I think I, with my proven record, have a voice that can go to the United States Senate and be strong.”

“This race is not about me.  It’s not about Congresswoman Capito,” Tennant said.  “It’s about the people of West Virginia and how they want to shape the future of the state.”

By the point Democratic party leaders enticed the 46-year-old Tennant to run for Senate last September, after a handful of potential candidates declined, Capito had nearly a year’s head start in the race.

“Shelley’s been running for years and Natalie just started running in the past year, so there’s a big, big difference,” conceded Democratic Party state chairman Larry Puccio.

There’s also a wide gap in fundraising, with Capito’s $4.3 million roughly quadrupling what Tennant has on hand. A late-April DMF Research poll showed Capito leading 46 to 36 percent in a potential general election face-off.

Party leaders are hopeful Tennant can outperform contributions—and prevent Capito from poaching Democratic votes—by playing up the Washington outsider angle. Tennant was elected secretary of state in 2008 and 2012 with an unsuccessful bid for governor in between.

“Natalie has always done extremely well in West Virginia with no money being in her campaigns,” Puccio said.”Natalie’s a very sellable product. She loves to get out shake hands, talk to people and touch people.

“Natalie just needs to continue to be Natalie Tennant—the Natalie Tennant that was the Mountaineer (mascot) at WVU, the Natalie Tennant that gets out and is at the fire hall on a Thursday night talking to you and hearing what your concerns are.”

Though registered Democrats remain a majority in the state, anti-Obama sentiment is so strong the president has become somewhat of a common adversary for Tennant and Capito, particularly in regard to his stance on stricter regulation of coal-fired power plants.

While Tennant has been lukewarm about her feelings on the Affordable Care Act, Capito cited a need to overhaul it. On Tuesday night she said business owners in the state have reported their premiums rising by 10 to 30 percent.

“People are losing their doctors, their deductibles are higher, they’re losing their ability to make choices,” Capito said.

“This healthcare bill is not working for West Virginia. I want to get to the Senate to repair it—if it can be repaired—until we can replace it.”

Tennant, in speaking to MetroNews late Tuesday night, reiterated her challenge for a series of debates with Capito.

“I’m proud of my record and I’m proud of my vision, and I’ll stand up to defend it anytime and anywhere,” Tennant said. “That’s what should be expected of us as candidates.”

Repeating her characterization of Capito as beholden to Wall Street backers, Tennant said: “Congresswoman Capito represents Washington and has been part of the problem in Washington.”

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  • Kim Walker

    Shelly Moore Capito met with Patriot Coal and DID NOT stand up for the current coal miner's pension and instead agreed with Patriot Coal that the miners were just going to have to give up their benefits so the mine could stay profitable! HOW is that a friend of coal?

    Example number 2: Shelly Moore Capito voted 41 times AGAINST a bill that would make it easier for coal miners with black lung get their benefits. How is that a friend of coal? Just because you're a sexist jerk, learn the facts!!!!!

  • Dusty Evans

    This democrat weirdo went so far as to force WVU to make her the school Mountaineer, and make this state a national joke. I was a student at the time and she made us all sick with her bi-sexual activities. When she hit the games dressed in buckskins - pretending to be a man - she was booed by the entire crowd. Another Obamma clone.

  • Pretender

    It seems to me that Hoppy is NT's biggest fan.
    It's vey obvious in his tone when talking to both candidates. It goes way back!
    I've a question. Who will become SOS if NT were to win?? I know it's a BIG pipe dream just curious. Tired of SOS position being a stepping stone & Democrats not being held to same standards as others. They may jump whenever a more attractive position is open!

  • Gary

    We don't need another Obama puppet like Rockefeller and Manchin. Luke warm on obamacare. Tennant supported it.

  • rick

    Hey...let's get us a good old Republican House and Senate....history proves how well that has always worked out for the is already that way now...they have the House and have to get 60 votes in the well is that working now?

  • wvman75

    I was proud to do my civic duty. Go Shelley. Can't wait for November.

  • JimmyJoeBobRoy Jr.

    Not a huge fan of Capito but I want a Republican controlled Senate. She'll get my vote again in Nov.

  • Moose

    Washington political pundits say Shelley Moore Capito is the favorite to win in November. As of this moment, I agree with their analysis. However, many West Virginians have yet to find out about the Capito record. This is a woman who says one thing in West Virginia and does another in Washington. There's a simple strategy to win this race... Capito has gone Washington! Really, what has she done for our state? Not a darn thing. She claims to be the savior of the new Route 35, but unfortunately its incomplete and her leadership is lacking. Most importantly, Capito has a voting record and when you look at her 55 votes (at last count) to take health care insurance away from children with autism, leukemia, diabetes and even from NEW BORNS it becomes quite clear this woman has little interest in protecting West Virginians. She voted 55 times to take health care insurance from pregnant women, women with breast cancer, black lung victims and people with preexisting conditions. Simply put, she turned her back on Americans! She may profess love for America, but she despises Americans. Her vote against the equal pay amendment speaks volumes. Her vote signals her belief that women are not as hard working as men. How about this... cut her pay to half of her male colleagues. Better yet, put members of congress on the minimum wage which she also opposes raising. Her congressional pension is in the millions. How many West Virginians have a million dollar pension? Its time to shine the light on this fact and its time for congressional pension reform. Most importantly, she does not give a hoot about the health and well-being of West Virginians. She cares more about the South Hills Happy Swell Meadows crowd than any family living in the hills of West Virginia.

    • Pretender

      What an absurd commentary! I think you need to double check her voting. Firstly you may thank her and Pres. Bush for saving the air guard few yrs. ago when Tackett and others were taking credit for it all. I recall her voting against the '08 Tarp that Bush pushed for to help Obama. The new bridges and road completions on her watch is amazing!! My problem is she's much too modest and lets others state falsehoods and never responds to any of the other politicians outlandish remarks. Btw, NT has been a Mascot- WOW
      and as SOS what are her accomplishments?
      NT doesn't even list her address like someone yrs. ago always used a post office box in Sophia WV and had a home in VA. Typical !! NT is SOS and is jumping ship BUT not to worry WHEN she loses she'll still be paid and continue as SOS!! She follows the likes of Rockefeller and others. Use THAT stepping stone.

    • Big Bob-E

      It doesn't matter...Rocky was right when he said Obama was the wrong color for some voters...he was speaking directly to the people of West Virginia...just read the responses to the majority of those who post on this rag...they'll tell you what's on their mind...if you pay attention. Capitol in a white-out!!!

    • PhotoBoothe

      Well said. The RepubliCON agenda does nothing for the people of West Virginia - or any other state!

      • robert thomas

        the democrats have controlled wv for 80 has that worked out.last or next to last in everything.

        wake up people.time to change

  • David

    Her support for Obamacare is more than lukewarm ?


    More contempt

  • David

    Natalie Tennant thinks you're all racists just like J Rockefeller does.....

    Nothing but contempt for hard working West Virginians.

    • truth checker

      Capito is happy that most hillbillies are racists; that is what keeps her in office.

      • robert thomas

        you catch a whole lot more flies with sugar than you do with vinegar so keep slinging the negatives and see how far that gets you.