Capito, Capito, Moore and Justice

Republican Gubernatorial candidate Moore Capito has endorsed current Governor Jim Justice for U.S. Senate. Capito made the announcement on Talkline Wednesday, saying Justice has been a successful Governor and he is the best qualified to represent the state in the U.S. Senate.

It is always questionable how much, if any, endorsements translate into votes. The exception, especially in West Virginia, would be Donald Trump’s imprimatur. However, the positioning by Capito is notable for several reasons.

Candidates of the same party are typically careful not to get too involved in the races of others. There is a risk of tagging along with a candidate who may lose or alienate party voters who favor a different candidate.

Capito is following the lead of his mother, U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito. The state’s top Republican normally maintains her neutrality, at least publicly, during primaries, but she was front and center when Justice announced his candidacy in April.

Capito is part of Senator Mitch McConnell’s leadership team, and McConnell personally recruited Justice. A PAC affiliated with McConnell is going to help fund Justice’s campaign. “This is about taking back the majority in the United States Senate,” Capito said at Justice’s announcement.

The Capito family endorsements leave 2nd District Congressman Alex Mooney twisting in the wind in his Senate run. Mooney is more conservative than Justice, which should play well with many West Virginia Republicans, but he has not built strong personal relationships with Justice or Senator Capito.

What then about Joe Manchin? The veteran Democrat may run for re-election to the U.S. Senate. He may run for President on the No Labels ticket. He may retire. Who knows? Does HE even know at this point?

But Manchin is probably miffed at the Capitos’ backing of Justice. The Capitos’ full-throated endorsement of Justice is tantamount to a public rejection of Manchin.

The old story in political circles is that the Manchin and the Capito/Arch Moore families would keep a respectable distance from each other when it came to elections, that they would stay out of each other’s political business and avoid head-to-head confrontations.

Maybe that is just an urban myth—Moore Capito said on Talkline that he had never heard of it—but it likely puts a strain on the Joe Manchin-Shelley Moore Capito relationship. Those two have co-existed for years now, each careful not to publicly challenge the other.  They are like political brother and sister with a healthy dose of sibling rivalry.

West Virginia’s political circle is small, with interconnected pieces—a single move can shift the position of many other players. The Capitos—mother and son—do not make moves without considerable calculation. One would expect Justice to return the favor and announce he is backing Moore Capito.

And then there is Riley Moore, the current state treasurer and Republican candidate for the 2nd District of Congress.  He is Arch Moore’s grandson and Senator Capito’s nephew, although he is supporting Alex Mooney, not Jim Justice.

The Capitos and Moores are starting to pile up!   Now add Jim Justice to the group and you have an expanding political force in West Virginia for the 2024 election.





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