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April 23, 2014

Posts in "West Virginia"

March 31, 2014

Ratings Change: West Virginia’s 3rd District

rahall 097 091113 445x278 Ratings Change: West Virginia’s 3rd District

Rahall is vulnerable in 2014. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Nick J. Rahall II, D-W.Va., has been elected and re-elected to Congress 19 times to his southern West Virginia seat.

But this November could be different, and his political future is very much in doubt. Full story

February 20, 2014

Obamacare Can Be Complicated for Republicans Beyond the Beltway

For Republicans in D.C., the Affordable Care Act is a black and white issue — you are either for it or against it. And they are all against it. But for many GOP legislators and candidates outside the Beltway, the politics of Obamacare is much more complicated.

In Oregon, state Rep. Jason Conger has been on the defensive for his votes to set up a state insurance exchange, Cover Oregon, as he seeks the GOP nomination in the U.S. Senate race.

According to The Oregonian, at least one of Conger’s opponents has attacked him for voting in favor of Cover Oregon, which had some well-publicized website difficulties. Of course, Conger didn’t let the charges go unanswered.

“Legislators don’t get to vote on federal law,” Conger responded in the article, saying that it wasn’t true his votes were the “equivalent of Obamacare.”

Conger isn’t the only candidate wrestling with the issue. Full story

January 24, 2014

Ratings Change: West Virginia’s 3rd District

Everybody knows “Nicky Joe,” but that doesn’t mean the Democratic congressman is immune to election defeat.

It’s true that Rep. Nick J. Rahall II is somewhat of an institution in southern West Virginia. He’s been in Congress since Jimmy Carter was president, and Republicans have never been able to defeat him. But these are different times.

Mitt Romney carried West Virginia’s 3rd District with 65 percent in 2012, and John McCain won it with 56 percent in 2008. But the presidential numbers dramatically understate Rahall’s appeal in the district. This cycle will put him to the test.

Republicans believe they finally have a top contender in party-switching state Sen. Evan Jenkins. The Republican had nearly $200,000 in campaign funds at the end of September, but more importantly, he should be a candidate worthy of a heavy investment from Republican outside groups later in the year.

Rahall won a nineteenth term in 2012, 54 percent to 46 percent, against Republican Rick Snuffer. The congressman outspent his challenger $1.6 million to $590,000. At least one thing seems certain: Rahall will not voluntarily retire this year. He raised more than $400,000 in the fourth quarter of last year — a large sum for a traditionally slow-starting fundraiser — and the filing deadline is Saturday.

Similar to Minnesota’s 7th District, the Republican lean of the district and a credible GOP challenger makes this a race to watch. We’re moving West Virginia’s 3rd to Lean Democrat from Democrat Favored in the Rothenberg Political Report/CQ Roll Call ratings.

January 14, 2014

Rothenberg’s Dangerous Dozen Open House Seats

tennis004 050813 445x300 Rothenberg’s Dangerous Dozen Open House Seats

McIntyre is retiring, giving Republicans a strong opportunity to pick up his House seat in North Carolina. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

I wrote my first Dangerous Dozen open House seats column in this space 14 years ago, so I figured I might as well keep the streak going, though it isn’t nearly as impressive as Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak.

As in my Jan. 17, 2000, column, the districts are listed in order of vulnerability. “All of the races on the list currently are worth watching, but I’ve concluded that the races at the top of the list are more likely to change party control than those at the bottom,” I wrote back then. The same applies now.

Utah’s 4th District (Jim Matheson, a Democrat, is retiring.)

Barack Obama received 41 percent of the vote in this district in 2008, but only 30 percent in his bid for re-election. No Democrat will begin with Matheson’s goodwill or moderate record, making the district impossible to hold for his party. After November, Republicans will control all four of the state’s House districts and both Senate seats. Full story

November 21, 2013

The Most Competitive Race in West Virginia?

Democrats recruited West Virginia State Auditor Glen Gainer to run in the 1st District in the aftermath of the government shutdown. But the party’s best opportunity in the state might be in the 2nd District, with a candidate that some national strategists were wary of earlier this year.

Barack Obama received just 44 percent of the vote in the 2nd District in 2008, and 38 percent in 2012. But after a dozen years, GOP Rep. Shelley Moore Capito is leaving the seat to run for Senate, giving Democrats a fresh opportunity. Full story

November 7, 2013

For Some Candidates, Home Is Where the Opportunity Is

187050338 445x296 For Some Candidates, Home Is Where the Opportunity Is

McAuliffe won the gubernatorial race on Tuesday in Virginia. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

We all know that candidates and members don’t have to live in a House district in order to run or even represent that area. And I’ve written about a number of top-tier Democratic hopefuls this cycle who don’t live in the district where they are campaigning.

But there is a new category of candidate emerging this cycle: candidates who held office in one state but are running in another.

The most high-profile example is former Massachusetts Sen. Scott P. Brown. Brown, who was defeated for re-election in 2012 by Democrat Elizabeth Warren, has not closed the door on running for the Senate in neighboring New Hampshire against incumbent Jeanne Shaheen.

Full story

September 26, 2013

Tennant Not a Game Changer Yet for West Virginia Democrats

A few weeks ago, Democrats didn’t even have a warm body in the West Virginia Senate race. So getting Secretary of State Natalie Tennant to run for the Senate was quite a catch.

But even though Tennant is a credible statewide elected official, she starts as a significant underdog in the open-seat contest.

Convincing her to run must have been quite a challenge. After coming up short in her gubernatorial bid in 2011, Tennant had her sights set on running for governor again in 2015. Like Alison Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky, Tennant must have believed that switching course was her best next move.

There were some nuggets of information that may have encouraged Tennant to make the jump.

Before Tennant’s announcement, an Aug. 15-22 poll conducted by R.L. Repass and Partners for the Charleston Daily Mail showed her trailing Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito narrowly 45 percent to 40 percent. And Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin III’s ability to win 60 percent in 2012 while President Barack Obama received 36 percent was also probably an encouragement.

But that understates her challenge. Full story

July 9, 2013

Top 5 Races to Watch in the Mid-Atlantic

A lone competitive Senate race in West Virginia and a few competitive House seats set the stage in the Mid-Atlantic region next year.

The bad news for Democrats is that the early list of top House races contains just one district in Pennsylvania. They would likely need closer to a handful of competitive House seats in the Keystone State, a traditional battleground, to get back to the majority after 2014.

Here are the top five races to watch in the Mid-Atlantic region next year: Full story

June 19, 2013

RATINGS CHANGE: West Virginia’s 3rd District

rahall 021 0202121 445x304 RATINGS CHANGE: West Virginias 3rd District

Rahall’s seat should be competitive. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

By the numbers, West Virginia’s 3rd District looks like a prime Republican takeover opportunity. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney won the district with 65 percent in 2012. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., won it with 56 percent in 2008. And President George W. Bush took 53 percent in 2004.

But winning the southern West Virginia seat — and defeating Democratic Rep. Nick J. Rahall II — has been impossible so far for the GOP. Full story

June 14, 2013

Whither the Competitive Open-Seat Race?

NRCC 02 111312 445x295 Whither the Competitive Open Seat Race?

National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Greg Walden, left, of Oregon might have to contend with fewer open seats this cycle. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Open seats are supposed to be opportunities. Without longtime incumbents on the ballot, these districts should be easier to takeover. But six months into the 2014 cycle, that just isn’t the case on the House side.

So far, there are 10 districts slated to be open seats because the member is running for higher office or retiring in 2014.  Either President Barack Obama or Mitt Romney won all of them with at least 55 percent last year.

Full story

March 29, 2013

What State Political Trends Portend for the 2014 Midterms

PryorCollins032813 445x267 What State Political Trends Portend for the 2014 Midterms

Neither Pryor, left, or Collins have a party identification that fits with the political bend of their state. But while Collins has a strong brand and is not viewed as particularly vulnerable in 2014, Pryor is a top target for Republicans. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Correction, 2:12 p.m. | There probably isn’t a better demonstration of the nation’s partisan political polarization than the makeup of the Senate. Only 17 states have split delegations, while 33 states have either two Republicans or two Democrats (or two senators who caucus with the same party, in the case of independents).

Compare those numbers to the Senate makeup three decades ago, and the change is clear. After the 1982 elections, 24 states had split delegations, while 26 had two members of the same party.

Some of the changes show how state (and national) politics have evolved.

Thirty years ago, Kentucky had two Democratic senators, Walter Huddleston and Wendell Ford. But in 1984, Ronald Reagan carried the state by almost 20 points, running so strongly that he helped drag in an obscure GOP Senate nominee. That upset winner, Mitch McConnell, narrowly defeated Huddleston to begin the state’s transformation into a Republican stronghold in federal races. Full story

March 22, 2013

Mixing Apples and Oranges in West Virginia

Hoping to hang on to retiring Sen. Jay Rockefeller’s open seat, Democratic strategists are passing the word that attorney and energy company executive Nick Preservati is looking closely at the 2014 Senate contest in West Virginia.

National Journal’s Hotline on Call describes the possible Democratic candidate as “a wealthy, pro-coal, pro-business Democrat in the style of SenJoe Manchin,” the state’s junior senator who is best known for his opposition to the Obama “cap and trade” plan and his support for gun owners’ rights.

I know nothing more than that about Preservati, and he could turn out to be an interesting option for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which, after all, would be happy to have a fighting chance to hold the Senate seat in next year’s midterm elections.

But there are lots of reasons to be skeptical, at least at this point. Here are just two.

First, Democrats have the same problems in West Virginia these days that Republicans have in Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maryland and Hawaii. It is called partisanship. Full story

March 20, 2013

History May Tell Us Little About GOP’s 2014 Senate Prospects

Landrieu032013 445x331 History May Tell Us Little About GOPs 2014 Senate Prospects

Some vulnerable Democrats up in 2014, such as Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, might take comfort in the fact that only a half-dozen Senate incumbents have lost since the 1990s. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A recent National Journal item caught my attention. Entitled “Expanding the Map,” it began: “When Republicans gloat about the seven Democratic-held, red-state Senate seats up in 2014, Democrats can note that only six of their incumbents have lost since the 1990s.”

The statement is true … but potentially misleading.

Yes, over the past seven elections, Republicans have defeated only six Democratic senators seeking re-election. But there are two reasons for that. First, political waves have favored Democrats more than Republicans over the past dozen years. And second, weak Republican candidates who emerged from ideological primaries failed to win very winnable races.

We have seen two Democratic wave elections in the past dozen years — in 2008 and 2006 — and only one Republican Senate wave, in 2010. But in reality, we had a third Democratic Senate wave — in 2000, when the relatively weak Republican Senate class elected in the 1994 wave came up for re-election for the first time. Five GOP incumbents lost that year, a large number considering that the presidential contest was a tie and the House results were a virtual wash. Full story

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