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Posts in "West Virginia"
August 20, 2014
It’s a bad sign for Democrats when they have more Mid-Atlantic congressional opportunities in West Virginia than in Pennsylvania.
But that’s symbolic of the 2014 midterm election cycle in which numerous Democratic opportunities that look good on paper just haven’t materialized. Four out of five races have dropped off the regional Top 5 Races to Watch list since last summer.
GOP Rep. Michael G. Fitzpatrick is running strong in Pennsylvania’s 8th District, and his race with Democrat Kevin Strouse should barely be considered competitive at this point. The West Virginia Senate race is competitive, but it doesn’t look like Natalie Tennant has the independent profile necessary to overcome President Barack Obama’s abysmal job rating in the state.
In New York’s 23rd District, GOP Rep. Tom Reed finds ways to make races closer than they need to be, but he is polling well heading into the general-election sprint. And in New York’s 11th District, GOP Rep. Michael G. Grimm is still in the game, despite his numerous indictments. But as Democrats remind voters about his legal troubles, it seems unlikely Grimm will be able to survive and that this will be a hot race come November.
Here are the top five races to watch in the Mid-Atlantic region this fall: Full story
July 16, 2014
In the game “Would You Rather?” one is usually faced with a choice between two difficult and undesirable options.
“If you had a machete, would you rather amputate the feet of two friends or amputate one of your own feet?” asks the site YouRather.com. Or, “Would you rather spend a day with Justin Bieber or spend a day with Miley Cyrus?”
It’s some of the same anxiety facing voters at the polls in the next election. But the contrast in a trio of House races stand out as particularly difficult choices for voters this year. Remember, your first reaction may not be the best choice.
Question 1: Would you rather be an indicted congressman from Staten Island or a candidate from Brooklyn in New York’s 11th District?
Don’t laugh. The answer isn’t as simple as you might think.
When a 20-count indictment came out against GOP Rep. Michael G. Grimm in April, there was a widespread assumption the congressman could not win his re-election bid in New York’s competitive 11th District.
But the charges against Grimm may not be as toxic as being from Brooklyn in a district dominated by Staten Island. That’s one of the biggest challenges facing former Democratic New York City Councilman Domenic M. Recchia Jr., who is challenging Grimm.
There is qualitative and quantitative data that suggest this race is far from over. Grimm has withstood the barrage of negative headlines and is still standing. But the question is whether the congressman can withstand paid Democratic attacks headed his way later this year, particularly when is fundraising has been poor.
The Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call continues to rate the race as Leans Democrat, but Democrats still have some work to do to put it away. And as I wrote this spring, legal action does not guarantee electoral loss.
Question 2: In a congressional race in West Virginia, would you rather be a former state senator from Maryland or a former Obama advocate?
Being a former state legislator and former chairman of the state party are common credentials for office, except when they are from a different state. Democrats, and even some Republicans, aren’t happy with Alex Mooney’s move from Maryland to West Virginia, where he is the GOP nominee in the 2nd District.
But even though most of Mooney’s résumé comes from across the state line, he is a Republican running in a district where President Barack Obama’s job approval rating can’t be higher than the mid-30s.
Democrat Nick Casey is trying to position himself as a bipartisan accountant, but he is a former state party chairman and top party fundraiser who endorsed Obama in the past presidential elections.
This race will be an excellent test of what West Virginia voters hate more: candidates from Maryland or candidates connected to Obama. The Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call rates the race Leans Republican.
Question 3: In a congressional race in Michigan’s 11th District, would you rather be a Santa Claus-impersonating incumbent or someone whose law firm sent a foreclosure notice on Christmas Eve?
Republican Kerry Bentivolio has been ridiculed for his reindeer farm and hobby of impersonating Santa Claus. He became an accidental congressman when former Rep. Thaddeus McCotter was dropped from the 2012 primary ballot because of a lack of valid signatures.
But Bentivolio is a sitting member of Congress at a time when 99 percent of incumbents (273 out of 275 through July 8, according to the University of Virginia Center for Politics’ Kyle Kondik) have won their primaries thus far this cycle. And the congressman’s primary challenger, attorney Dave Trott, is not perfect.
Trott’s law firm specializes in home foreclosures on behalf of banks and lenders. The Detroit Free Press detailed one eye-popping incident in particular:
But Rozier, like tens of thousands of other Michiganders, lost his home to foreclosure during the housing crisis. After a three-year legal battle with Trott’s law firm and the bank, the notice arrived last Christmas Eve. He was evicted in January and moved his wife, who is on kidney dialysis, his bedridden mother, and his uncle, who has Down syndrome and is in a wheelchair, into a neighbor’s empty duplex across the street.
But Trott is far outpacing Bentivolio in fundraising and is controlling the debate on the television airwaves. Most GOP insiders believe the congressman is at least a slight underdog in the Aug. 5 primary.
July 1, 2014
Party campaign committees and outside groups aren’t allowed to coordinate, but as they outline their fall television ad strategies, interested groups are doing a very public dance to ensure they don’t step on each others’ toes and waste money duplicating efforts.
Now we have some specific examples of districts where this collaboration is taking place. Full story
April 29, 2014
I’ve noticed with some alarm how many people fail to make reasonable distinctions among races that admittedly have some factors in common.
So let me make an important distinction: While Democratic Senate candidates Alison Lundergan Grimes, 35, and Michelle Nunn, 47, have difficult races ahead of them in Kentucky and Georgia, each has a path to victory.
Conversely, I don’t currently see a path for West Virginia Democrat Natalie Tennant, 46. Full story
April 23, 2014
Stop the presses!
The Charleston Gazette, West Virginia’s largest newspaper, has endorsed both Democratic Senate hopeful Natalie Tennant and Rep. Nick J. Rahall II, a Democrat in the 3rd District.
Tennant will face Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., in November in an open-seat contest, while Rahall will face Evan Jenkins, a former Democrat who switched parties to run against the 19-term congressman.
Tennant’s campaign was ecstatic about the endorsement, quoting from it extensively in a recent press release.
But I’ve written before (here and here) about how little value endorsements have in high-profile contests (Ted Kennedy’s endorsement of Barack Obama couldn’t help him carry the state in the 2008 Massachusetts Democratic presidential primary) and the Gazette endorsement is particularly irrelevant.
Why? Because the Charleston Gazette is increasingly out of step with West Virginia’s politics. Full story
March 31, 2014
February 20, 2014
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
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
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
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
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.
September 26, 2013
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
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
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
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.