It seems almost certain Secretary of State Natalie Tennant and Second District Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito will be the Democratic and Republican nominees for the United States Senate seat that will be vacated in 2014 when current Sen. Jay Rockefeller retires after 30 years in that office.
Both clearly have a definite edge over any other potential candidates in each party’s primary election next year.
There is far less certainty at this point about which of them will emerge as the winner in a state that consists of a 2-1 edge in registered Democrat voters over Republicans but frequently ends up electing GOP candidates. One certainty is that Tennant can continue in her current four-year term as secretary of state if she should lose to Capito.
The other certainty is that Capito is giving up her seat and seniority built up over the last 13 years in the House of Representatives in this bid for the Senate. If she loses this race, she will be leaving Congress at the end of her current term next year.
As Tennant made her official formal announcement of candidacy last week in Beckley and then in Charleston, she wasted no time establishing her political distance from President Barack Obama, who is so unpopular among many registered Democrats in this state that they cast votes for the inmate of a Texas prison in the 2012 presidential primary election.
“I will fight any Republican or any Democrat, including President Obama, who tries to kill our energy jobs whether they are coal, natural gas, wind or water,” Tennant told supporters first at Beckley and later in the day in later appearances in Charleston and Morgantown. “I disagree with the Obama administration’s policies on coal.”
Both Capito and Tennant figure to have token opposition in their respective primary elections but both will be the strong favorites to win those primaries and face off in the November general election. If that does indeed prove to be the case, West Virginia voters will be electing a woman to the U. S. Senate for the first time in history. Tennant wasted no time launching her campaign to oust Capito by describing her as part of the reason Congress is gridlocked. She said there is “no way around it, Congresswoman Capito has been part of the problem in a broken Congress for the last 13 years.”
Capito’s response came in a series of statements released while Tennant was speaking. Chris Hansen, who serves as campaign manager for Capito, said that “Harry Reid and the liberal D.C. Democrats handpicked Natalie Tennant to be their nominee. It is no wonder they picked West Virginia’s biggest supporter of Obamacare, the War on Coal and President Obama’s entire extreme agenda.”
Meanwhile, less than two weeks after the Boone County Commission filed a lawsuit against six pharmacies in their home county and adjoining Kanawha County, alleging they were contributing to the problem with prescription drug abuse, the three commissioners later voted to withdraw the complaint that named pharmacies in Madison, Uneeda, Alum Creek and Kanawha City.
Charleston attorneys Rudy DiTrapano and Jim Cagle filed the suit for the Boone County Commission, alleging these so-called “pill mill” pharmacies have turned a blind eye to the prescription drug problem and know many of the pills they distributed were not being used for medical purposes.
But Richard Stevens, director of the West Virginia Pharmacists Association, said he knows some of these pharmacists personally and added that “to my knowledge they are all respectable professionals. They are not pill pushers.”
The reversal action by Boone County commissioners is the second in recent weeks. In late August, the McDowell County Commission voted to allow DiTrapano and Cagle to sue pharmacies in that county. But those three commissioners voted unanimously earlier this month to withdraw that lawsuit.