CHARLESTON – The 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney will campaign for West Virginia’s U.S. Senate and House hopefuls next week.
The former Massachusetts governor will attend a Tuesday Charleston fundraiser and Beckley rally for Shelley Moore Capito, Alex Mooney and Evan Jenkins.
The three races are key as Republicans look to tip traditionally Democratic West Virginia further right.
Capito’s campaign announced the events Monday in a news release.
Capito, a seventh-term congresswoman, faces Democratic West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant in a high-profile Senate race. Capito is favored as Republicans try to overturn a thin Democratic Senate majority.
Jenkins is challenging 19-term Democratic Congressman Nick Rahall in the 3rd Congressional District.
Mooney, the former Maryland party chairman who moved to a rental home in the Eastern Panhandle just last year, and Democrat Nick Casey, the former Democratic state party president, are seeking the Second Congressional District seat Capito will vacate.
In the Capito news release, Romney called the three Republicans “pro-coal advocates” who oppose President Barack Obama. In 2012, Romney beat Obama in all of West Virginia’s 55 counties.
“These candidates support the policies that will put West Virginia on a path toward economic prosperity, job-growth and freedom from Obama’s overreaching policies that threaten West Virginia’s way of life,” Romney said.
Tennant, Rahall and Casey have distanced themselves from the president. They say his proposal to limit carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants will hurt West Virginia’s iconic fossil fuel industry.
As Massachusetts governor, Romney also supported limiting airborne power plant pollution. In 2005, Romney initially backed a regional cap-and-trade pact for power plant emissions, but later refused to sign the pact.
Gina McCarthy, now Obama’s top official at the Environmental Protection Agency, once worked for his administration.
On the presidential campaign trail, Romney championed the coal industry and criticized Obama’s energy plans.
The Tennant campaign attacked Romney for a 2003 press conference as governor, in which he said a Massachusetts coal power plant – deemed of the state’s five worst for pollution – “kills people.” He wanted the Salem plant to comply with new state emissions rules without an extended deadline.
“The fact that Congresswoman Capito would align herself with someone who believes coal ‘kills people’ just to make a quick buck shows how quickly she will turn her back on West Virginia coal miners in favor of Wall Street dollars,” Tennant spokeswoman Jennifer Donohue said.
Romney’s former vice presidential nominee, Congressman Paul Ryan, already lent Capito support during a Charleston event last month.
On the same day, progressive star Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., headlined an event for Tennant in Shepherdstown.