Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Democrat governor of WV runs classic Republican race, even shooting cap-trade bill; will it be enough to overcome Obama?

NEWELL, W. Va. — Governor Joe Manchin is running what seems to be a classic Republican campaign for the US Senate in West Virginia.

He blasts “Obamacare,’’ files a lawsuit against environmental laws, and — literally — fires a bullet at a mock-up of climate-change legislation. He boasts of his endorsement by the US Chamber of Commerce, his A rating from the libertarian Cato Institute, and his conservative fiscal credentials.

The catch: Manchin is the Democratic nominee. And even this effort to distance himself from President Obama and his own party hasn’t assured him of victory in the Mountain State.

Republican nominee John Raese, meanwhile, is so determined to be seen as the most conservative candidate that he has said he is running to the political right of the Tea Party movement. The businessman and former state party chairman wants to eliminate the minimum wage, calls global warming a myth, and says the health care bill is the worst piece of legislation ever passed by Congress.

While the tight contest here hasn’t received as much publicity as Tea Party-infused races elsewhere, it could be pivotal in the broader bid to control the Senate. A recent CNN/Time poll found the race tied at 44 percent, with a candidate from the liberal Mountain Party, Jesse Johnson, favored by 5 percent, which could take away votes from Manchin.

If Manchin loses the special election for the seat long held by the late Robert C. Byrd, it would mark the first time Democrats have failed to control both of West Virginia’s Senate seats in 50 years. Because it is a special election, the winner will be seated immediately, meaning a Raese victory would boost the GOP during the lame-duck session that could decide the fate of the Bush-era tax cuts.

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