National Journal

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Wild Scramble Shaping Up to Fill Capito’s Seat


By Julie Sobel

With Rep. Shelley Moore Capito's, R-W.V., decision to run for Senate, her current House seat becomes the first open one in the 2014 election. We'll take a look at the early buzz on potential contenders on both sides of the field.

Though Democrats haven’t been competitive against Capito in the past few cycles, with her out of the picture they plan to contest the seat. Subscribers can check out Monday’s House Race Hotline spotlight for why Democrats need to be able to compete in the district to entertain the notion of winning back the House, even though the district is favorable to Republicans.

The open seat is expected to attract a large number of candidates, though if Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller decides to retire some Democrats could take a look at the Senate race instead. Capito noted Monday that one of her reasons for declaring a Senate bid so early was to allow candidates to begin jockeying for position in the contest to replace her. While no one has declared their candidacies yet, several are openly expressing interest and a slew of other names are being tossed around.


House Minority Leader Tim Armstead and Delegates Eric Nelson and Patrick Lane all told theCharleston Daily Mail they were considering campaigns.

Former West Virginia GOP chair Mike Stuart is also being mentioned as a potential candidate, and told the Daily Mail he was thinking about the race. Stuart’s name has been floated before, as a potential gubernatorial candidate in 2011, but he ultimately decided to pass on that race.

Former Secretary of State Betty Ireland is being talked about in GOP circles as a potentially strong contender. Ireland unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2010, losing the primary to businessman Bill Maloney. But she would start the race with name ID, having run and won statewide previously.

A West Virginia GOP source noted a number of other names are floating around as possible candidates: State Sen. Mike Hall (who ran unsuccessfully for state Treasurer), Delegate Jonathan Miller (who unsuccessfully challenged Capito in a 2012 primary), current GOP chair Conrad Lucas, former state Sen. Steve Harrison, and attorney Charles Trump.


State Sen. Erik Wells lost to Capito back in 2004, but is considering taking another shot at the seat in 2014. Wells, who’s married to Democratic Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, told the Charleston Gazette he’s “seriously interested” in running for the seat.

He touted his ability to work with Republicans, and said he had “been willing to take stands on policies that aren’t always favorable to Democrats, but were stands to benefit West Virginians.”

State Sen. Herb Snyder also said he was seriously considering a run, noting that he’d like the Eastern Panhandle to be represented “in that mix of candidates.”

Former Democratic Party Chairman Nick Casey is also considering a bid.

A national Democratic operative raised the possibility of Carte Goodwin running. Goodwin, an attorney, served briefly in the Senate: After Robert Byrd died, then-Gov. Joe Manchin appointed him to the seat during the special election to replace the longtime senior senator.

The operative also mentioned Anne Barth, Capito’s 2008 opponent and a former top staffer to the late Sen. Robert Byrd, as a potential candidate for the seat.