If you want more evidence to prove that going after Obamacare is a political loser for Republicans, look no further than the West Virginia U.S. Senate race where Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R. WV) has avoided making the ACA a big campaign issue:


Rep. Shelly Moore Capito, R-W.Va., center, accompanied by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Va., left, and House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, speaks to reporters about coal during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, June 26, 20
Back in January, she had kind words for the law's Medicaid expansion, which could cover as many as 116,000 low-income West Virginia residents in the next decade after the state accepted it.

"Coverage is great and having more people covered is excellent," she said.

Capito then told the Wall Street Journal last week that repealing Obamacare is unlikely and she'll instead work to make it "less painful and more manageable."

So what affords Capito the leeway to espouse conservative heresy as she tries to turn a blue Senate seat red, especially when House GOP leaders are quickly chastened by the base if they say the same thing?

TPM talked to West Virginia political strategists who said the explanation is complicated. But the essence of it is this: Capito doesn't need Obamacare, and the law has helped a lot of people in her state. Why rail against that new reality when she can instead focus on other issues?

Among Republican candidates this year, Capito seems to be one of the first to learn that lesson.

A few things help her cause, though, particularly West Virginia's continued rightward trend and President Obama's general unpopularity, irrespective of Obamacare. Capito is also the daughter of a former Republican governor who is remembered fondly despite a federal criminal conviction and she represents a congressional district that spans several of the state's major media markets.

She's already a known quantity who doesn't need to brush up her conservative bonafides by bashing health care reform, strategists told TPM.

"She's got significant credibility among Republicans," Mark Blankenship, a Republican strategist, said. "She gives her measured, thought-out approaches, and I think most of them are willing to give her the benefit of the doubt."

Even if Capito wanted to simply campaign against Obamacare, her state's experience under the law would likely complicate things. On top of thousands who have signed up for Medicaid, another 10,000-plus had signed up for private coverage by the end of February -- and that doesn't include the March boon that sent the law blowing past 8 million enrollees nationwide as the enrollment period closed.

So Capito appears to have made the political calculation not to rely on Obamacare, instead drawing contrast between herself and the White House on an issue more central to her state: Coal. Or, as her campaign puts it, Obama's "War on Coal." - TPM, 5/1/14

So while Capito doesn't need to campaign against Obamacare, Wall Street really wants her to win:


The Center for Public Integrity reviewed political finance records, members’ voting records, public statements, and correspondence between Congress and financial regulators to identify the House’s unofficial banking caucus—the financial industry’s go-to lawmakers on the Financial Services Committee.

In addition to Jeb Hensarling and Scott Garrett, the banking caucus includes Reps. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Sean Duffy of Wisconsin, Jim Himes of Connecticut, Blaine Luetkemeyer of Missouri, Gregory Meeks of New York, Ed Royce of California, David Scott of Georgia, Steve Stivers of Ohio, and Ann Wagner of Missouri.

(Top banking lobbyist Cam) Fine and his member bankers started calling up their friends on Capitol Hill, including Capito and Hensarling, who have raised more money from commercial banks than any other House member, including House Speaker John Boehner.

After talking to the bankers and lobbyists, Capito and Hensarling fired off a letter telling a slew of regulators that the (Volcker) rule was supposed to “limit certain activities at large, complex financial institutions,” yet this provision would harm “Main Street financial institutions … critical to our economic recovery.”

They followed up three weeks later with a proposed legislative change dubbed the “Fairness for Community Job Creators Act.”

The five regulatory agencies involved in the rule fell in line. The Federal Reserve, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., CFTC, Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency all agreed to allow community banks to keep their CDOs. They made the announcement before Jan. 15, when most banks would have to report their quarterly profits. - Slate, 4/24/14

Not going to lie, this is going to be one tough seat to hold onto:


Democrats still have a hefty voter-registration advantage and control of both Senate seats, the state Legislature and the governorship. But the Mountaineer State is undoubtedly trending Republican at the federal level.

The shift at the ballot box began at the turn of the century and the pace has picked up since President Barack Obama took office. If all goes well for the GOP this year, the party could win control of four of the five seats in the state’s congressional delegation, with Sen. Joe Manchin III the remaining Democrat.

But the state is also experiencing a generational change. Democratic Sens. Robert C. Byrd and Jay Rockefeller held their seats for decades, so only in the last five years — with Byrd’s death and Rockefeller retiring this year — have ambitious politicians had multiple avenues to run for higher office.

“This is a pivotal moment for West Virginia,” said Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, who is seeking the state’s open Senate seat. “We’re on the precipice of big change. ... I think West Virginia will be an interesting state to watch.”

For decades, Capito’s father, former Gov. Arch Moore, was the Republican outlier in a state of so many Democratic personalities. But 2000 proved consequential in West Virginia political history. The state went for George W. Bush in the presidential contest, and Capito broke the Democratic hold on the delegation. If elected in November, Capito would be the first West Virginia Republican to win a full Senate term since 1942.

Since Bush took 52 percent in his first election, Republican presidential nominees increased their vote shares every four years, most recently with Mitt Romney winning with 62 percent in 2012.

Still, Democrats remain optimistic about potential prospects for statewide office.
Capito is the favorite this year in the race for Rockefeller’s seat against West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant. However, Tennant kept pace with Capito’s fundraising last quarter, and if Tennant comes up short, Democrats said she still has a political future ahead of her in the state. - Roll Call, 5/2/14

Now I do like our candidate:


Natalie Tennant, candidate for U.S. Senate - W.Va.
NAME: Natalie Tennant:

CANDIDATE FOR: U.S. Senate -- W.Va.

COUNTY: Kanawha

PARTY: Democrat

DUTIES OF THE OFFICE: The U.S. Senate is the upper house of Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each state is represented by two senators, regardless of population, who serve staggered six-year terms. The office's salary is $174,000.

BIOGRAPHY: Growing up as the youngest of seven on our family farm, I learned how to do more with less. I brought those West Virginia values to the Secretary of State's office, where I cut the budget and gave $3 million back to taxpayers. I'm running to bring those values to the Senate and put West Virginia first - www.natalietennant.com.

QUESTION & ANSWER: What steps should the federal government take to reduce the number of Americans living in poverty?

"Anyone who works hard for 40 hours a week should be able to feed their family and pay the mortgage. It's time to raise the minimum wage. West Virginia has what it takes to lead the country in high-paying manufacturing, technology and energy jobs. Let's end tax breaks for corporations that ship jobs overseas and invest in West Virginia jobs." - The Herald-Dispatch, 5/1/14

And the Kochs are pouring in a lot of money in West Virginia:


The oil-rich Koch brothers — whom The Washington Post calls “the Republican Party’s biggest sugar daddies” — are pushing for GOP victories in the Mountain State through their front groups such as Americans for Prosperity, a tea party operation.

Their foremost goal so far seems to be defeat of Rep. Nick Rahall, the state’s only Democrat in the House of Representatives. Smear ads against him are bombarding television. Last month in Beckley, Rahall told supporters:

“There is a lot of outside money coming into this campaign from outside billionaires like the Koch brothers, who have created 17 different organizations, including Americans for Prosperity and the American Energy Alliance.”

A new state branch of Americans for Prosperity opened in January. It mailed notices that Secretary of State Natalie Tennant said seem designed to make some West Virginians mistakenly think they aren’t qualified to vote in the May 13 primary.

Presumably, the Kochs are working nationwide in hope of putting Congress into the hands of Republicans, who will reward the tycoons with tax giveaways, lax pollution controls and other federal benefits. - WV Gazette-Mail, 5/3/14

If you want to get involved and donate to Tennant's campaign, you can do so here:

Originally posted to pdc on Sat May 03, 2014 at 02:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.

Your Email has been sent.