Popular Dem Governor Manchin On the Offensive in West Virginia Senate Race

Sep 21, 2010 5:59pm

ABC's Z. Byron Wolf reports:

Here’s why this should be a good year for West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin, who is running for Senate.

He is a popular Democratic governor – one of the most popular governors in the country. He’s got a better than 50 percent approval rating. His positions on social positions – pro life, for instance – track well with the makeup of  his state. And he’s got supporters in traditionally Republican ranks. Just Monday the US Chamber of Commerce, which usually endorses Republicans, gave him its backing.

Here’s why this could be a bad year for Manchin: He is a Democrat.

And even in West Virginia and replacing Sen. Robert Byrd, having a D next to your name could be a problem.

He didn’t face  a tough primary and has not had any major gaffes. But polls of varying degrees of reliability show the race between Manchin and businessman  John Raese to be tightening. There has not been a lot of polling of the race, where professional prognosticators still predict a Manchin victory.

Democrats are taking no chances in West Virginia. Manchin’s first two TV ads were both critical of Raese instead of touting Manchin’s accomplishments.

Raese has hit Manchin in TV ads as “a rubber stamp for Barack Obama” and pointed to his support for “Obamacare,” which is how detractors of the health reform law passed by Democrats describe it.
Obama lost badly in West Virginia in 2008, 42 percent to Sen. John McCain’s 53 percent.

Raese, who ran for Senate twice before in West Virginia, already has some name recognition even if he was not most Republicans first choice to run. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito opted out. Raese is CEO of a steel and limestone producer, Greer industries, and has money to burn on the race.

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