Rep. Shelley Moore-Capito is currently considering a Senate bid against long-time incumbent Sen. Jay Rockefeller. Though not quite to the extent of his counterpart, Rockefeller is an institution in West Virginia, and cannot easily be beaten. For West Virginians to replace the Rockefeller with a Republican, the GOP would have to offer a clear choice. On economic issues, the state of West Virginia remains left of center. So the GOP must present the contrast on social values issue. Rep. Moore-Capito cannot offer them that contrast.
Once again, the strongest Republican challenger to a West Virginia incumbent would be Secretary of State Betty Ireland. Ireland, unlike Capito, has been elected state-wide and sides with the state`s values voters. She would present to voters clear reasons to change course, rather than simply saying, “Vote for me, I`m a Republican.” In doing so, she would bring West Virginians into the GOP for elections down-ballot from the Presidential election, not just in 2008, but for years to come. What`s more, a Capito departure would leave her seat, which now appears relatively safe in light of her victory during a very tough year, in jeopardy, further complicating Republican efforts to take back the House.
Regardless of whether Capito decides to run, she will only do damage to the Party`s chances. Her stalling will force either her or another candidate to do two years of work in far less than two years. She did this with the `06 cycle and as a result, no Republican had a chance to gain traction. She must not continue to prevent her Party from having any chance at taking either of the Senate seats in West Virginia.