The Times West Virginian: Experience in Washington gives Capito advantage in U.S. Senate race

— *** Newspaper Endorsement Week 2014 ***—

FAIRMONT, W.Va. — History will be made on Nov. 4.

Seven-term Rep. Shelley Moore Capito is the Republican and West Virginia Secretary of State and Marion County native Natalie Tennant is the Democrat on the ballot to fill the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by retiring Jay Rockefeller.

The winner will become West Virginia’s first woman to serve as U.S. senator.

Both were convincing winners for their current positions two years ago, with Capito drawing more than 70 percent of the vote and Tennant more than 60 percent.

In a campaign marked by sharp personal attacks, some stark differences as well as some agreements, the Times West Virginian editorial board — in a split decision — endorses Capito, who earns the edge with her experience in the politically charged atmosphere in Washington, D.C.

As part of the national picture where Republicans hope to gain control of the U.S. Senate, Capito has lumped Tennant in with President Barack Obama, who polls show is extremely unpopular in West Virginia, while Tennant has claimed Capito is too friendly with Wall Street.

Both have backed away from the extreme wings of their parties and vowed to be moderate voices if elected.

Indeed, on some major issues, their positions are not that far apart.

Each talked about support for coal.

Capito, endorsed by the West Virginia Coal Association, said coal layoffs have been caused by Obama and Washington, D.C., Democrats.

“Every single mining job that’s lost is attributable to the policies of President Obama (and) Harry Reid (Senate majority leader from Nevada), who is supporting my opponent’s election,” said Capito.

Tennant, endorsed by the United Mine Workers of America, said she has asked the president to use $8 billion already in the Department of Energy budget to retrofit coal power plants for carbon capture and storage which, she said, would create jobs.

Tennant said she doesn’t believe “we need to choose between clean air and clean coal” and that she does not disagree with scientists who warn about global warming.

Capito said there has to be a balance between protecting the economy and the environment.

They back different paths toward similar goals with the Affordable Care Act.

Capito, who voted many times to repeal the law often termed “Obamacare,” said it has some “very good things” in it, like covering patients with pre-existing conditions.

Tennant, who voiced support for many of the same popular parts of the law, said she wouldn’t repeal it.

Capito said problems with funding Medicare must be realistically addressed.

“There’s going to be no Medicare if we don’t lay down the arms, stop the name calling, stop the scare tactics and face the problem,” Capito said.

“I will not balance the budget on the backs of seniors,” Tennant said.

Those are just a handful of illustrations of their positions on major issues.

Capito, serving with Republican President George W. Bush and Democrat Obama and with control of the House in both Republican and Democratic hands, has experienced the frustrations mixed with occasional successes in the nation’s capital.

“The women in the Senate and how they’re brokering agreements and reaching across party lines … as a fellow woman, I look at it from afar and I think I know where they are,” Capito said in an interview with the National Journal. “They’ve just reached the breaking point, like you do with your family when your kids are fighting — when you sort of look at them and say, ‘That’s enough. We’re stopping this right now. We’re going to find a solution.’ I think that’s a real credit to them in the Senate, and I’d like to be a part of that.”

That’s the attitude each political side needs moving forward, and it’s one we trust Capito will maintain if she prevails Nov. 4.

Follow the Times West Virginian’s endorsements and news coverage at http://www.timeswv.com/

Editor’s Note: During Newspaper Endorsement Week, Oct.13-19, the West Virginia Press Association works to publicize the political endorsements offered by its member newspapers. The WVPA hopes to give readers a view of endorsements from around West Virginia. To see all  of the Newspaper Endorsement Week articles, visit https://wvpress.wpengine.com/opinion/endorsementweek2014/
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