A column by Mike Myer, executive editor of The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register
WHEELING, W.Va. — Rep. Shelley Capito has a big ace up her sleeve going into the race to succeed Sen. Jay Rockefeller. It is simply that Democrats will be unable to portray her as a hardline conservative.
Capito, the Republican who represents West Virginia’s Second Congressional District, already is the heavy favorite to win the Senate race this fall. That will be made easier by Rockefeller’s decision to retire – though Capito would have done very well against him.
Here in the Mountain State, Democrat candidates have a tried-and-true playbook against Republicans: First, insist Democrats favor “the little guy,” while GOP candidates do not. Second, claim the right thing for labor union members to do is support Democrats.
If conservatives have had a gripe about Capito, it is that occasionally, she works with unions. For example, a few years ago, she co-sponsored a bill to allow air traffic controllers to join unions. In 2007, she co-sponsored a bill to allow public safety workers to unionize.
Most Republicans get very low scores, often in single digits, when labor union analysts rate them. But in 2008, the AFL-CIO gave Capito a 48 percent “lifetime score,” according to Project Vote Smart. That had dropped to 31 percent by 2011, but it’s still better than most GOP candidates.
On issues some liberals use to define whether a lawmaker is for or against “the little guy,” Capito also does well…