W. Va Democrat Looks to N. Dakota in Struggle for Senate Seat

Image: W. Va Democrat Looks to N. Dakota in Struggle for Senate Seat Natalie Tennant

Monday, 21 Apr 2014 12:07 PM

By Melissa Clyne

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West Virginia’s Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, is seeking the counsel of a fellow Blue Dog Democrat who won her seat in the chamber in spite of her underdog position, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Tennant is expected to face Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican who has served in the House for seven terms. Her father, Arch Alfred Moore, Jr., was a three-term West Virginia governor. The GOP is banking on Capito to help the party pick up the net gain of six seats needed for Republicans to take back control of the Senate, the Journal reports.

Despite having a Democratic governor and a Democrat-controlled legislature — West Virginia has not had a Republican in the U.S. Senate in more than 50 years — Tennant faces an uphill battle, the Journal reports. Capito, according to both parties, is considered the favorite.

Tennant is looking to employ a three-pronged strategy similar to the one used by North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp in her crisscrossing of the state, shaking the hands of thousands of voters: Position herself as a fiscal conservative; focus on the state; criticize President Obama’s energy policy.

Heitkamp, who beat GOP opponent Rick Berg in 2012 by less than 1 percent of the total vote, is the only Democrat to hold high office in the historically red state, The Daily Beast reported earlier this year.

Like Tennant, North Dakota’s junior senator says she’s a moderate, something more politicians seeking higher office in swing states should consider, The Daily Beast reported earlier this year.

"Lower the negative rhetoric and focus on your own abilities," she advised. "Too many people focus on discrediting the other candidate instead of promoting their own candidacy. All elections are choices. People want to know why you would be the better senator or governor or whatever."

Earlier in the month, Heitkamp campaigned with Tennant in West Virginia, where Obama
captured only 36 percent of the vote in 2012. The Journal notes that Tennant addresses issues that are West Virginia-centric, such as prescription drug abuse and coal promotion, while avoiding mentioning national issues or the president.

Capito has suggested that Tennant "is trying to disassociate herself from her own national party."

Capito ended the first quarter with about $4.2 million in the bank, compared with Tennant’s about $1 million, according to Federal Elections Commission filings.

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