W. Va. Dem Senate Candidate Separates Herself From Obama

Image: W. Va. Dem Senate Candidate Separates Herself From Obama West Virginia's Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Natalie Tennant. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Tuesday, 29 Jul 2014 12:39 PM

By Andrea Billups

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West Virginia's Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Natalie Tennant is turning the lights out on President Barack Obama's White House.

In a new campaign ad, her first TV spot of the campaign, Tennant says she's "sending a message" to the administration that the Environmental Protection Agency's proposed new greenhouse gas emission regulations for coal-fired power plants are harming her state's major industry, and without coal, the nation will go without a reliable power source, she said Tuesday in an interview with Fox News.

"This isn't really Democrats or Republicans. This is about West Virginians and whether the president want to recognize it or not, coal still produces 40 percent of the electricity for this country," Tennant said.

Tennant is the state's secretary of state. She's in in a hard-fought Senate race against U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican who has represented the state's 2nd District in Congress since 2001. Capito's campaign sent a picture to Fox News of Tenant campaigning for Obama in 2008, seeking to tie her to policies of the president that have turned the primarily Democratic West Virginia into a near-red state.

Tennant pushed back on such ties, noting "I don't answer to the president."

"I'm disappointed and I am hurt with the way he's reacting to West Virginia," Tennant said of Obama's energy regulations that could all but shut down the state's mining industry. The EPA has proposed cutting carbon dioxide emissions 30 percent by 2030.

Tennant said she had invited EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to visit her state where the president's "war on coal" is energizing voters. But Tennant said McCarthy will visit Pittsburgh, 20 miles away, a rebuff that makes her angry on behalf of state residents who just want to support themselves fairly.

"When we talk about West Virginia coal miners this is families… mortgages.…," Tennant said. "These regulations are attacking our coal jobs. What we are asking is don't attack our coal jobs with regulations that are unrealistic and unattainable. Work with us."

McCarthy has argued that under the administration's Clean Power Plan, states such as West Virginia could create compliance plans that are specific to their current power plants, an approach that would keep the coal industry working, the West Virginia Gazette reported.

"You’ll see that the states that are heavily coal generation now will remain heavily coal generation in the future," McCarthy said in a call with reporters. "Every fuel supply will be able to continue to succeed in a low-carbon future under these plans."

Tennant also pushed back on the suggestion that campaigning with liberal Sen. Elizabeth Warren might hurt her in a state that continues to swing moderate, a move The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza called smart.

"We don't agree on everything. We certainly don't agree on coal. But we do agree on standing up for our middle class and making sure our students have the ability to have an affordable college education, that they are not going to be indebted with student loans," said Tennant, 46.

"We also agree on taking care of our coal miners," Tennant said. "It's all about opportunity and the middle class. This is what we ask."

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