No sooner had Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) declared on Monday that she would run for the seat of five-term Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller than the Club for Growth weighed in strongly against the conservative credentials of the GOP lawmaker.
The strongly-worded statement from Club for Growth President Chris Chocola, likening Capito???s record to those of ???a whole lot like the establishment candidates who lost this year,??? has raised early questions about the contest political prognosticators are already calling one of the Republican Party???s best opportunities to gain seats in the Senate in 2014.
Will national conservative organizations such as Chocola???s Club weigh in against Capito, possibly attempting to recruit a primary opponent? And how will West Virginia???s grass-roots Republicans???after a year of major gains in the Mountaineer State and hungry to win a Senate race for the first time since 1958???respond to the candidacy of a congresswoman more moderate (lifetime American Conservative Union rating: 70.11 percent) than most of them?
???Congresswoman Capito has a long record of support of bailouts, pork, and bigger government,??? declared Chocola, himself a former Republican House Member from Indiana, ???She voted to bail out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, for massive expansions of government-run health insurance, giveaways to big labor, and repeatedly voted to continue funding for wasteful earmarks like an Exploratorium in San Francisco and an Aquarium in South Carolina. That???s not the formula for GOP success in U.S. Senate races.???
Other votes cast by seven-termer Capito and cited by Chocola that are sure to cause controversy on the right are her support for the ???cash for clunkers??? legislation favored by the Obama Administration, opposing the blocking of ???Davis Bacon??? wage requirements, and the McCain-Feingold campaign ???reform???legislation of ???02.
Most conservatives in the state who spoke to Human Events were unwilling to comment on Capito or the Senate race at this early date. Two who did, however, were among the best-known West Virginians on the right: former Rep. Mick Staton (lifetime American Conservative Union rating: 100 percent) and wife Lynn Staton, a state GOP vice chairwoman.
???Shelley appeals to a broad section of voters here who aren???t as conservative as I am,??? said Staton, who left no doubt he was supporting the congresswoman, ???Now I???m strongly pro-life and Shelley isn???t and there are a lot of people who share my views on that issue who aren???t happy with her. What I tell them is she???s a heckuva lot better than any liberal Democrat.???
Lynn Staton pointed out that the Club for Growth ???does good work, but it has to remember that not every state is the same. You can???t put up Sharron Angle or Christine O???Donnell [defeated conservative GOP Senate nominees in Nevada and Delaware in 2010] and expect to win???not here.???
???And the Club should remember???Republicans are still a minority in the Senate.???
Other conservatives are holding back opinions until the Senate race is fleshed out a bit more. Human Events spoke to State Attorney General-elect Pat Morrisey, winner of a dramatic upset over a twenty-year Democratic incumbent last month, and soon to be the only Republican in statewide office.
???It???s too early in the cycle to ordain or to crucify any candidate,??? said Morrisey, ???Right now, I???m just focused on being a terrific attorney general who will take on the federal overreach and restore the ethics of the office.???