National press keeps eye on state’s U.S. Senate race

A potentially historic matchup between two female candidates has drawn the attention of the national press.

The Washington Post has named the likely contest between Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito and Democratic Secretary of State Natalie Tennant for the open U.S. Senate seat one to watch. The blog She the People compiled a list of national races dominated by female candidates, and ranked the Capito-Tennant matchup No. 2. Although both women must win the May 13 primary before they face each other in the November general election, the matchup appears inevitable, blogger Nia-Malika Henderson wrote in a May 6 post.

“This race is all but set, which means that West Virginia will do something that it has never, ever done before and that is send a woman to the U.S. Senate,” Henderson wrote. “The big question out of this race, which is likely to flip to Republican control, is how and if the ‘war on women’ strategy will play out in a race that features two women.”

Gender aside, pundits on both sides of the aisle are trying to paint each candidate as beholden to party leanings. But Capito, whose father Arch Moore was elected to three terms as governor, usually takes a more moderate approach. Tennant, who campaigned for President Barack Obama in 2008, has since distanced herself from the unpopular president. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., has endorsed Tennant and also is distancing himself from the president.

Tennant’s race, Henderson wrote, “will be another interesting case study on how Democrats run in southern states that are increasingly rare territory for conservative Democrats.”

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Meanwhile, the Washington Post Election Lab, a project featuring an interactive map forecasting potential election outcomes, has determined a Republican has a 95 percent chance of winning the Senate seat.

That’s likely Capito.

As for U.S. House races, Republicans likely will win in the state’s first (99.8 percent chance) and second districts (86 percent chance), but a Democrat has about a 65 percent chance of winning in the third.

Rep. Nick Rahall, the Democratic incumbent running in the third, is having a hard time gaining ground over Republican challenger state Sen. Evan Jenkins, who switched parties to run against Rahall. Rahall faces Democratic challenger Richard Ojeda in the May 13 primary. Jenkins is unopposed.

Contact writer Whitney Burdette at 304-348-7939 or Follow her at

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