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Where is Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.?

I served with Shelley in the House of Delegates before she went to Congress. She was a great delegate. Intelligent, inquisitive, probing, and putting the state’s interests first. Although we didn’t agree on all issues, I never questioned where she was coming from and appreciated her views. I watched her be a strong advocate for her positions.

On one occasion, she voted against the wishes of her constituency group, even though they were crowded into the full Judiciary Committee room. But she voted for what she thought was the right thing to do. I had her stay in my office until those people left so she wouldn’t be accosted by them.

She was one of my “go to” members of the Judiciary. Someone I could count on to listen to all views and reasonably work on the issues we were facing. That’s the Shelley Moore Capito I knew.

I was selfishly disappointed when she ran for Congress. Not in a partisan way, but because I was losing a bright, articulate and reasonable member of the Judiciary Committee. Nonetheless, I was glad when she won.

I thought she would bring a fresh view to Washington. I thought she would cut through the irrational bickering on both sides. As she was when she was in the Legislature, I thought she would be her own person, answerable to her constituents, but not totally beholden to her leadership.

I was wrong.

Where is Shelley Moore Capito in times of a presidential transition? Silent. I’ve not known her to be silent. Is she waiting on the votes to be counted? She was on local television the Sunday after the election, accepting congratulations for herself, her son and her nephew. The votes in those races weren’t finished being counted then. They hadn’t been certified. So that can’t be it.

The Shelley Moore Capito I knew would call Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and congratulate her. She’d tell Harris about her own experience breaking a glass ceiling here in West Virginia, and welcome Harris to the “club.”

But Shelley’s not there.

The Shelley Moore Capito I knew would look at the more than 20 court cases challenging the election that President Donald Trump has lost. She’d listen to the elections experts from both parties saying Trump has no path to victory. She’d listen to the government’s own cyber-security experts saying this was the safest, most secure election ever. Shelley would take all this information and conclude it’s time to move on, to put country over party, transition over ego.

Instead, she was silent while Trump fired the head of that department for daring to speak the truth.

The Shelley Moore Capito I knew would say we remember the election of 2000, where a one-month delay in certifying the results led to vacancies and security weaknesses that Osama Bin Laden exploited, helping lead to 9/11. She’d say we need to have a continued and smooth effort in combating this pandemic. She’d say there’s nothing wrong with releasing transition funds, even if by small chance Trump wins the election. The risk of a chaotic transition is worth the money spent. She’d say there’s nothing risky or wrong in giving intelligence briefings to a senator who is already on the Intelligence Committee and to a former vice president who used to receive them and was trusted with their sensitive nature.

The Shelley Moore Capito I knew would say, “The writing is on the wall. I respect President Trump’s right to challenge the results, but it doesn’t look like they will be successful. So I offer my congratulations to the president-elect and the vice president-elect, and I offer to work with them for the good of the country, and oppose them when I think they are wrong.”

Where is Shelley Moore Capito? I miss her.

Rick Staton, of South Charleston, is a former member of the House of Delegates.