Capito May Be on the Way to Declining Another Senate Run in West Virginia

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010 at 3:31 pm

Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, the most prominent West Virginia Republican, appears to be leaning against running in a special election for the Senate seat left vacant by the death of Robert Byrd (D).

In an interview with The Hill, Capito noted that she had committed to serving out her current House term. The winner of the special Senate election would presumably take office well before Capito’s current House term ends in early January.

The underlying reason is, of course, a concern not about broken pledges but about mathematical facts. The Washington Post reported last week that Capito would make her decision at least in part based on her chances of actually winning the race — chances that grew dimmer Friday when Rasmussen Reports released polling results that showed Gov. Joe Manchin, Capito’s likely Democratic opponent in a special election, leading her 53-39 percent.

Capito spokesman Kent Gates told Politico that Capito was also concerned that running in the special election would preclude her from concurrently running for another House term.

A special election run would put at risk Capito’s status as the only Republican — and the only woman — in her state’s congressional delegation.

“I think I have a unique position in the [congressional] delegation,” she told The Hill. “I’m representing a different party and a different gender.”

Gates told Politico Capito was waiting to make a final decision until the state legislature clarifies the state’s election laws later this week, which would move up the special election from 2012 to this year.

If Capito decides not to run, there are certainly other possible Republican candidates — but the list quickly descends into sacrificial lamb territory. The GOP’s next best candidate would appear to be former state Secretary of State Betty Ireland. Manchin led her 65-26 in the Rasmussen poll.

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