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After GOP Wrangling, Will Capito Still Back Down from Senate Run?

All of the West Virginia Republican lawmakers’ brouhaha over including the so-called “Capito Amendment” in the state legislature’s compromise bill authorizing a special 2010 Senate election may have been for naught. The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake reported late last night that three sources have told him Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), her party’s best hope of making the special election against Gov. Joe Manchin (D) competitive, will opt out of the race today.

State GOP lawmakers had managed to wrangle an amendment into the final bill that designated the Senate election as completely separate from the general election, though both occur Nov. 2. The amendment basically allowed any candidate who was running for another office to also run in the Senate election — more pointedly, it allowed Capito to run for the Senate while also allowing her to run for re-election to her House seat. Previous reports indicated that Capito was reluctant to make the jump to a Senate run if it meant giving up her House seat and risking her status as the state’s top elected Republican.

So why would Capito still decide to bow out, even after her party went to a great deal of trouble to perfectly align the stars for her? A source gave Politico some indication of what Capito’s problem is now.

Even though a newly-passed special election law specifically allows for Moore Capito to run for re-election to her House seat and in the special election, there is still much concern about a possible legal challenge if she tries – or worse, the prospect that she might get kicked off the ballot for both offices – if she tries to file for the Senate race. The source added that the congresswoman is concerned the logistics of running and fundraising for two simultaneous races on Nov. 2, and is also mulling several personal considerations.

Of course, there’s also the fact that the only poll so far of this race, conducted by Rasmussen Reports, showed Manchin leading Capito 53-39 percent. Manchin is very popular in West Virginia — Rasmussen found 77 percent of voters approved of him — and Capito may be concerned that a failed Senate bid would tarnish her political prospects. Of course, turning down a run at what may be the Republicans’ best opportunity to pick up one of the state’s Senate seats won’t exactly help her reputation with the national party. State GOP bigwigs likely won’t be pleased with her either, especially since they risked making the special election fix — already a prime example of political kabuki — into even more of a spectacle by insisting on the Capito Amendment.

There has been no comment from Capito’s camp yet, but we may know a definitive answer soon enough. She is scheduled to appear on Hoppy Kercheval’s “Metronews Talkline” radio show at 10 a.m., so it is possible she may announce her intentions on the program.

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