Sabato's Crystal Ball

West Virginia Races

House Outlook for 2008

Will the GOP Swing the Pendulum Back?

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West Virginia (02)

Outlook: Leans Republican


May 27, 2008 Update:

Democrat Anne Barth’s primary victory was warmly received by national Democrats who believe she has what it takes to defeat Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito this November. Barth was a late entry into the race, but quickly gathered establishment support and easily won the primary, even managing to squirrel away $300,000 for the general election. Capito has almost $1 million on hand herself, but the DCCC still thinks she is vulnerable, and has had Barth’s name on their “Red to Blue” list of targets since even before she emerged victorious from the primary.


Background

State senator John Unger put a serious dent into Democratic hopes of unseating Representative Shelley More Capito when he withdrew from the race the day of West Virginia’s filing deadline. Upon hearing the news, Anne Barth, Senator Byrd’s longtime state director, rushed to Charleston to submit her candidacy just before midnight. Barth had passed on the race when the state Democratic establishment coalesced around Unger, and her late entry means that she will face severe fundraising and name identification deficits in the general election.

Meanwhile, Congresswoman Capito stands in a strong position for reelection as West Virginia’s only Republican federal official. Early in the cycle, she tested the waters on a challenge to Senator Rockefeller, but passed, perhaps waiting for Senator Byrd’s next retirement opportunity in 2012. Even if Barth develops into a strong challenger, Capito has to feel good about her chances after summarily dispatching (57-43) former Democratic state chairman Mike Callaghan in 2006. Republican presidential coattails in a district that voted 57 percent for Bush should be more than necessary to guide Capito to a fifth term.

Candidates

Shelley Moore Capito (I) – Republican – current Congresswoman
Website

Anne Barth – Democrat – state director for Senator Byrd
Website