Player of the week: Rep. Moore Capito

During the 2006 cycle, Republicans strongly urged Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) to challenge Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.).

They claimed Byrd was beatable, but Capito wisely opted to run for reelection in the House as Byrd cruised to his ninth term.

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Byrd’s recent death has put the spotlight on Capito again. The 56-year-old GOP centrist is mulling whether to run for Byrd’s old seat this fall and has indicated she will make her decision within the next week.

It remains unclear whether Capito will be able to run for her House seat and the Senate seat simultaneously. State legislators are working out the details of the anticipated special election in November.

West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin (D) has indicated he will run to replace Byrd, setting up an intriguing possible showdown against the House GOP lawmaker.

Both politicians are popular. Manchin won both his terms easily, the latest in 2008 when he attracted seven out of every 10 votes. Capito, a Democratic target two years ago, fended off her challenger by double digits.

Capito, daughter of three-term West Virginia Gov. Arch Moore, would start the race with a clear money advantage, having amassed $572,000.

While political handicappers say that Manchin would be the favorite, he is viewed as beatable — especially this year.

President Obama does not have many fans in West Virginia. Hillary Clinton defeated him in the state’s primary by more than a 2-to-1 margin and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) captured the state in the 2008 general election by 11 percentage points.

Capito, the only Republican in the West Virginia delegation, believes she will ultimately have to give up her House seat in order to run for the Senate. Her decision could enhance the long-shot chance the GOP has of retaking control of the upper chamber.