Capito dashes Republican hopes

Capito dashes Republican hopes

Republicans were dealt a blow Wednesday when Rep. Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoAmerica is in desperate need of infrastructure investment: Senate highway bill a step in the right direction On The Money: Economy adds 164K jobs in July | Trump signs two-year budget deal, but border showdown looms | US, EU strike deal on beef exports Trump border fight throws curveball into shutdown prospects MORE (R-W.Va.) decided not to run in November’s special Senate election.

Capito was seen as the party’s best hope for defeating popular Democratic Gov. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinTrump awards Medal of Freedom to NBA legend Bob Cousy Overnight Energy: Green groups sue Trump over Endangered Species Act changes | Bureau of Land Management retirees fight plan to relocate agency | Wildfires in Amazon rainforest burn at record rate Bureau of Land Management retirees fight plan to relocate agency out west MORE and taking the late Sen. Robert Byrd’s (D) seat.

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She announced her decision in a radio interview with West Virginia Metro News on Wednesday morning. The six-term lawmaker said the Senate is “a place I would like to be someday” but added that, for now, she intends to remain in the House and will run for reelection in the fall.

In a statement, Capito expressed a desire not to add to the “chaos and controversy surrounding the vacancy” in the Senate. “My candidacy would create more uncertainty, invite a legal challenge and misrepresent my priorities as a public servant,” she said.

With Capito opting out of the Senate race, Manchin is left with a much easier path to the Senate. He announced Tuesday he’ll run for the seat.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee and state Republicans have said the party intends to field a strong challenger, but they had their hopes pinned on Capito. With her out, the seat becomes much less of a priority for the national party.

Republican businessman John Raese, who challenged Byrd in 2006, has said he is considering a run against Manchin.

The West Virginia GOP said Wednesday it wasn’t aware of any other potential contenders for the seat.

The governor did draw a primary challenge Wednesday from 95-year-old former congressman Ken Hechler, who told the Charleston Daily Mail that he’s running to draw attention to mountaintop mining, a practice he has been a longtime opponent of.

With the Manchin-Capito watch officially over, much of the attention in the state will turn to the equally difficult question of gubernatorial succession.

If Manchin wins the Senate special in November, state Senate President Earl Ray Tomblin (D) becomes acting governor and a special election would be required to fill out Manchin’s term. State lawmakers are warning that process could prove just as confusing and chaotic.

—S.D.

Minnick challenger missing from GOP Young Gun list

Democratic strategists are breathing a sigh of relief over Rep. Walt Minnick’s (D-Idaho) reelection prospects.

Minnick’s Republican challenger, state Rep. Raul Labrador (R), was notably absent from the group of Republican candidates the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) promoted in its Young Guns candidates training program Wednesday.

The NRCC added 33 GOP candidates to its “On the Radar” and “Contender” lists but didn’t include Labrador, who defeated committee favorite Vaughn Ward in the May primary.
Democrats were quick to take note of Labrador’s absence.

“After the NRCC got burned by investing heavily in serial plagiarist Vaughn Ward while Congressman Minnick worked hard in his district and tallied up a cash advantage of 16 to one over Raul Labrador, it’s looking more and more like this district is falling off the NRCC’s radar,” Andrew Stone, spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said in a statement.

Labrador also missed out on an earlier round of Young Gun promotions in June.

He has reportedly had a tense relationship with the committee. He campaigned vigorously against Ward, railing against him as a Washington establishment candidate. And Labrador was stood up by NRCC officials when he came to Washington in December, according to The Idaho Statesman. After his primary win, he has yet to receive contributions from House Republicans, except for Rep. Mike Simpson (Idaho), who gave $2,000 on June 22.

Meanwhile, Minnick has a significant cash-on-hand advantage. He reported having $1.1 million in the bank at the end of June, while Labrador reported having $69,000 cash on hand.

A spokeswoman for the NRCC did not address Labrador’s status in the Young Guns program, but insisted Minnick would have a tough race.

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“Walt Minnick needs every penny to defend his votes for higher taxes and for Nancy Pelosi as Speaker,” Joanna Burgos, a spokeswoman for the NRCC, said in a statement. “While Minnick courts Nancy Pelosi’s friends in liberal San Francisco, Raul Labrador is working to introduce himself to Idahoans and build a winning campaign to defeat Walt Minnick.”

—S.J.M.

Miller and D’Aprile are campaign reporters for The Hill.  They can be found on The Hill’s Ballot Box, located at thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box.