Tuesday, October 04, 2011


West Virginia Governor's Race Today

In a race that polling suggests is too close to call, a small percentage of West Virginians will choose between Democrat Earl Ray Tomblin, an establishment Democrat and career politician who has been in the West Virginia government since years before I was born, and Republican Bill Maloney, a drilling engineer who has never held public office but garnered significant Tea Party support in the primary. More on the candidates here.

Like most special elections, this race has garnered national attention due to its falling on a date where nothing else is occurring politically. Nearly $6 million in money from outside of the state has been poured into advertising for the candidates. And apparently it hasn't had a positive effect on turnout - only a smattering of voters have turned out for early and absentee voting.

Low turnout races are very difficult to predict. If the Republicans are able to carry the day, it would signal that the nation remains toxic to Democrats for 2012, especially President Obama, who the Republicans have made a campaign issue by saddling Tomblin with the political albatross that is the President. (Obama's approval ratings in West Virginia are some of the lowest in the country.)

What is interesting from a Tennessee perspective is how Tomblin has been tied to West Virginia's decision not to join the challenges to Obamacare. Tennessee's Democrat Attorney General (who is not popularly elected but should be) also elected not to join other states in contesting the unconstitutional mandates placed within President Obama's magnum opus. It will be interesting to see what part this may have in the West Virginia special election and whether that will translate into further Democratic losses here in Tennessee in 2012. It will also be a great measuring stick on whether Republican leadership ignores the bad advice of some of their own brethren and makes the Attorney General accountable to the voters.

If I had to make a prediction, I'd predict Tomblin wins. My basis for this unfortunate pick lies with many years of watching West Virginia go Democratic, union influence in the southern parts of West Virginia and their known propensity for intimidation, corruption, and voter fraud, and traditional polling in West Virginia that tends to run 2-3 points low for the Democrat (see previous reference to the unions).

MORE: CNN has more on the race. Seems that their analysis and my own aren't too far off - it will be close, but it's just hard to believe that Republicans would take a contested race in a union stronghold like West Virginia.

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