Thursday, October 13, 2005

Can Byrd Be Flipped?

Much as I said a month before the official announcement, Sen. Robert C. Byrd will run for a record ninth term in 2006. What I didn't get to tell you was the final decision of Rep. Shelley Moore Capito. It's old news, but still worth reporting. Capito will not challenge Byrd for his seat, which is a shame because she was the only real competition he had. So do we go ahead and pencil the King of Pork's name in for his seat, or will a worthy opponent step forward?

From what I've seen so far, the competition doesn't look too promising. The biggest potential adversary is former WVU basketball coach Gale Catlett, but he left under the cloud of an NCAA investigation and (to the best of my knowledge) has no prior political experience. He would literally be running on his popularity and espoused viewpoints, which is not encouraging because his popularity took a hit when he left and his viewpoints are unknown. The GOP is high on him, but I think it's because he's better than some of the other potential candidates.

Hiram Lewis is going to run, and although he has experience, he's nothing special. However, one guy I've heard a lot about, George Johnson, doesn't have a prayer. His website emphasizes his stance on property rights, but word is he wants to see the Constitution (and therefore the entire law) reset to its original format. Yes, that would include the removal of judicial review and the return to a gold economy. He's actually saying this stuff. I don't know if he'd like to see every amendment after the 10th removed too, but I'm sure that would make for a fun debate question. Fun like a train wreck, but fun.

So what will Capito do now? Obviously, she'll try to hold on to her seat in the House, which I figure she will win easily. Whispers are creeping around that she could be a contender for the 2008 presidential bid, but barring some kind of political miracle to boost her over Giuliani, McCain, George Allen, and a hypothetical Condi, that's not going to happen.

But aside from Capito and Byrd's non-contests, at least one of the state's elections could be a real trip. Remember Steve Nicholas, former VP of WVU Young Democrats and a DA writer so ideological that I didn't even bother to dissect his columns? He's going to run for the state House of Delegates in 2006. God help us all. I'd like to think that the conservative Dems that make up the party base in West Virginia wouldn't go near this guy, but stranger things have happened.

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