Truth Before Dishonor

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Obama A Drag On WV Gov Race

Posted by John Hitchcock on 2011/10/04


Another day, another special election where the Republican ties Obama to the Democrat, dragging the Democrat down. This time it is in West Virginia, where the Republican is tying the Democrat to ObamaCare. And it has caused the undecided voters to swing heavily for the Republican. Both sides of the race have stated the Republican Governors Association ads tying the Democrat to implementation of ObamaCare have tightened up the race.

What should’ve been a standard issue Democrat win, with Acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin (D) filling the unexpired term of former Governor Manchin (D), who the Mountain State sent to Washington, DC to fill the unexpired term of the late Senator Byrd (D) has now become a close race, all due to the Obama Factor. As Aaron Blake at the Washington Post notes, should Republican Bill Maloney win today, it will be an upset.

Democrats now expect the race to be decided by a margin in the low single-digits, while Republicans hold out hope that they can pull off what would be a pretty significant upset but say that have nothing to lose, given the state’s heavily Democratic — if conservative — tilt.

It would indeed be a significant upset because, even as Republicans made big gains elsewhere in 2010, West Virginia stuck by its Democratic roots and returned large Democratic majorities to its state legislature, along with sending Manchin to Washington, despite national Republicans’s best efforts to beat him. And gubernatorial races, which are often decided on state issues rather than national ones, are more insulated from the national winds.

What Republicans have done, though, is transformed the national issue that is Obama’s health care bill into a state one. And given Obama’s approval rating in the state — which has stood in the low-30s for some time — that could be a winning strategy.

Julie Sobel and Sean Sullivan at National Journal add:

Hot-button federal issues aren’t typically at the center of governor’s races. But in West Virginia, businessman Bill Maloney and national Republicans are tying acting Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to President Obama late in the race on the president’s signature health care plan. And the issue is likely to surface again in 2012’s most competitive governors’ races. In some places, it already has.

Unlike other issues that have roiled special elections this year — Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan, the debate over raising the federal debt ceiling — the states have a role to play in the ongoing battle over the health care law. Twenty-six have joined a legal challenge to the law, and the Republican Governors Association’s final ad in West Virginia focuses on Tomblin’s refusal to join the protest.

Maloney is spending the final stretch arguing that Tomblin’s inaction against Obama’s health care plan is a major reason voters should take a stand against him. “He said early on he didn’t like Obamacare, but now he seems to be okay with it,” Maloney said of Tomblin in an interview with National Journal after a Lincoln Day Dinner appearance in Harrisville. “I’m going to sue, and we’re going to be the 27th state to sue and try to get rid of Obamacare. He’s not going to do that. So that’s a stark difference right there.”

They go on to recite a list of other states where Democrat Governors are being tied to ObamaCare with good results — for the Republicans. It will definitely be an issue in the 2012 Governor, Senate, House, Presidential races, and it will definitely be a drag on all Democrats that are tied to it. Obama and ObamaCare will most certainly cost many Democrats elections.

Pass the popcorn.

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