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Another big story to look out for on Tuesday:

Secretary of State candidate Natalie Tennant, 39, of Charleston speaks on the steps of the Capitol to kick off her campaign Wednesday, June 20, 2007, in Charleston, W.Va. Tennant said she will sign the Code of Fair Campaign Practices which is a voluntary
West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant (D) seems poised to enter the race for outgoing Sen. Jay Rockefeller’s (D-WV) Senate seat.

Sources close to Tennant say she plans to jump into the race on Tuesday, according to The Washington Post, and will start making stops in key cities around the state.

Tennant, a longtime West Virginia Democrat who ran unsuccessfully in the 2011 gubernatorial primary, is highly anticipated in a race that Democrats worried may open themselves up to a key loss in the Senate. Tennant faces a tough race in a conservative state against Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), the likely Republican nominee for the seat.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has already signaled its enthusiasm, sending an email blast Friday morning highlighting Tennant’s decision to return $3 million of unused funds in her capacity as secretary of state. The email didn’t mention Tennant’s plans to run for Senate but the Democrats’ Senate campaign arm clearly wants Tennant to be on the radar of its supporters.

On Aug. 30, West Virginia’s The Charleston Daily Mail published the results of a poll showing Tennant would make the race more competitive. The poll, conducted by the Daily Mail and R.L. Repass and Partners the week of Aug. 15-22, found 45 percent of those surveyed would pick Capito in a Capito-Tennant matchup. Meanwhile, 40 percent said they would pick Tennant and 15 percent said they were undecided. The poll had a margin of error of 4.9 percent. According to local news outlet MetroNews, Tennant was encouraged by the poll. - TPM, 9/13/13

Here's a little more background info on Tennant:

The Marion County native is in her second four-year term as Secretary of State.  She will be able to run in 2014 without giving up her current position.  Her term expires in 2016.

Tennant has also been mentioned as a possible gubernatorial candidate in 2016. She ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination for governor in a 2011 special election, finishing third.

Tennant, 45, first made a name for herself while a student at WVU where she became the first woman chosen at the Mountaineer, the mascot for the University.  She graduated in 1991 with a journalism degree and spent most of the next two decades as a television reporter and anchor in Clarksburg and Charleston.

Her husband, Erik Wells, is a Democratic State Senator representing Kanawha County.

There was evidence earlier Friday that Tennant had decided to join the race when the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee sent out a release of a Charleston Gazette story about her.  The subject line was, “Tennant’s cost saving measures saves West Virginia $3 million.”

In that story, Tennant described herself as a “fiscal hawk.” - West Virginia Metro News, 9/13/13

The DSCC sees the West Virginia Senate as a top priority:

West Virgnia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant listens as arguments are presented in front of the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia regarding whether or not a special election should be held for the governor's seat vacated by Joe Manchin when he was elected to the U.S. Senate, Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2011 in Charleston, W.Va. (AP Photo/Bob Wojcieszak, Pool)
The race will be key to Democrats’ efforts to retain control of the Senate majority next year, given a number of tough reelection races for red-state Democrats and the 2014 retirements of longtime members of the upper chamber, including West Virginia Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller.

Democrats hold a vast registration edge in West Virginia, though split ticket voters were the norm in 2012. Voters went for Mitt Romney over President Barack Barack Obama by nearly a two-to-one margin, while Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin easily won reelection over John Raese. - Politico, 9/13/13

Now of course Republicans will have their ammo against Tennant but she also has great strengths:

She’s been a delegate to the Democratic National Convention twice before, and campaigned for Obama in 2008 in West Virginia. She’s also made comments Republicans have suggested were a defense of President Obama’s policies on coal, which remain controversial in West Virginia, where coal production is a significant part of the economy.

Brook Hougesen, spokeswoman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, immediately drew comparisons between Tennant and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in a statement on her entrance into the race.

“Natalie Tennant is a cookie-cutter liberal more in the mold of Harry Reid (D-Nev.) than Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) on issues like coal, energy, the EPA, ObamaCare, abortion and protecting the 2nd Amendment," she said.

She also suggested that Tennant is strategically useful for Republicans, because she could draw resources and energy from other candidates.

“Strategically, Tennant is great for Republicans in that she's enough of a mirage to keep National Democrats and donors walking through the desert without offering the ability to ever drink," Hougesen said.

And she was trounced in the Democratic primary for West Virginia’s 2011 gubernatorial race, taking only 17 percent of the vote. The candidate who finished second, state House Speaker Rick Thompson, decided not to run in the Senate race.

However, she’ll likely receive significant support from outside Democratic groups, including EMILY’s List, who endorsed her in that gubernatorial race.

And West Virginia Democratic Party Chairman Larry Puccio told The Hill enthusiasm for Tennant to run was high.

“I’ve been involved for some time in the political arena, and I’ve never seen the recruitment effort from the voters in West Virginia asking so strongly for an individual to enter this race,” he said. - The Hill, 9/15/13

Tennant's opponent, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R. WV), is the establishment favorite despised by right-wing groups like The Club For Growth and she will have to get through her primary first.  Capito is going up against former state Del. Pat McGeehan and a few other no name characters.  Republicans haven't won a Senate election in West Virginia since 1956.  Tennant's husband, state Sen. Erik Wells (D. WV), could play a key role in Tennant's campaign.  Wells, a military veteran, challenged Capito in 2000 and outperformed expectations, though Capito kept her seat.  I've long been arguing that Tennant would be a great candidate for Senate and I am looking forward to her campaign.  Stay tuned.

Originally posted to pdc on Sun Sep 15, 2013 at 11:14 AM PDT.

Also republished by The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Sounds like good news. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fcvaguy, Woody, thomask

    Always nice to hear some good news...

    It's the Supreme Court, stupid!

    by Radiowalla on Sun Sep 15, 2013 at 11:40:46 AM PDT

    •  it is (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      she's probably our only chance to hold the seat. If she wins we keep the senate majority. If she doesn't we don't necessarily lose the majority, but we've got a chance to.

      ...better the occasional faults of a government that lives in a spirit of charity, than the consistent omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference. -FDR, 1936

      by James Allen on Sun Sep 15, 2013 at 11:56:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Don't follow the politics... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hillbilly Dem, Woody, thomask

    of my motherland like I did before I left it.

    It was '88. We voted for Dukakis that year. Look it up.

    And Capito's daddy, Arch Moore, arguably the crookedest Republican since Richard Nixon, was serving out his last days in the governor's office--it would be a couple of years before he served his next term.

    In federal prison in Alabama.

    WV lost a good lefty when I left. Seems like it's turned to crazy state since. Maybe I should have shut the lights.

    Anyway, I supposed I ought to get to a point here. From what I hear in my new haunts inside the Beltway, Capito is no darling of the Tea Party wing and, oh the irony, in another time might be characterized as a "Rockefeller Republican."

    I don't know if WV is pining for a knuckle-dragger to fill the seat or not, but if they are it could dampen the enthusiasm for Capito.

    I'd hate like hell to see that seat go red.

  •  Thanks for posting this news again :) (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I may have reported it a couple of days ago but I don't mind seeing Natalie Tennant in the news on Daily Kos once again.  

    Keep up the good work!

  •  Hopefully, she won't face a primary opponent... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    which will allow Tennant to quietly build grasroots support and raise money while the Republicans tear each other apart in a primary.

    And it also means that Capito can't take the women's vote for granted, either.

    This is great news for Democrats, offering the possibility of holding this seat, or, at the very least, making Republicans spend massive amounts of time, energy, effort and resources winning it.

  •  What would help even more.......... (0+ / 0-)

    Is if the Tea Trash and the morons at the Club for Growth can primary Moore.

    Just being competitive here helps in which will be a tough senate hold.

  •  I just don't get it (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Woody, poopdogcomedy

    Why do political pundits think the seat is lost? WV is filled to the brim with Democrats. Its state senate is 2-1 Democratic. We held the governorship in 2011 and 2012. Its house is also Democratic. And wasn't Manchin the WV SOS before he obliterated the Republican opposition as both governor and senator?

    If Tennant plays her cards right, prays to King Coal like a good West Virginian and maybe pops a couple rounds into the cap 'n trade bill, I think she's got a better than even chance of winning. Capito is popular - in district. But she's never run statewide, unlike Tennant, who has racked up nearly 2-1 margins in both her statewide runs for office. She also sizeably outperformed Tomblin in 2012. She has appeal - lots of appeal.

    It'll still be a fairly close race, I think, but anyone who says this is a done deal for either side is smoking some epic hashish.

    •  I completely agree. Pundits can be idiots and (0+ / 0-)

      don't get the premise of split ticket voters.  How many times did we hear pundits say "Well Todd Akin, Richard Mourdock, Denny Rehberg and Rick Berg are all sure to win because Romney will win those states easily."  They underestimate the intelligence of these voters.  They get how the government works, for the most part, and they know that Senators care more about local issues than national issues.

      Funny Stuff at

      by poopdogcomedy on Sun Sep 15, 2013 at 07:46:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Indeed (0+ / 0-)

        And I would've said that the Berg/Heitkamp race was a far more dire situation for us than West Virginia. North Dakota really IS an incredibly Republican state. WV, on the other hand, is not. It never has been. It might be trending that way, but right now, it's still pretty Democratic.

        What worries me is that a West Virginia Democrat is not quite a federal Democrat, and conflating the two is becoming a trend of many voters. In this sense, I think it actually helps us that she's running in 2014 instead of a Presidential year, since midterms tend to bring out the more informed voters. Certainly the "minority lag effect" isn't going to be prominent in lily-white WV.

    •  It's certainly worth the fight (0+ / 0-)

      I suspect that if she wins we'll get Manchin-size heartburn, but keeping a Senate majority is urgent.

      As to the attitude of the pundits:  whatever these fools folks think, we need to see numbers.  I suspect David Nir and the other statistics fiends around here can explain to what degree behavior in WV congressional elections has actually swung to The Dark Side.  Certainly, the state was not in play in last year's presidential, nor has it been for some time.  How or if this has implications for a senate race is, as they say, an empirical question.

      So hopefully, we'll get some hints as to what the data says.

      Quote of the week: "They call themselves bipartisan because they're able to buy members of both parties," (R. Eskow, Campaign for America's Future.)

      by mbayrob on Sun Sep 15, 2013 at 08:57:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Because political pundits are doomsday people (0+ / 0-)

      And they live in a box.

      I mean, President Obama is getting the same kind of unpopularity in Virginia as in Kentucky yet in KY, Alison Grimes is mounting a campaign that is giving Mitch McConnell the fight of his life.

      All that needs to be done is have retiring Senator Jay Rockefeller and Senator Joe Manchin endorse Natalie Tennant for U.S. Senate, she doesn't screw up and she wins election.  It's that simple.

      Of course, grassroots support and GOTV helps.

      •  I was wondering this myself (0+ / 0-)

        Which is to say, to what degree a Manchin endorsement would make or break her election.

        Manchin's a super popular guy. Having him stump for her is a bit like having Bill Clinton stumping for you in Arkansas.

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