JONATHAN CHAIT OCTOBER 13, 2010
The West Virginia Senate race is a perfect example of the two parties' diametrical approach to nominating candidates. It's a poor, socially conservative, and increasingly Republican state. The Democrats have nominated Joe Manchin, the popular governor who is running an ad featuring him shooting the cap and trade bill with a rifle, a hilariously over-the-top authenticity two-fer.
The Republican nominee is John Raese. A very conservative Republican could win in West Virginia this year, if he were a populist extreme social conservative. That's not John Raese. He's a very rich guy whose family resides in Florida for tax purposes. Raese proposes to abolish the minimum wage, and has defined the ability to inherit a multimillion dollar fortune tax-free as the essence of the American dream:
RAESE: I made my money the old-fashioned way, I inherited it. I think that’s a great thing to do. I hope more people in this country have that opportunity as soon as we abolish inheritance tax in this country, which is a key part of my program.
I'm sure West Virginians can relate.
Now, if Manchin wins, he'll give the Democrats a hard time on all kinds of issues. Liberals are going to want to strangle him on numerous occassions. If Raese wins, he'll be a solid vote, especially on issues relating to protecting the financial interests of the rich that form the beating heart of the Republican agenda. But I don't think Raese is going to win.
And that's how Democrats end up with a large, fractious caucus extending far into red states, and Republicans have a small, tightly-disciplined caucus.