January first two thousand fourteen is the beginning of the 2014 election season – but not for WV Republicans. They have used every day and opportunity during the last year. On the other side appearances would say Democrats are on idle.
For GOP stalwarts the late November 2012 indication Congresswoman Shelly Moore Capito would take on incumbent Senator Jay Rockefeller may have been a starting point. But even before that new leaders (and some old ones) were at work after seeing a 2014 opportunity in the GOP gains in the 2012 legislative elections.
When Rockefeller said he was done after 50 years of public service you could see the Democrat party was not ready to contest that election or maybe any other. Months passed with the Democrat party leadership being unable to recruit, urge or otherwise get a Senate candidate.
At this point it seems there is a lack of preparedness by Democrats – not for Republicans who are ready to battle for control of the WV Legislature. Historically the state Democrat party has turned on its machine 45 days or so before a November election. The House of Delegates seems more at risk. Speaker Tim Miley is new and unknown but he appears to be the type to lead a major effort to retain control for his party and its policies.
Last summer at a State GOP Logan meeting I found the Party nearly ready for the 2014 election. It has always been the Republican Party that was on idle – but not now.
Underway was the recruitment of legislative candidates, a research process to make certain they were the right ones for the task. A heavy emphasis on social media, grassroots efforts like none they have done in the past, enlarged staff, strategically placed offices and a national party behind their plans.
On the surface other than getting Secretary of State Natalie Tennant to enter the Senate race and a sellout dinner of appreciation for Senator Rockefeller there seems to be little Democrat party activity. That may be the strategy as State Chair Larry Puccio is cagey and he has Senator Joe Manchin in his toolbox.
Republicans made a serious effort to get sitting members of the Legislature to switch parties only two could be recruited – and one had previously been a Republican. The only gain I see from this was the news coverage and a pumped up social media campaign that this was huge deal…really.
There is nothing more important to either party than the control of the Legislature. As the New Year begins yet to be known is if the GOP has found serious candidates for the 100 House seats and 17 Senate ones. Also, not known is what Governor Tomblin and Senator Manchin will do to assure Democrat control of the Legislature ahead of the 2016 election cycle.
If I were involved in the Democrat party or running for the Legislature on that ticket I would be asking what is my Party’s strategy for 2014. The Republican Party’s strategy is in place