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W.Va. Dems predict 'close' Nov. 7 vote

October 25, 2000

W.Va. Dems predict 'close' Nov. 7 vote



By BOB PARTLOW / Staff Writer, Martinsburg


MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -Thirteen days before the general election, an enthusiastic crowd of about 240 Berkeley County Democrats held their annual banquet Wednesday night, but the party patriarch had to cancel out.

U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., seeking an eighth term in the Senate, was stuck in the Senate wrapping up work on the appropriations bills as Congress tries to adjourn so its members can devote full-time to campaigning.

But most major Democratic leaders in the state attended the event, trying to rally the troops for the upcoming battle. In interviews, Democratic leaders said they are hopeful, but acknowledged many elections could be close.

Typical was Jim Humphreys, locked in what may be a tight race with Shelley Moore Capito to replace gubernatorial candidate Bob Wise in Congress. Humphreys will be with Vice President Al Gore in Charleston Friday, campaigning in a state with a heavy Democratic registration.

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"I don't think there's any state or any district, or very few, that are not competitive, no matter what the party registration," Humphreys said when asked why Gore had to come to a state with so many Democrats. "People are very independent."

State Sen. John Unger, D-Berkeley, said he also foresees close races.

"It's divided," he said of the presidential race and why Gore must campaign here. "Among the people I know, you have Republicans who are voting for Gore and Democrats who are voting for Bush." It's not that's Gore's message is not getting through to voters, he said.

"Both messages are getting through," he said. He said the tight race is good because people are interested and because they have a choice.

"It's a battleground for ideas," he said.

Humphreys said the presidential race could be so close nationally that "it could well be that one candidate wins the popular vote and loses the election."

Local party activist Kim Sencindiver said she is "optimistic" about the Democrats' chances, and said both presidential candidates are working states they previously might have ignored.

"They're both having to scramble at the end," she said.

She said the presidential race is not likely to affect other races in the state.

"We have a good slate of candidates right down the line." she said.

Wise and Humphreys gave the crowd a strong dose of encouragement as the campaigns enter their final days.

"Let's keep it going," Wise said of momentum he said has been building in recent days. "We've got 13 days to turn this state around."

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