W.Va. GOP chief confident his party will retain Capito's seat on Congress

March 12, 2013|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD |

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — West Virginia Republican Party state Chairman Conrad Lucas said Tuesday he is “completely confident” the GOP will hold Shelley Moore Capito’s seat in Congress when she runs for the U.S. Senate in 2014.

Since Capito announced her campaign to replace Jay Rockefeller, only former state Del. Larry V. Faircloth, R-Berkeley, has publicly announced a campaign to run for the 2nd District House seat.

But Lucas said Tuesday that he expects more candidates to enter the race after the regular session of the state Legislature ends in April.

There has been some mention of Del. Eric Nelson, R-Kanawha, Senate Minority Leader Mike Hall, R-Putnam, and former State Sen. Steve Harrison, another Kanawha Republican as possible candidates, but discussions have been limited, state Sen. Craig Blair, R-Berkeley, said Tuesday.

“There’s not a shortage of candidates by any means,” Blair said.

Former Maryland Republican Party chairman Alex X. Mooney also was reported this week to be eyeing Capito’s seat, but Lucas said Mooney made no mention of it at a welcome reception that was held Friday in Berkeley Springs, W.Va., for the state Republican Executive Committee’s winter meeting.

“We did talk Friday night, but not about that,” Lucas said. A Roll Call politics blog report Monday quoted state GOP National Committeeman Kris Warner, who cited Mooney’s supposed interest, but did not include any comments from Mooney himself.

Mooney said Tuesday in an email to The Herald-Mail that he had made no final decisions about possibly running for office in the future, but did confirm that he recently moved to West Virginia, where he is renting property. Mooney once had declared his intention to run for Congress in Maryland in 2014, while working for then U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett in the 6th District, according to Federal Election Commission records.

Mooney said he was traveling to Spain and wasn’t able to speak to Roll Call before Warner’s comments were posted on the Capitol Hill newspaper’s blog, At the Races.

A former Maryland Republican state senator who represented parts of Washington and Frederick counties, Mooney said Tuesday he is currently working on a book about door-to-door campaigning and politics and indicated the project would take at least a couple months.

Given their shared experiences in state Republican party leadership, Lucas said he thinks Mooney would have mentioned that he was eyeing a possible bid for the Capito seat Friday. 

“My understanding is that he’s out of the country for the next couple months,” Lucas said.

Capito’s Chief of Staff Joel Brubaker said Tuesday that his boss hadn’t heard from Mooney.

Brubaker said Capito had another engagement and did not attend the state executive committee function over the weekend, which featured remarks by 1st District Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va.

McKinley also had been reportedly eyeing a possible run for Rockefeller’s seat, but announced last month he would back Capito.

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